More than 100 New Albany High School musicians hit the field this week participating in the annual week-long camp to prepare for the fall season.
While the band’s most visible presence will be at the high school football games, director David Hopple said they will be involved in other activities – some of them new this year.
Their football halftime show for this season will have a space theme and is called, “One Small Step.” Hopple said it will consist of mostly movie music such as from “Star Trek,” “ Apollo 13,” “The Rocketeer” and “E.T.”
He said the band will do a 15-20 minute show on the field but this year they will also do a pre-game show each week. “The new pre-game show will include patriotism and a lot of color,” he said. “It will also include fire batons.”
The high school band will be sporting new uniforms this year – but not immediately. Hopple said the musicians will wear cooler attire for the first few August games and probably will not reveal the new uniforms to the public until September.
For any former band students, family members or others feeling a bit of nostalgia for the old uniforms, the band is having them made into commemorative pillows or cushions. They will be sold for $50 and come in varieties both with and without tassels. Hopple said they should be available by the first home football game Aug. 29. To order or for information call the New Albany High School office at 534-1805.
Two other regular fund-raising events for the band are coming up as well, one immediately and the other a bit later.
Hopple said the Bulldog Cards will go on sale July 28, probably for $10. The plastic cards provide discounts for various local participating businesses. To purchase one, Hopple said, “Find a band kid or come by the band hall.” The cards will be sold some time in front of Wal-Mart as well.
Another fundraising and public event is Band Night, which will be Oct. 17. “All band members in grades six through 12 will perform in a pre-game show,” he said, and before the game a fish and chicken dinner in the cafeteria will be used to raise money for band activities.
Once football season is past, the band will focus on contest time.
They will participate in the Dixie Pride marching competition on the Northeast campus in Booneville Oct. 4, will go to Tupelo Oct. 11 for the state contest marching and Nov. 1 to the overall state competition in the Jackson area.
Hopple said they have tied for second twice and this year they want to win.
A new event here will be a Jazz Band Clinic Nov. 14-15.
“We have been pushing jazz a lot more,” he said. “We have had jazz festivals the past two years but this the clinic should draw from all over the state. It will be Friday and Saturday and I am shooting for two high school and one middle school bands. There will be a free performance Saturday with everybody invited.”
For the first time this past May, the band played at New Albany’s high school graduation ceremony. Hopple says that added something to the ceremony, and this fall he plans for at least some of his musicians to perform at the Tallahatchie RiverFest.
All of this is to help raise community awareness of the bands and more pride for the members. Hopple has started a letter points system so band members can earn letter jackets for their achievement. “Students have to earn points by playing, but also by other activities such as raising money,” he said.
This is the second year for Hopple, who is from Corinth, and his assistants, Will and J. J. Curry.
“I can’t say enough about my two assistants,” he said. “They are fantastic. They work hard and provide great support. They have done a wonderful job and makes mine so much easier”
Hopple has about 110 in the high school band and perhaps slightly more than that in the middle school band. “We try to have at least 60 or 70 beginners (to prepare to move up),” he said. “My goal is to have 150 in the high school band.”
Hopple predicts a season of hard work for the band members in order to achieve their goals.
“To be successful, you need a more artistic show,” he said. “It must be thematic, have demanding marching to be competitive at the state level. There is a lot more dance stuff, body work. It’s tough but the kids are buying into it.”
Members of the flag team rehearse routines in the high school practice gym.
The drum section works on their steps outside.