And Michelle, the freshman hoping to make it into the team, said she couldn’t wait for practice to begin.
“I’ve been looking forward to this all summer,” she said.
In tune with the music
When Khaleel Bailey was in elementary school, he watched his older siblings at marching band practice at a field in Miami Norland Senior High School.
Now Bailey is on that same field, playing the mellophone, or the French horn used in marching bands.
“In elementary school I just said ‘I really like music,’ ” said Bailey, 18, a senior at Norland. “From then on I just kept on loving it.”
Like the other students in the band, which includes dancers and flag bearers, the Miami Gardens student has been practicing every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for two weeks before school started. They already played at the 2012-2013 school year kick-off held Aug. 10 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Freshman Divine Hylton, 15, said she does not mind the long days of practice during summer vacation.
“I am doing something here instead of just sitting at home all day,” said Divine, who lives in Miami Gardens and plays the trombone.
Many of the students who practiced are freshmen who have just joined the marching band and must learn the basics — how to march, how to pick their legs, point their toes and drop their feet to the rhythm.
“This is a lot of the newer kids — some of the kids who need that early jump,” said Band Director Darryl Baker. “The kids want to do it. But they really don’t have that outlet. They’ve never marched. They’ve never played. This is hard. But if you give them an opportunity, they’ll step up to the plate.”
To better condition incoming freshmen, Baker also held several marching band summer camp sessions.
“If they can come out here and make it through this whole part, we consider them part of the team,” Baker said. “If they can get past the summer, past the heat, they do very good after that.”
Hard work at Color Guard
Shabely Ramos tosses a three-pound flag into the air. Then catches it.
It’s a summer morning and she, along with the other girls who make up the Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School Color Guard, is practicing her routine at school.
“If you practice, you’ll get it,” said 15-year-old Shabely, of Hialeah. She joined the Color Guard last March.
The school’s all-girls Color Guard accompanies the marching band at pep rallies, games and competitions. They began work in mid-July and ended two weeks before school began, working from 8 a.m. until about 6:30 p.m. That left them with a three-week summer vacation — two weeks longer than last year’s.
“I miss it though because now I feel like I have nothing to do,” said 16-year-old Shanice Fernandez, of Miami Gardens, days after the summer practice ended.
After three years on the Color Guard, Shanice is the team’s captain. She worked this summer to prepare the guard members for the school year.
“People learn in different ways, and I just feel like I can get everyone on the same level so we can all grow together,” said Shanice, a senior. “I give people different opportunities so that no one feels like just because I am a rookie or a veteran, I have to work harder or not work as hard. Everyone has to work equally hard.”
Dancing with precision
The first time you watch Miami Beach Senior High School’s band dancers, you may think that the girls are Army trainees.
Dressed in white T-shirts and red shorts, the girls answer to their dance team co-captain with a loud, “Sir, yes, sir.” They turn left when they hear a ‘left face’ command and turn right on ‘right face.’
It’s two weeks before school starts and the girls in the Auxiliary are practicing basic dance steps, perfecting their skills so they’re done in precision.
“Perfection,” said 17-year-old Agatha Dasilva, a co-captain of the team. “So that we can get that perfect posture and perfect dance. People will notice if we make a mistake.”
The Auxiliary performs with the school’s marching band at games, pep rallies and community events. For three weeks before school begins, the girls come to daily practice from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Miami Beach resident Samantha Arampatzis, 15, said she works hard in the Auxiliary because when it comes time for games, the bands compete against each other just as much as the football teams do.
“We enjoy the rivalry,” said Samantha, a sophomore.
Agatha, the co-captain, said she joined because she was attracted to the Auxiliary’s dancing and outfits. Once the first football game begins, the girls will don their sparkly red one-sleeved shirts and glittery black shorts.
“I have friends on the football team who say they get hyped once we come out.”