Marching band plays and “makes bucks”
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 year, the Amherst Marching band was only three members strong, and few knew who they were. Since then, their numbers swelled to nine, with the band now a mix of four high schoolers and five middle schoolers.
The marching band was formed by the group’s captain, Zachariah Clark, and director of music Chris Horte, to give students “the chance to expand their experiences with performing.”
“Marching band meant a lot to me throughout my high school career,” said Clark. “I wanted to make sure the students at Amherst Regional had the same opportunities I did.”
Even with their practice time limited to Friday evenings, the band has played at several high school sporting events.
Their first event was during half time at the 2015 Senior Night football game, and they currently perform at field hockey, girls’ soccer, and boys’ soccer games.
According to ARHS junior Dylan Walter, during their first year as a marching band, no one knew who they were when they showed up to events. “Now,” he said, “they’ve seen us practicing on the field and they recognize us.”
Because the marching band is not an official ARPS performing arts ensemble, they have been able to play for hire.
They have recently performed at the Amherst Block Party in September, and according to Walter, “We play wherever we can make a few bucks.”
The issue of funding has been noticeable to members of the marching band. Walter explained the effort that went into acquiring his instrument, the tuba, as the district does not actually own one that is usable for marching.
Instead, they are currently renting him a sousaphone from UMass using leftover cheerleading funds.
When asked about the increase in band members this year, Walter said that expanding the amount of middle schoolers has meant there are fewer people who are accustomed to playing in an ensemble like this, but most of the younger members are committed to the group and the music.
“A lot of the new members can pick up the music, but the band isn’t quite to the point where they can be given the music and know it in one week,” Walter said.
According to Clark and Horte, the marching band is a numbers game. Even with the increase in members, the group is still quite small so students adhere to a “strict no-cut policy in order to keep membership as high as possible,” said Clark.
“This year,” Clark has also said, “the marching band’s growth has proven to the Amherst Regional community that this program is here to stay and here to win.”