By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
After placing second in the 2012 Zia Marching Band Fiesta AA division and the 2013 New Mexico Activities Association State Band Contest, the Portales Ram Band has been at work since school ended in May.
“We held our rookie camp the week after school ended for our incoming freshmen,” said PHS Band Director Jennifer Johnson, who is entering her seventh year in that role for the band. Since then, it has been almost non-stop for the 70-plus member band. After band rehearsals all summer, now the marching will be kicked into high gear.
“Since last Monday, we have been doing rehearsals and marching,” Johnson said.
A typical day in PHS band camp contains physical fitness and marching portion.
“We focus a lot on physical conditioning. A 15-minute show where you are marching, playing an instrument, and controlling your breathing requires you to be in shape,” Johnson said.
With such a busy schedule, Johnson admits it would be very difficult without her student leadership team, consisting of 12 students who had to apply and interview to join the group.
“Seventy students to one or two teachers is a lot. I really count on the leadership team to help other students catch up and it increases student learning too because sometimes they can relate better to each other,” said Johnson.
Jennifer Salomon, 17, is a drum major, plays clarinet and is a part of the student leadership team.
“Drum majors are to band what a quarterback is to football,” explained Johnson.
Salomon’s job is to be the conductor on the field during performances.
“A drum major conducts the band but we also have to march, play, and we are basically role models and leaders,” Salomon said.
Rahja Brown, an incoming freshman, plays trombone. Despite having yet attended a high school class, Brown and other freshmen-to-be have already been practicing alongside their band mates.
“They already treat me like I am one of them,” said Brown.
“I just treat them how I would have wanted to be treated,” said Salomon.
There will be a parent performance that is open to the public at 7 p.m. Thursday at Portales High School.