To outsiders, it may seem like simple fun, but Cedar Cliff Marching Band is one of the hardest working programs in the West Shore.
Each year, marching band season kicks off with band camp, a grueling 7 day 9 AM to 9 PM program designed to prepare the band for upcoming competitions and halftime shows. Percy Baucum (Baritone) made it clear that it is very hard work. It begins with morning practices, drills, instrument set-ups, and warm-ups. The day continues on to lunch and then to more practice in instrument sectionals. The day ends with dinner and a final practice with all the parts playing together.
In addition to the summer band camp, practices continue on into the fall, rain or shine, Mondays and some Saturdays at Red Land, and Thursdays and the other Saturdays at Cedar Cliff. Occasionally, there will be practices on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Each practice is usually 3 hours long. The band typically rehearses the half-time show performance during these practices. Saturday morning practices start at 9 AM and don’t end until the band departs for competitions.
Competitions happen every Saturday. They are a place for marching bands to show off their talent and to compete. Alex Wrightstone (Drummer) elaborated on the way Saturdays typically go for the marching band. The day begins with an early 9 AM practice that lasts until around 2 PM. The band then begins with a pack up procedure. This consists of placing the equipment, props, and instruments in the trucks, changing into uniforms, separating the band onto their busses, and finally heading towards the competition. Once they arrive at the location, they unpack the trucks with a similar procedure and warm up until it’s time to perform and compete for the most talented band at the competition. Once they have finished their performances, the band changes into white t-shirts and simple shorts to reload the trucks yet again. At the end of the competition, they divide back onto their assigned buses and return to Cedar Cliff. Sometimes, the band has to sleep on the busses if the competitions are outside of Pennsylvania. But they typically arrive back at Cedar Cliff anytime between 11 PM and 2 AM, which makes for a rather long 8 to 12 hour day.
All this work certainly is exhausting, especially with football half-time shows Friday nights before the long days of competitions. In spite of the difficult work, Percy and Alex both agree the experience is worth it.