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This may be the inaugural year of the James Clemens High School Band but Director Keith Anderson is excited to have the public see how well they have been doing.
“The kids are working really, really hard and I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised given that sometimes first year expectations may be low for some people,” said Anderson. “I think everyone is going to hear the band and realize that our program is going to be just fine because the kids are working extremely hard to make that happen.”
Anderson spent 11 years at Bob Jones before coming to James Clemens. He served as the assistant band director and director for the award-winning Bob Jones Indoor Drumline.
Like the new football programs of the school, the majority of the band is comprised students who have never played under the Friday night lights of the football field. The band consists of 86 members, mostly freshmen and sophomores. Only a couple are seniors and about twenty are juniors.
You might believe all this would be something difficult for the young group to face but according to Anderson, it wasn’t.
“The kids have really taken on the challenge. We got in there on day one and things really started moving quickly,” stated Anderson. “When the challenge was put in front of the group like that, they showed they could work hard and had fun while doing it.”
It seems the two weeks which were spent at band camp made all the difference for the band members, not only in the music and skills they learned but also in the relationships that were formed.
“That’s one of the things that I enjoy so much about what I do. Music is obviously a part of it, but seeing those relationships and the tight-knit family that exists within the band – that is one of the things that made me want to be a band director. It is something I had when I was in school,” recalled Anderson.
“My band director fostered an environment that the kids wanted to be a part of and to do that here is one of our main goals.”
Is that working? The answer is yes according to Gabby Washabaugh, a junior with previous marching experience who recently moved here from Virginia.
“It’s a different experience, but it’s amazing as always. We’re all a big, happy family!”
Sure, the band isn’t as large as what Madison is used to with Bob Jones’ 200-plus member group, but the director of the JCHS band isn’t worried about that.
“With it being smaller than what people know from across town, I think it works to our advantage. We get to really build the core group. When the next class comes in next year and the band starts to grow quickly, that core will be there for support and will know how important it is to be bonded together.”
When asked what the community could do to help out the new program, Anderson’s answer was, “to support the team and the band at any events and planned fund-raisers. We will appreciate the support given whether it is being there at the games, participating in our fund-raisers or donating to the band as we get this started.”
To get the band ready for the marching season, it has taken not only the hard work of Anderson, the band’s assistant director, Stuart Tankesley, and Kendra Harper, who is instructing the color guard, but you could say it has taken a village. The band boosters and band parents have worked to get things ready, from ordering uniforms to working in the concession stands, to providing popsicles for band camp and everything in between.
There are many emails which are passed back and forth, communications through a special website just for the band, posts sent via Facebook and Twitter, as well as the creation of a new website where the public can find information about the group. It seems that everyone who has a connection to the band is working hard to make sure there is no turbulence during this or any future journey of these Jets.
So what kind of music should you expect to hear when you come watch the first flight of the James Clemens band? Something with a flying theme, of course!
“We thought it would be good to get the community and the crowd behind the show for the first year of the James Clemens Jets Marching Band to have a show about flight,” Anderson said. He chose and arranged songs that would be a mix of the familiar with the contemporary, giving as much variety as possible so that everyone in the crowd could enjoy it.
The JC Jets Band members will be praticing their music and marching every day during their 1st block of school, as well as, during their two weekly after school practices. It’s a continuation of what they first learned during band camp.
“Everything we started culminates through the whole school year,” stated Anderson. “It’s their first year and we want to surprise people and exceed expectations, then build upon that next year so the progress continues on a regular basis.”
With the time and effort the directors, the students and the parents have put in, along with the support of the community, it appears this will not be a problem.
Want more information on the newest band in town? Visit their website at www.jcjetsband.com. From there you can keep up to date on the latest events, know about upcoming fundraising opportunities and even see what the new band uniforms will look like before they are even delivered to the members.
The season opener will be this Friday night, August 31 at 7 p.m. against J.O. Johnson High School at the Madison City Schools Stadium.
This will be the first of many performances of the JC Jets Band in the years to come!