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The Lake Ridge Band performs at halftime.

The Lake Ridge Band performs at halftime.

George Olsen

George Olsen

The Lake Ridge Band performs at halftime.

Connor Thompson, ENN Staff

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As the October sun sets at Lake Ridge High School, only two distinct sounds can be heard: the custodians waxing the floors, and the bold brass of the Lake Ridge Marching Band. From 3:45 to 6:45, the band practices vigorously four days a week, preparing for the Friday night football game as well as one of the many Saturdays spent in stadiums around the Metroplex, competing for a state title.

According to Associate Band Director Alberto Ocasio, these nightly rehearsals of musical phrases, sets, and visuals are what distinguishes a mediocre band from a State Championship winning team.

“The U.I.L. rules state that a band is allowed to practice 8 hours a week, and we use every minute of those 8 hours to prepare to qualify for the state competition. We always spend time on learning new drill, reviewing sets to make sure our lines and curves are crisp and clean, and of course touching up on our music to help us preform to our best ability,” said Ocasio.

Students such as senior Kyle Berwise are often encumbered in work from their classes, however band students are faced with the task of balancing academics with rehearsal nearly every day. Berwise claims that he manages to get his assignments turned in, even though practice usually takes up all of his afternoon.

“It’s very hard because instead of going home and doing homework, I have to go to practice. Since I take all AP classes, it makes it a little bit difficult. But it has made me a stronger person because it forces me to have real determination, so I always usually finish my assignments and shoot for A’s on all of them,” said Berwise.

Though students like Berwise make due with academics and band, others such as Senior Reuben Alvarado would prefer to reduce the rehearsals to times more like 3:45 to 6:00. Alvarado claims he not only shifts between being a student and being a musician, but is also a disciplined member of the J.R.O.T.C. Alvarado says he would prefer to have a bit more time to study, as he is already so occupied with two extracurricular activities.

“I do think having these long rehearsals is necessary, but to keep our academic eligibility we should have some more time to do our homework, because with that ending time we already spend all of our afternoon at band,” said Alvarado.

Band Director Brad Bonebrake, understands the struggles his students may be facing, but feels they do a good job maintaining their responsibilities in and out of the classroom.

“In the fall semester when we have the most involvement with after school activity, we actually have the fewest academic eligibility issues, so the students are able to find a way to balance their activities at a high level. We do offer study hall time, just to make sure the students are having enough time to prepare themselves for their academic classes,” said Bonebrake.

While students and teachers believe that the overwhelming work load can be intimidating, sophomore Isabelle Pham says that band is worth the time and effort put in. From the healthy activity to the friends you make along the way, Pham believes it’s worthwhile to be a part of the band despite the long, daily rehearsals.

“I would definitely recommend band to people because of the unique culture and companionship you get to be a part of when you’re in it. I had a lot of friends before marching band, sure, but especially people that feel lonely should join the band because there is practically a place for anyone there,” said Pham.

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