Marching band magic: Mundelein program returns with in-person camp, practices, performances


Photo submitted by Andy Sturgeon

After the first day of band camp, Band Director Andy Sturgeon reviews the day with the Marching Mustangs as well as gives announcements for events to come. Sturgeon said, “This daily routine is one aspect that has been fun to be able to do in person again this season.”

Megan Burns, News & Features Editor

As MHS returned to in-person learning, and school activities started back up again, many groups, like the Marching Mustangs, have had to adapt to this year’s new “normal.”

“The pandemic has affected our marching season even if it is just in small ways,” Drum Major Addison Salski, senior, said. “We spend more time outside, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I know we try to do whatever it takes to avoid the air turnover [needed for safe indoor practice during the pandemic]. When we are inside, we still have [instrument] bell covers and masks, which is not as ideal, but it is necessary.” 

Because of COVID-19, the band was also unable to use the water hoses typically provided on the football field for cooling off during summer camp, stated Field Captain Sam Roberts, senior.

“We had to ration our water, and a few of those [summer] band camp days got to be upwards of 90 degrees,” Roberts said.

As field captains, Roberts and fellow senior Kessler Young have been tasked with making sure all members of the band know the basics of marching. The typical role of field captain has had an added layer of challenge this year with the pandemic. 

“Being a field captain [means] you have to be a very observant person,” Young said. “You have to watch everyone and make sure they’re following what we’re doing correctly. If not, you help them immediately.”

These two, as well as the rest of the Marching Mustang leadership team, played a role in preparing the incoming freshmen and sophomores for the season ahead of them.

“The leadership team did a terrific job of modeling proper techniques for the new marchers, and this is where our strength typically comes from anyway,” Band Director Jerry Shelato said.

Shelato also stated since last year’s band camp was strictly online, the incoming sophomores joined the freshmen in attending the two day new marchers’ camp preceding the full-group, week-long band camp this summer. This new marchers’ camp is usually only hosted for incoming freshmen and others who are new to band.

“I thought that the students who attended that camp did a great job,” Band Director Andy Sturgeon said. “The leadership team also did a great job teaching and introducing marching band to all of the new members.”

Not all of these new members were able to attend band camp, though; according to Sturgeon, those that missed the camps have been tougher to “catch up,” as there is limited time to teach during the class periods. 

“[We spent] more time on fundamentals of marching than we do in a normal marching season since there were more ‘new’ marchers this year than a normal year,” Sturgeon said. “Stressing fundamental marching will be a consistent need throughout the year.”

To help with this, Field Captain Young hosted a marching clinic Aug. 18 after school to give students more one-on-one help from a handful of seniors in band. 

“It was somewhat overwhelming with all of the new marchers, but nothing we couldn’t handle,” Young said. “The influx of marchers actually made things a little more fun this time around.”