Pride of Cove members clung to their instruments Wednesday as they moved to systematic beats of a metronome in the parking lot of Cove High School.
“Five, six, seven, eight” the cluster of students yelled as they conformed to several uniform movements. On the various counts, they struck a pose and held their marching positions.
“It is hard work, but it is good,” said Brandie Fredericks, a 14-year-old freshman, noting that the drills and instruction helped her posture, playing and marching.
Fredericks was one of about 250 students who started the Pride of Cove’s summer training sessions Tuesday, which turns into 12-hour days next week.
The beginning of the summer program works on fundamentals before the first show on Aug. 30, but it also is a growing, bonding and educational experience for students, said Randy Kelley, Copperas Cove Independent School District head band director.
“The first week is about getting rid of the cobwebs and working on the fundamentals,” Kelley said.
“It is intense, I am not going to lie. ... Our goal is to be able to march in any condition.”
Students learn about marching and playing their instruments during the 9 a.m. to noon drills and 1 to 4 p.m. music lessons in the first week. Practices will be stretched an extra five hours starting Monday and ending Friday, Kelley said.
The summer program also teaches teamwork, discipline, communication and strengthens the students’ relationships with one another, said Evelyn Binkard, an assistant band director.
That’s why the schedule allows students time at city pools, lunch and entertainment from upper class bandmates, Kelley said.
“There are kids in here that are going to have friends for life,” Binkard said.
The group’s camaraderie is one reason Brandie joined the group. Her brother was in the band before he graduated in 2012, and she wanted to build the same types of relationships and have the same success.
The teamwork, time commitment and the discipline learned during the pre-school practices should be something the students carry with them in the classroom and life, Kelley said.
“This time is used to establish the work ethic that is expected throughout the year,” Binkard said.
Directors are already talking about academics and grades. If one student has a failing grade then they are letting down the whole band, Kelley said.
Cove High School senior and drum major Robert Bigford said he worked really hard to accomplish his position in the Pride of Cove this year. Some of that success is attributed to his work during previous summer practices.
“It is tiring, but all in all it is very rewarding,” Bigford said.
“When you get to the game in August, it is really nice. (The training days) get us looking uniform. They get us to know each other, and for the games and competitions it ends up being perfect.”