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Marching band working on 'Femme Fatale'

The band hard at work in the southmost baseball diamond at Lake Orion High School. The musical group is 140 members strong this year. Photo by O. (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

A constant beat of music has filled the air on the Lake Orion High School campus and nearby neighborhoods this summer as the marching band prepares for its 2011 season of competitions, football games and other events.

Though the 140-member band is away at camp this week in Torch Lake, they will soon bring home their horns, drums and other instruments, plus flag corps, to entertain the community.

While most people think the band members always practice together, this is not always true, said Band Director Michael Steele. After warming up, the band splits into respective sections of brass, woodwind, percussion and color guard.

These sections scatter throughout the high school campus to practice in parking lots, baseball fields and anywhere in between.

Sometimes they practice music, while other times it's marching.

"Nobody's born knowing how to march," Steele said, explaining how band students are taught how to hold their bodies, their instruments and angle their toes and feet – plus, of course, where they should end up on the field.

The band comes together as a whole later in practice on the junior varsity baseball diamond, marching certain sections of the score or playing music.

This week's camp is significant, for it is the first time each summer the band members play and march at the same time. It is hard work, but they also take part in a variety of other activities to get to know each other, wind down and bond.

"Students may zip-line, make use of the lake, or take part in a various other activities apart from practice," Steele said. "It is a complete camp experience."

The band director said the program they are practicing for the start of the season is a rigorous one. Titled "Femme Fatale," the show is based on the music of the opera Carmen. A character, the femme fatale of the title, moves through the music of the show. She "corrupts the men she meets, as any true femme fatale would," Steele explained.

While musical talent abounds on this year's marching band, the strength of this group is not its show per se, but rather its work ethic, he said.

"The students, especially the older ones, have come to know what the results of hard work are going to be," Steele added. "I think there's a higher level of understanding of what hard work means and what it means to do it."

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