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Ready to strut their stuff

September 18, 2005|By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Putting last season, summer break and band camp behind them, more than 20 high school bands from across the region took to the field Saturday at Martinsburg High School for the first competition of the season.

While most of the band members sought to build upon their earlier practices and saw the 27th annual Martinsburg High School Band Spectacular as the first of many competitions for this year, many still viewed it as the chance to show themselves, their parents, their band directors and their peers at other schools what they were made of.

"I just like band. I live for music. That's my life," said South Hagerstown High School senior Jennifer Ferenz, who played the flute last year, but took up the piccolo this season. "I'm so excited. I'm excited. I'm ready to start."

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About 23 high school bands from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were scheduled to perform during the event, though some were scheduled for noncompetitive exhibitions rather than competition. The West Virginia University marching band also performed an exhibition.

The bands competed for best overall performance, as well as several specialty categories, broken down into classes based upon the number of members in their ranks. The competition was judged by a panel of 11 members.

South High's band increased in size this year, adding 35 new members to total about 85 for Saturday's competition, and band director Katherine Seman said she believes her group had begun to gel heading into Saturday night's competition.

"I think they're doing a nice job. They're doing very well," Seman said. "Their attitude is absolutely wonderful."

Seman said after a two-week band camp in August, the band practices for 90 minutes daily during the school week, with an additional three-hour practice Monday nights.

As she readied herself and her band members for their first competition, Seman sought to project an image of serenity with the hopes it would transfer to the students.

"I get excited, but I don't get nervous," she said. "I've been doing this for 12 years, and you have to paint your composure for the kids. If they see you're nervous, they'll be nervous."

Still, the competition is the first of the year and will set the pace as the season progresses, Seman said. To that end, Seman hoped the students would play as well as they could Saturday and build upon that moving forward.

"It's nice to see because it's a measure of how they've progressed," she said. "The goal tonight is to do better than any practice they've ever done."

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