Several Northwoods school bands joined together musically to put on a show Wednesday, March 6, as part of Lakeland Area Band Day, an annual, transitional event for all area band students.
Under the direction of Bill Richter, Lakeland Union High School band director, students from AV-W, Lac du Flambeau, MHLT and North Lakeland School gathered at MHLT to rehearse for the final performance.
“The kids are pretty excited. They are exhausted by the end of the day,” Brenda Bant, MHLT and AV-W band director, said in a previous interview. Bant has been the band director at MHLT since 1987 and also AV-W since 2010, alternating every other day between the two schools.
The hosting school – this year, MHLT – chooses the music for band day, and students from all participating schools learn the songs ahead of time. On band day, the young musicians have about three hours to practice together, followed by a concert for the school and community guests.
“It is a busy and exciting day working on music and meeting new friends from the area schools,” Bant said. “Each of the area schools takes turns hosting this event.”
Lakeland Area Band Day occurs every year in March, which is “Music in Our Schools” Month. Students from Lakeland area schools have been performing together in this event since 1988.
Preparing for Band Day
Working with students from across the Northwoods to prepare for Lakeland Area Band Day takes time on both the students’ and the school band directors’ part.
“Some of the biggest challenges of preparing students for concerts and other events is the lack of time I have with them. Band lessons are only 20 minutes once a week, and students need to miss these from time to time,” Bant said.
In order to attend band lessons, students have to miss a portion of their other classes.
“The students’ other classes have to take priority at times over band lessons. This isn’t a perfect schedule; however, it is what we have to do at both schools.”
Another obstacle students must overcome when learning an instrument – which turns into a life lesson – is patience.
“Students today want instant gratification on their instrument and do not like to practice at home,” Bant said. “Unfortunately, the lack of practice time hurts their overall progress. I try to counteract this with different activities that may motivate them to practice.”
Though Bant puts in hours of work with MHLT and AV-W students, the end result is worth it.
“The final concert performance can be extremely rewarding when the music comes together and they perform well,” she said. “The excitement I see from the students when they are successful is priceless.”
Seeing the impact that her music direction makes on students is another perk of being a band director.
“Having students come back years later and share special memories with me about their years in band [and] watching students continue in music after school, even if they are in a rock band or a formal band, it is exciting thinking I may have made a difference in their lives.
“Even though there are many challenges to being a band director at two schools and an excessive amount of work, I enjoy all of my students, and their enthusiasm keeps me going. Middle school students have so much energy that is contagious.”
Sarah Hirsch may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.