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Pioneer Marching Band amps up for year of music
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The Pioneer Pride Marching Band works on formations Wednesday during the second week of band camp. The band has produced a number of quality halftime shows over the years.

The Pioneer Pride Marching Band at Warren County High School has harmonized its way through two weeks of band camp. 

Band and color guard members have been arriving at 7:45 a.m. each day and honing their skills until sundown.

Band director Duane Farnham says last year’s band played its halftime routine at football games, but played in place and did not march. Band camp was also cancelled. 

This season, marching is back and so is band camp.

“They missed band camp, which is really strange,” said Farnham of last year’s seniors. This year’s band members, however, have been getting to enjoy the fruits of band camp: long hours, hot sun, ponderous instruments, repetitive marching, sweating.”

The name of this year’s six-minute halftime routine is “Someone to Love.” It features songs by Taylor Swift “Love Story”, Queen “Somebody to Love”, the Beatles “All You Need is Love”, and Lewis Capaldi “Someone You Loved”. 

Drum major Madelyn Sands has a trumpet solo, and Kelsa Rice has a clarinet solo. Rice is generally regarded as one of the best clarinetists in the state.

Last week the band branched off to different sites (Hickory Creek, WCMS, WCHS), with the winds, color guard, and percussion getting in section-specific work at their assigned sites. This week, the band has brought everyone to one site for a week of togetherness.

With the late-July sun causing temperatures to creep into the 90s, Farnham says the band has been heading outside for short intervals to work on marching. 

They structure work outdoors in spurts “so we don’t die,” Farnham says. Band and color guard members have been hydrating intensely. Sunscreen and bug-spray have been applied in copious amounts.

All in all, the students and staff appeared to be in good spirits at band camp. While outside on the practice field, drum major Sands presided over the band from her perch on the elevated drum major platform. Farnham reinforced concepts with his understated, wry wit.

Band camp staff members, including recently graduated Jared Carnes and Eleanor Montandon, who kept things light with their demeanor. “Unless it’s absolutely horrendous, we’re not going to stop,” said one staff member before the band attempted a full run-thru of the opening part of the show.

The band sounded crisp and the color guard had its flags twirling in conjunction with precision.

“We did have a halftime show, but we didn’t move. We just kind of stood still,” Farnham says of last year’s band. This year, Farnham says, “We are going back to normal ... we’ve got a full, moving, marching show.”

The band has an exhibition at Upperman High School in Baxter this month. Competitions begin in September. The last Saturday in September, Nunley Stadium will hold a competition featuring 10 high school marching bands. 

Also, Penny Shockley’s award-winning Pioneerettes will be a part of the band’s halftime routine again this year. “We’re looking forward to having them on the field with us again,” Farnham says.