Looking to make history
The band would be the first of its kind for the Island, combining instrument playing and dancing in a way often seen in the United States.
Berkeley has partnered with the National Drumline Academy for the band’s creation and members will also have the benefit of a week-long camp conducted by international instructor Clifford Wesley.
“I did training with him for a week, seven hours of hardcore drumming each day,” Said Academy president Dennis Parsons. “I went to him to teach the kids the drumline techniques. The main idea of the camp is to get all the formations together because we also want the kids to move, dance and look sharp. That’s where the discipline comes into play. We’re not just going to be a band going down the road holding our horns or drums, we are going to be ‘moving’.”
Entering a marching band in the parade has been a goal of the school for the past two years.
“It is a full marching band ensemble,” explained band director Neville Darrell. “Currently you have a drumline, just the drums, at Whitney Institute and Sandys Middle School, but Berkeley will be presenting the full complement of a marching band the drums, horns and the dancing.”
The flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet and tuba will all feature in the band.
“There are a lot of life lessons in this process,” said Mr Darrell. “There has been a lot of hard work in the background to make it happen, the kids have worked hard and in the camp we will work even harder to make sure everyone has a good experience on May 24. It is like a soda bottle that you shake real good. We feel like we’re just about to open up that soda bottle and there is a lot of energy. On May 24 we can’t wait to let the top off.”
The Berkeley students are making great sacrifices in order to be up for the challenge.
“It is a lot of work involved, we have to put in overtime, especially because we are mixing a band with a drumline and that’s the first time it has happened in Bermuda,” said band member Willis Steede, 17, a lead trumpet player. “It will be a very positive thing to influence other schools to do the same thing.”
Willis also plays other instruments and on May 24 will also be dancing with the Warner Gombeys. He was also named one of the Island’s outstanding teens last weekend in both the leadership and community service categories.
“The leadership award didn’t come as a great surprise because I am a leader in the band, a leader in my gombey group and also a leader in the cadets,” said Willis.
“I have two mottos, aim high and shoot above and it’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you haven’t yet. That (second) quote I got from Mr Darrell himself.”
Patience Lowe turns 18 on Tuesday. The band member has also earned a performing arts scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London this summer.
“I’m looking forward to the difference experience,” she said. “I’m the leader of the clarinet section and have been playing the clarinet for seven years now and learned how to play the flute this year. I’m not sure which instrument I’ll be playing in the parade this year.”
Jordan Renfroe, 17, will only have one year with the band.
“It’s my senior year so it’s my chance to leave a mark on Berkeley,” he said. “It will also be my first experience with the marching band as well. I play lead alto saxophonist. I’m eager.”
Jahcoa Smith and Carl (CJ) Albuoy are also excited to be in the band.
“I feel privileged to be a part of Bermuda’s first school marching band,” said Jahcoa, one of the females in the band and a lead dancer.
“We want to do something different. Sometimes people judge us by what we wear and how we dance but we just want to show the public that we’re different and doing something positive.”
Said Carl: “For me the marching band is my first experience but it is the same as my drumline, we’re all a family, stick together and practice together. I’ve been playing the drums since I was two years old.”
The band is scheduled to perform on April 28 during the Art in the Park Festival at Queen Elizabeth Park.
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