Marching band keeps beat at BHS

Craig White has the oh-so illustrious honor of teaching every day in the loudest classroom at Bremerton High School.

Ah, the sweet sound of musical instruments.

As the band instructor, White is used to the noise of students clanging on things and tooting horns.

“I like watching kids learn,” he said in his office between classes last week. Outside the room, students pounded on bass drums trying to maintain a symmetrical rythm.

White has become skilled at getting large groups of kids to play together at once after only practicing together for a few weeks.

He can typically be seen during the Bremerton home football games up in the press box monitoring the formations of the band on the field.

White is celebrating his last year as the band instructor at the high school. He has been doing it for nine years.

“I currently teach the symphonic band, percussion ensemble, jazz band, beginning piano, and beginning guitar,” he said.

For the marching band, the secret to success begins with the drums.

“They are the spirit of the band,” he said.

A lot of times, the secret to playing drums in the band is keeping your feet moving on the beat.

“The feet tell the story,” said senior Kayden Kessel, who leads the percussion with the snap of his marching snare. Kessel plays so hard that anyone standing within 50 feet of his drum may have a slight ringing in their ears long after he’s stopped playing.

Like many students in White’s music classes, Kessel takes the techniques he learns outside of class.

“Marching is more of a less creative type of drumming,” he said. “But it builds muscles in the hand.

Then, when you go to play the creative stuff you have the technique and the creativity. You can be much more precise.”

Kessel is in an indie rock band called Sturgeans Law.

Playing in the snare section next to Kessel was Cameron Schnell, whose after school band just broke up.

Both he and Kessel started playing in school band in sixth grade. Kessel played the clarinet, and Schnell played the saxophone.

Alongside Kessel and Schnell was Scott Langdon, a smooth-playing junior who is also performing in the high school’s theatrical production “Godspell.” Between the set changes, they will play Led Zeppelin songs. He has been rehearsing with four other musicians on about five numbers in addition to the 15 for Godspell.

The marching band is scheduled to perform in the Sequim Irrigation Days Parade today, followed up by the Armed Forces Day Parade next weekend. Then it’s on to the Viking Fest parade, and the Victoria Days Parade in British Columbia on May 24.

“Go Knights,” said White at the end of an e-mail describing why he likes teaching band.

He’s just as enthusiastic as the kids about making good music.

Jason Joslen is one of five trumpet players in the band.

“I like the feeling of meeting new people,” he said. “How we sound together with different experiences. A lot of people are just learning to play.”

Joslen wants to teach band or conduct an orchestra some day. Already, he has been the drum major for the All City band in Seattle for four years.

Currently, the band has 55 members, including six trumpet players, two tubas, four trombones, nine clarinets, ten saxophones, two obos, 13 flutes and three french horns.

The band has won numerous awards for their creativity and precision at festivals where they play.

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