By Julie Huss
---- — It’s a sure sign that school is about to start when the drum line pounds out its cadence and brass instrument bells reflect in the summer sun.
Last week, hundreds of band students at Pinkerton Academy and Londonderry High School took to the field to get ready for a new year of marching, maneuvers and music.
High school band camps give student musicians several weeks to prepare their field drills prior to opening day.
Pinkerton’s band is led by director Mike Adams, who called out drill assignments and instructions on a warm day last week on the school’s soccer field.
Everyone comes with instrument or flag in hand, ready to learn the songs that will get the group through another marching band season. This year’s Pinkerton band is about 200 strong. This year’s musical selections include a “West Side Story” medley.
Pinkerton’s band has an added bonus this fall — this is the band’s first year of marching under night game lights on their home turf.
Lights are now installed at the school’s upper athletic field, including the football field and track, in time for night games this season.
Pinkerton was the only Division I Class L school without lights on its main football field/track area. The lighting will be introduced for the first home football game of the 2013-2014 season on Sept. 13 against Manchester Central High School.
Senior Ben Allen of Derry is part of a trio of drum majors, which also includes seniors Katie Whitney and Ryan Lopresti. They all said they look forward to marching in the limelight.
“We’ve done it before, but never at home,” Allen said. “Everyone is loving the concept of night games.”
Until now, Pinkerton played its home football games on Saturday afternoons.
Being with friends is always at the top of the list of reasons to like band camp.
“We’re all part of a family, I can pretty much talk to anyone,” Ben said. “We’re in a band.”
Color guard member Katie Leonard said she now has switched to carrying the large banner, but spent years playing clarinet, trumpet and saxophone.
She’s a band girl through and through.
“It’s a way of life,” the senior said. “You make a connection you can never find anywhere else.”
Londonderry Lancer band members feel the same.
The group’s 285 students are also preparing for a busy season, coming off last year’s whirlwind schedule including a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.
On tap for the Lancers this season is the music from the popular show “Les Miserables.”
Music director Andy Soucy said students have been meeting weekly since July 4 to prepare for this season’s halftime show during football games.
This year’s drum majors are seniors Joe Conti and Danielle Souza, and junior Becky Walker. Color guard captains are seniors Nina Battaglia and Stephanie Conti.
Musical arrangements and show design were once again provided by Londonderry High School music teacher Serge Beaulieu.
Soucy said the upcoming year will be another busy one for the band including trips to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and on to New York City for another St. Patrick’s Day visit.
“After the D.C. parade, we board and drive up to New York City for the next day’s parade,” Soucy said.
He said it’s great to have two performances so close together in two of the nation’s most prominent cities.
The band took to the high school field last week one day to present its first official performance. Parents and other summer band fans came to watch the Lancers perform.
The band’s first halftime show is Sept. 6.