The view from the top is a pretty good one. Or at least from the drum major stand where seniors Shaw Graveline and Ashley Goldblatt take turns leading members of the River Ridge High Royal Sound Marching Band through their halftime routine.
So far, so good, was the assessment of the drum majors during the second week of summer band camp held this month.
The freshmen seemed to be getting acclimated, the halftime opener was close to being down pat and there was a bit of a breeze to offset the morning humidity.
"We're watching for people who are off," Graveline said as band members headed for the shade during a much-needed water break. "It's hard getting your feet and the music to line up — especially when the sound echoes across the parking lot."
"It's going really well," added Goldblatt, who has been playing clarinet ever since she was a student at Cypress Elementary. "The freshmen are really picking up quickly."
That's music to the ears of director Robert Cook.
"This is a big jump for them," he said. "Most of the freshmen have never marched before. It's kind of like walking and chewing gum at the same time."
The primary goal during summer band camp, Cook said, "is to get them to do things right from the start. To get them to be a team; to work together as friends."
Hudson High Class Act Band
Number of participants: 50
Staff: Terry Adams, director; Jeff Mackechnie, woodwind instructor; Cory Ritenour, percussion instructor; Margaret Patellis and Tiffany Osborne, guard instructors
Drum majors: Swanette Cantero and Kelsey Speulda
Halftime show: "Journey." Selections include Anyway You Want It, Open Arms, Don't Stop Believing.
Competitions/performances: Outdoor Music Festival at Land O'Lakes High, Oct. 30; Marching Performance Assessment, River Ridge High School Nov. 6; Winter Concert, River Ridge Performing Arts Center, Nov. 30
Other school music programs: symphonic band, woodwind choir, brass choir, percussion ensemble, jazz ensemble
Special needs: Donations can be sent to the Class Act Band, c/o Hudson High, 14410 Cobra Way, Hudson, FL 34669 or call (727) 774-4323.
Land O'Lakes High Gator Marching Band
Number of participants: 103
Director: Richard Wohl. Staff: Nick Hobbs, Terry Burke, Sarah Bunkley, Rick Nielsen, Nia Carrington, Alejandro Guardia, Tamara Persad, Kristi Wohl, Jim Justice
Drum major: Wendy Gu
Halftime show: "Pachelbel's Paradox." Selections include Canon and Hook by Blues Traveler and Cryin by Aerosmith.
Performances/competitions: Durant High, Oct. 9; East Lake High, Oct. 23; Land O'Lakes High, Oct. 30; River Ridge High, Nov. 6; FMBC semifinals, Nov. 20
Other school music programs: concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, winter percussion ensemble and winter guard
Of special note: Jarred Sozzi is returning from his summer traveling with the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps.
Special needs: Monetary donations and sponsors are always needed; donations of old instruments, services or time are also welcome. Send any donations to Land O'Lakes High, c/o Richard Wohl, 20325 Gator Lane, Land O'Lakes, FL 34638 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
River Ridge High Royal Sound Marching Band
Number of participants: 65; color guard, 10
Staff: Robert Cook, director; Jessica Marino, color guard; Tim Niles, percussion; Jared Conaway, marching and maneuvering assistant; Sandy Orlando, band booster president.
Drum majors: Ashley Goldblatt and Shaw Graveline.
Halftime show: "The Speed of Sound." Selections include The Speed of Sound, Sonic Boom and Mach 1.
Competitions and performances: Tarpon Springs Outdoor Music Festival, Oct. 16 at Tarpon Springs High; Fall Concert with the University of Tampa, Oct. 5 at the Pasco Center of the Arts at River Ridge; FBA District 5 Marching Band MPA, Nov. 6 at River Ridge High; Winter Concert, Dec. 4; River Ridge High/Middle School combined concert, Feb. 15; Spectrum end of year concert, May 21; Trip to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2011.
Other music programs: guitar and musical theater
Special needs: Donations can be sent to River Ridge High School, attn: Robert Cook, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey, FL 34654.
Wiregrass Ranch High Marching Bulls
Number of participants: 77
Directors: George DeGuzman and Dean Donataccio
Drum majors: Rachel Jardine and Nathan Tindall
Halftime show: "Illuminations." Music from Disney's Millennium Celebration.
Performances: Winter concert, Nov. 30. All other concerts will be announced on the band's website, WRHSmusic.com
Of special note: Taylor Gibson was selected to perform with the Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps from Atlanta. This group tours the country each summer, performing shows all over the United States. Saxophonist Riley Sulick accepted a scholarship to enter the University of South Florida as a music major. She can be found playing at local jazz clubs around the Tampa Bay area. Riley is studying with world-renowned saxophonist Valerie Gillespie.
Other music programs: chorus, orchestra, advanced placement music theory, keyboard
Special needs: Tax-deductible cash donations, golf cart or four-wheeler, bottled water. Send donations to the WRHS Band Boosters, 2909 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel, FL 33543. Phone: (813) 389-1022. Website: WRHSmusic.com.
Note: Wesley Chapel and Anclote high schools were not included in Top of the Class marching band coverage because neither school provided information about this year's programs. Information concerning Zephyrhills and Fivay high schools was included in an article featuring father and son band directors Russell and Brian Schmidt that was published Aug. 14. You can read it at links.tampabay.com.