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WMS band students march into summer

Worthington Middle School band students focused on their music during band camp rehearsals this week. (Jane Turpin Moore / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON – This group has a lot of brass.

It also sports a number of woodwinds, percussionists and color guard members — 116 summer participants in all.

That’s just fine with director Mike Andersen, who was busy overseeing this enthusiastic group of sixth- through eighth graders in a two-week, mornings-only band camp at Worthington Middle School (WMS) that commenced June 11.

“During the school year, we typically have around 180 band students in these three grades; this is an optional summer program,” he explained. “But having this many students learn the music ahead of time helps us out a lot in the fall.”

Andersen has planned a Star Trek-themed parade show, which area residents will see at the Sept. 15 King Turkey Day parade.

“We have music from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ the new TV show with Patrick Stewart that’s almost more popular than the original, and then also the main theme from the Star Trek movie reboots featuring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto called ‘Enterprising Young Men,’” he said.

Andersen, who arranged “Enterprising Young Men” with permission from Hal Leonard Publishing, said the band’s sections are well balanced.

“Everybody is featured on that one sooner or later — even the low brass,” he added.

During the two-week camp, color guard and drum line members met at WMS at 8 a.m., with the remaining young musicians joining in the musical milieu around 8:30 a.m. and continuing until 10:30 a.m.

Andersen was supported in his summer band camp efforts by WMS colleagues Jeanette Jenson and Zac Paulsen, as well as by several Worthington High School band alumni (including Daniel Anderson, now a music education professional).

“We’re mostly focusing on playing and learning the music, and they’re sounding great,” endorsed Andersen. “After last week, most of them had it memorized; they’re catching on quickly.

“It’s nice to be able to pick music like this, which has the same triplets, chromatics and fundamentals used by Beethoven and Mozart but is expressed in tunes they know and really, really enjoy.”

Another thing these 11- to 14-year-olds enjoy and anticipated was the band camp-ending trip to Valleyfair, a long-standing WMS band tradition. During the visit, the summer participants played Friday for Valleyfair attendees before stowing their instruments and exploring the park and its attractions.

“This lays a good base for us, with the bulk of the students learning the music now, and they help bring the others up to speed in September when we only have three rehearsals before Turkey Day,” commented Andersen.

“And going to Valleyfair is a good way for the kids to have an audience before they enjoy themselves in the park; it’s a nice reward for putting in the time over these two weeks.”

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