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Band camp begins

Stacey Hartley • Jul 25, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Big-box and other retail department stores aren’t the only ones preparing for back to school, as the St. Paul High School marching band is hitting the courts to practice this week.

“We’re not on a real field, unfortunately, so (there’s) not enough distance,” band director Chris Clark said. 

“We have to modify, so we can get to the end zone, which is where the (football) tunnel is … ”

The group rehearses in the parking lot next to the St. Paul Convocation Center.

“Make sure you’re on the real 30, not this one!” Clark yelled to the band down the court.

The 71-student St. Paul Marching Brass — comprised of eighth- through 12th-graders — was in its third day of band camp Wednesday practicing numbers for Spanish-themed shows this season. 

“(It’s) something different, so we’ll see if the audience likes it or not,” said Clark, who has been St. Paul’s band director for five years, but has been directing bands for a total of 29.

As far as band veterans go, Clark is joined by 18-year-old Ryan Walker, a senior trombonist who’s been playing instruments for five years.

There’s also bass drum player Zoey Hay, 14, who recently transferred from Immaculate Conception School (ICS) in Bellevue.

“I’ve been playing the flute since fifth-grade,” said the daughter of Keith and Erin. “I heard they didn’t have flutes in marching band, so I tried to find a different instrument. … I just picked the bass drum.”

On trumpet is one of the younger members of the band — and definitely one the most freshest faces — 13-year-old Lynn Beal. She began practicing with the marching band just 2 1/2 days ago. 

“I played trumpet for concert band and my mom (Melissa) did marching band, so I thought I’d might as well try because I like band.”

Walker, the son of Jim and Darlene, said one of the most significant lessons he’s learned from his band career is leadership.

“I know I’m the oldest one in that section and it’s not always easy to get 10 people to round up and learn music and stuff.

“I still don’t do it perfectly, but I try to do the best I can,” said Walker, who is the the band’s vice president.

Clark is the fifth director in the 50 years St. Paul has had a marching band. The group was started in 1969.

“This is actually the only all-brass band in the community. … So the kids have to switch instruments if (they’re playing) a flute, a clarinet or a saxophone,” Clark said.

Band camp runs through Friday.

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