Anything but flat: Inside Portage Northern’s 2014 Marching Band Season


Cassandra Thompson, Special to the NL


“We called the show ‘Ugly’ so it would be a conversation starter, so that we could tell people what we’re doing and so we could get a reaction out of them,” says Jacob Ludeker (10).  He spent three weeks in August preparing for this year’s marching band season, working to achieve high placements at this year’s competitions.  This year’s show, titled “Ugly”, has put band students in high spirits, causing an excited energy to surround the band.  

  Ludeker, along with various other musicians and color guard members, spent, on average, thirteen hours a day training in the August heat for three long weeks at the Portage Northern Band Program’s annual band camp.  “It’s practically 65 straight hours of practice in which our only respite is eating lunch and dinner or sleeping at night,” says Ludeker.  Despite the extreme practice schedule, the spirit of those involved does not appear diminished.  “It’s a lot of work, but it seems like [band members] have fun,” says Shelby Fleming (11).  

  The 2014 marching band show, entitled “Ugly”, recounts the story of The Ugly Duckling.  Over a span of eight minutes, four different movements will create a musical and visual interpretation of the tale.  Band member Mitchell plays as the beloved underdog hero, running from section to section and attempting to fit into different areas of the band.  Featuring music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, as well as a large book-shaped prop, the band formulated the show to be a modern twist on the classic tale.

It’s stressful, mentally and physically, but the overall family aspect of the band helps to get us all through it

— Jacob Ludeker

  Not only will the marching band participate in various competitions over the course of this year, but they will also perform during football season at multiple games.  Megan Rinock (9) plays for the marching band, and attends each of these games to help motivate the team, as well as to gain valuable practice for competition.  “You need to be on alert, in case someone scores a touchdown,” says Rinock.  “It really tests your mental strength.”  

  The school’s general knowledge of marching band is very little, with many students not knowing exactly what band is or how it functions.  But the attitude towards the band program is very positive, with many students who are uninvolved noticing the excited air surrounding the members of the band as they move their way further and further into their competition season.  “People who have done marching band all of high school seem excited,” says Demi Jensen (9), uninvolved in high school band herself.  According to members of the band, part of the excitement is the time spent with other band members, who become extremely close to one another over the marching season.  “It’s stressful, mentally and physically, but the overall family aspect of the band helps to get us all through it,” says Ludeker.  “We’re always yelling and laughing and running between sets in rehearsal.  Everyone really just tried their best to get their work done while maintaining this family and friends vibe. ”