‘Good energy’: South marching band preps for ‘West Side Story’ show

HARLINGEN — “Pulse.”

The notes seemed to dance from flutes, clarinets and other wind instruments into the parking lot, a parade of sound presented by their players.

Assistant Band Director Laura Benavides scrutinized each detail as the Harlingen High School South Marching Band practiced.

“I need energy,” Benavides said. “Breathe in.”

The music flowed, each note a drop of sound molded by the instruments and the students. Their steady and energetic power indeed conveyed the youthful heartbeat of the players.

More than 150 students spent the week preparing for the new school year which will begin in about three weeks. Band Director Shane Shinsato was pleased.

“It’s going well,” he said with a smile in the morning sun.

“Good attitude, good energy,” he continued. “This is just marching fundamentals.”

He spoke with great excitement about the new show for this year’s marching band: West Side Story. This year the school is making a departure from typical marching band music to a more 1960s cool — jazz style.

“The challenge is getting the students’ fundamentals coordinated with their playing,” he said. “We’ve got a good group of kids and they are amazing.”

West Side Story, which will be the piece performed for the half time show at football games, had a lot of students excited.

“The music is really interesting,” said Allyson Gaytan, a trumpet player.

“I like how they’ve incorporated jazz into the marching show,” she said.

Students expressed enthusiasm for the week’s practice and progress.

“We’re trying to get the band to feel like it’s together, create a family atmosphere for everyone,” said Nicholas Tapia, 17, drum major.

“We’re getting everyone to know each other, not just be a group of people trying to play together,” he said.

Tapia, a senior, observed that other upperclassmen were showing leadership potential.

“There’s been a lot of people stepping up, practicing their leadership,” he said. “They are upperclassmen who know how to explain and how to teach.”

Allyson, a senior, had great things to say about all the students.

“There’s a lot of energy in the underclassmen and upperclassmen,” said Allyson, 17.

By the numbers:

Woodwind section: 54

Brass: 48

Percussion: 25

Color guard: 17