Independence residents who live near the high school always know when the school year is about to start. The unmistakable sounds of the IHS marching band on the practice field fill the air every August. Once again this year, band camp arrived right on time.

To say band camp is hard work is a gross understatement. It’s grueling. This year these talented musicians endured heat indices of 107 degrees to prepare the 2019 football halftime show, “Rewind to the Eighties.” Hours of marching and standing in the heat are only the beginning. How about those incredibly sore mouths from hours of indoor rehearsal of difficult music. Band camp is great training for any military boot camp and this year’s 100 plus member group not only did it without complaining, they seemed happy to be there.

“This is a great group of kids,” said head band director, Erin Shelton. Flute sectional instructor, Annette Craig, concurred. “No one acts like they don’t want to be here. They’re wonderful.”

Band camp began the afternoon of July 29 with section leaders training. Shelton based the leadership training she provides on Coach Bill Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success. “Each section leader determines what type of leadership personality they are. We talk about how the different types interact. For instance, if you’re working with another section leader that is opposite your type, is that a bad thing?” Shelton also presented situations she knows are going to arise during camp. The section leaders worked through the different scenarios and decided ahead of time what solution is likely to be the most effective.

Evening rehearsals began with the band divided into three groups. While the wind players worked on marching fundamentals (roll step, posture, horn carriage, and executing basic commands), the percussion section worked on learning warm ups and cadences. Color guard (flags) began developing their routines.

Rehearsals with the three groups together began about the fifth day into camp. This year’s half time show consisted of four 1980s tunes: "Under Pressure," "Africa," "Take On Me" and "Never Gonna Give You Up." Shelton mailed the music out to students the beginning of July. “We used to start work on the show music after our spring concert but we’ve just gotten so busy, the last few years I’ve started mailing the music out.” Shelton encouraged the students to go to the Pepper website ( and listen to the music. Practicing with the recording is helpful.

Marching charts that contained pictures of the formations and step by step instructions how to get from one formation to the next were handed out the first day of band camp. This year’s half time show was written by one of Shelton’s former student teachers, Jacob Caffrey.

After the band is familiar with the music and has their marching charts, the tedious work of pairing the music with the marching began. The first step was to have the band mark their music. Shelton encouraged the band to write the marching instructions clearly above the staff, where the different moves occurred. Aided by assistant band director, Richard Harper, Shelton patiently went through the marching charts having the different sections write in their marching instructions. Sometimes these instructions are the same for the entire band but usually not. 

After the music has been rehearsed and marching instructions have been written in, the band takes to the practice field without their horns. Armed with their marked music and True Value nail aprons loaded with different colors of weighted discs, Shelton and Harper patiently place band members on the field in the opening formation. Starting with this opening formation, band members followed the instructions written on their music and as a group they marched to the first “set.” Students, drum majors, Shelton and Harper all checked spacing and made adjustments as needed. Another weighted disc is dropped into place. This continued until two or three sets are marked with different colored discs on the field.

Band members then practiced marching from set to set, eyes on the ground watching for their disc. Next, students marched with correct horn position, even though they didn't have their horns. This meant heads up. Next, they marched with horns, but didn't play. A recording of the song they are working on is played over the speaker system. Next, they played and marched with the recording. Finally, they played and marched without it.

This year’s show averages about 10 sets per tune. That’s a lot of memorizing! The music is only the starting point.

As marching season progresses, details will be added to increase showmanship. These changes often involve the auxiliary units – flags or drum line. 

The band will participate in several marching competitions this year. Each competition gives the band important feedback and ideas about how to improve.

This amazing organization owes its success to many people in addition to Shelton and Harper. Band Boosters fed over 100 kids almost every day of camp. They also organized leftovers into snacks and provided much needed water on the field. Shelton and Harper would like to thank their students and all the adults who helped make this year’s band camp a success.

Band Booster co-presidents this year are Susan Ward and Toni Jabben. They organized the lunches for band camp but it took many more hands to feed the army. 

Each afternoon the band rehearsed in sectionals. 

Thank you to the many talented musicians from the community that made these small groups productive and successful:

Flutes and piccolos – Annette Craig

Clarinets – Don Farthing

Saxophones – Jamie Kleinert

Trumpets – Dale Belcher

Mellophones – Trenton Shamblin

Trombones – Ethan Pope

Baritones – Donivan Darrow

Tubas and drum majors – Brayden Smith

Drumline – Cy Smith

Color guard – Ashley Weber