Marching Indians Prepare for Season of Crowd-Pleasing Parades

Adam Alexander, veteran drum major, leads the Marching Indians in their Labor Day parade appearance. Alexander carries a mace, common in Big Ten-style and show-style marching bands, and a whistle, used for calling cadences to the band’s drumline.

Gone are the years of pep band sets on the parade route: Altamont Community High School band director Sara Berg has bigger goals for her ensemble.

This year, the Marching Indians are taking a medley of songs from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, as arranged by Paul Murtha and distributed by Hal Leonard, to the streets. The medley includes several quotes from the film’s iconic soundtrack, and will thrill audiences and challenge students.

As Berg notes, the medley goes through several different time signatures, which makes the song more interesting for the listener, but also complicates things for marchers. To negotiate the signature changes, the band has incorporated a halt and some “body,” or non-marching motions, that match the time change. Locals at the St. Elmo Labor Day parade may have already noticed a full-ensemble halt, swaying sidesteps, and pace changes during the band’s performance.

In addition to exciting musical choices and changes in pace, the band’s performance will also feature themed costumes and equipment. The color guard, coached by Nikki Tedrick, has already debuted their new skull-and-crossbones silks for the flag line as well as a two-person rifle line. According to Berg, the winds and drums will eventually wear pirate-themed costumes in addition to their classic uniform.

The most vital element in the band’s success this year, though, will be its students. In particular, Berg is excited to watch the ensemble’s 17 freshmen grow, though she also highlights key ensemble leaders, like drumline leader Colby Antrim and drum major Adam Alexander. Thanks to Antrim’s guidance, the percussion section has already mastered and performed seven cadences out of their repertoire on top of the parade tune. Alexander, meanwhile, is highly trained and precise as a conductor; he attended two Smith Walbridge drum major camps before the season began, one of which helped him improve the mace work that the Marching Indians debuted several years ago.

“I expect a lot of growth over the season and our Halloween parades should be some of the best performances we’ve ever given,” Berg says of the ensemble.

Altamont residents can catch the band next on Sept. 29 in Mt. Vernon, then on the Oct. 6 Little Egypt parade in Salem. Finally, they appear in the Vandalia Halloween parade on Oct. 25, the Oblong Spooktacular parade on Oct. 27, and the Effingham Halloween parade on Oct. 28.

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