The school year started early for dozens of instrumental music students at Bartlesville High School July 30, as members of the Bartlesville Bruin Brigade marching band began learning — and relearning — marching fundamentals, proper posture and new music for the 2018 season.
BHS band director Alex Claussen said this year’s installment of the Bruin Brigade includes approximately 125 students, who will be presenting an eclectic production of “Intersections” throughout the fall at home football games and four marching contests.
“We’re trying some different things this year with our musical selection and design of our marching show,” Claussen said. “We will be starting with Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and then ending with My Chemical Romance. So we are going though Beethoven, with some jazz, and it will have some Black Eyed Peas. It’s going to be very different and entertaining. We haven’t done something like this, really. We’ve done some things with a contemporary piece, but nothing like this.”
The show title “Intersections” is a working title, and may be changed in the future, Claussen said, but the marching piece is all about exploring how everybody’s differences can at the same time bring everyone together. These differences, in this example, being different styles of music and how they intersect people’s lives.
In addition to performing at every Bartlesville home football game in the fall, the Bruin Brigade will take the field at four different marching contests across northeast Oklahoma.
The first contest will be the Owasso Invitational at Owasso High School on Sept. 29. The band will then travel to the Broken Arrow Invitational at Broken Arrow High School on Oct. 6, the 6A-1 and 6A-2 Oklahoma Bandmasters Association State Championship at Broken Arrow on Oct. 20, and then the OSSAA Regional Marching Contest at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah on Oct. 24.
Claussen said new members to the Bruin Brigade reported for morning rehearsals Monday, with the upperclassmen reporting Tuesday morning. Afternoon sectional rehearsals and full-band afternoon rehearsals will also fill the schedule up for these 125 students prior to Bartlesville schools actually going into session on Aug. 16.
“It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication for these students to participate in band, and we are off to a great start. These kids inspire me all the time, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how our staff and students are working together before school even starts,” Claussen said.
Some students began the training necessary even earlier by attending middle school and high school band clinics and camps at the University of Arkansas over the summer, Claussen said.
“We had record numbers from Bartlesville who went to the U of A camps this summer, and this is voluntary, not a required camp,” Claussen said. “We had 54 students in the middle school camps and 14 high schoolers who also went. That is amazing training for our musicians.”
BHS senior Noah Billingsley said the experience at the University of Arkansas was one he will always remember. Billingsley plays the clarinet in the Bruin Brigade and also during concert season in the winter and spring.
After graduating from high school this academic year, Billingsley said he plans to study music education in college.
“This was my first time to go to U of A and I enjoyed all of it,” he said. “I learned so many things that I didn’t even know and fixed some things that make me be a better player. I’m going to use everything I learned from there everyday now.”
BHS freshman Maddie Shelley attended the University of Arkansas camp all throughout middle school. She plays the mellophone and this was her third year to go to the camp.
“I learned more about majors and minors, music theory and some new notes,” Shelley said. “We also learned more about how to keep our instrument clean and repaired to make sure we are taking care of it. I also enjoyed meeting other band students from across the region and country. It was fun to meet some new kids, and we all have a common interest in music.”