Albert Lea flag and drum line’s season rolls to a close

Published 10:45 am Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Albert Lea High School flag and drum line ended the season this weekend with the Third of July Parade in Albert Lea and the Fourth of July Parade in Austin.

“It’s really been nice to see that they’ve really advanced well on the technique,” said director Peter Gepson. “It’s more than just learning the music that we play. Their overall technique has improved.”

Only five of the 19 students in the drum line are percussionists in band, Gepson said the experience will help them when they begin band again next school year.

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“The nice thing is that when they go back to their wind instrument, this will make them a better player. They’re just better musicians for having done it,” Gepson said.

One of the highlights of the season was an overnight trip June 27 and 28 that ended with the drum line and color guard finishing third in their class at the Lake City Water Ski Days Parade on June 28.

Gepson had said the group would not be competing, but Paul Holland, the band director of Lake City High School, contacted Gepson about the possibility of being judged in order to receive comments to use as feedback.

To receive judges comments, the group was entered into a class with two other bands, so Albert Lea was guaranteed a third place finish and a cash prize.

Albert Lea received zero points for the wind instrument categories, making it highly unlikely they could match the score of a full band, so Gepson said the drum line and color guard had little chance of beating the bands.

However, Gepson was able to look at how the drum line compared on the score sheet with the other drum lines, and he said Albert Lea drumline scored third out of five drumlines at the parade, behind Owatonna, the grand champion of the parade, and Buffalo.

Gepson said the Lake City parade was the group’s best parade of the season up to that point. He said the atmosphere of the parade and the bond that formed over the two-day trip both played a part in that. Before the parade, the group practiced at an athletic field next to the other bands. Gepson said being watched by members of other bands, and being able to watch other bands was a positive experience for the Albert Lea students. 

The drum line and color guard started that trip by marching at Valleyfair Amusement Park & Soak City in Shakopee around 10:45 a.m. June 27. They then spent the day in the park until 7 p.m.

They spent the night at the Red Wing Family YMCA. Then before the Lake City parade Sunday, they toured Hobgolblin Stoney End Music, a music business located in a barn just outside Red Wing that builds harps and Celtic drums. The Albert Lea students toured the facility with owners Gary and Eve Stone. 

Gepson said it’s possible Albert Lea could have a full marching band next year or in years to come, but he said it largely depends on students’ interest.

“If every one of them could get two or three of their friends involved next year, that problem would be solved. We would have enough for a full marching band,” Gepson said.