Douglas S. Freeman High School Bands
Rob Blankenship, Director
My student wants to join band! Now what?
How does this process start? Is there an audition?
There is no audition for concert band or marching band. Students simply sign up for band on their course selection sheet, as well as sign up for marching band (honors).
All marching band students must also be enrolled in a “regular” band class during the school day. Students receive .5 honors credit for being in marching band, and 1 credit for being in the band class. (Even though marching band only runs for about 10 weeks, or the 1st grading period of the fall semester, the students still receive credit for the entire semester).
Once students have signed up, you will begin receiving information about the marching band schedule, requirements, etc. We usually try to have a letter in the mail to all band families right at the end of the current school year. Be sure we have your email address as soon as possible. There will be a few summer rehearsals for marching band only, usually one evening each week during the month of July. These are optional rehearsals, but attendance is strongly encouraged. This just gives us a bit of a head start before band camp begins in August.
There are auditions for other ensembles within the band program, (Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble), but they occur during the school year.
I’ve heard of “band camp.” What exactly is it?
Band Camp is a 2 and ½ week period in August for marching band members only. It starts with a “new member” camp – learning basics, followed by 2 full weeks with the entire band. We spend those 2 weeks learning our field show for the fall season. The students will not only be working with the director, but also a handful of instructors that we bring in to help out. It is a very learning intensive, and extremely fun experience. Band Camp is held here at Freeman.
Dates for Band Camp are posted at the beginning of September each year. If you have minor conflicts with any of these dates and times, we can work with you. It is very important, however, that students attend as much of camp as possible. If there are conflicts please let us know immediately.
What is the financial commitment (i.e. uniforms, band trips, band boosters, etc)?
The Marching Season Fee varies from year to year. It is usually in the neighborhood of $200. This covers band camp, plus some travel expenses (to and from competitions, games) during the season. There are some other fees attached in addition to the Marching Season Fee. There is a Henrico County Uniform Rental Fee of $40 that is paid on fee night. Students will also need to purchase shoes (about $35) and gloves (about $2/pair). These items are ordered during band camp.
For Concert Band, there is a Henrico County fee for music of $10. Concert attire is also needed. Tuxes for young men are approximately $150, and black dresses for young ladies are approximately $60. There is a Spring Trip (typically in March or April) every other year that is optional, but strongly encouraged. This 3 to 4-day trip includes competitions with other school band groups outside our area, as well as fun time to enjoy an exciting new location. In 2012, the band went to New York City (about $500), 2013 to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (about $450) and 2014 to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (about $425). Plans for our 2018 trip are currently under way.
Band Booster Fee – again, optional, but encouraged. There are different “levels” that you can pay to join the band boosters.
Above all, we want all students with desire and drive to play in the band! If there are circumstances which affect your ability to pay these fees, just let us know. The Band Booster organization can work out payment options to meet most any budget; just talk to us!
How do the uniforms work?
Students rent marching band uniforms for the season with a fee on DSF Fee Night (currently $40). Band members are fitted during band camp and alterations are made as soon as possible. Uniforms stay at school, are handed out prior to each band function (games, competitions, etc.) and are cleaned by the school several times a season.
What is the time commitment for marching band? Mandatory football game attendance home & away?
This is a definitely a large time commitment. We usually rehearse 3 mornings each week from 7am until about 8:20am. We play at every home football game, about 3 away games, and at about 3-4 Saturday competitions in the fall. Most of these competitions are local, although there is one competition where we charter a bus. Once every four years, we combine with another Henrico County marching band for the Christmas parade.
It is a lot of time/work, but it is a tremendously positive and fun experience for the students. They work very hard, and the outcome is always good….and, they are receiving honors academic credit for their time and effort.
Would you answers basically be the same for all high schools?
Most of the Henrico high school band programs operate similarly. Rehearsal schedules will vary, but we all seem to be on the same page most of the time.