An Inside Scoop on Berkeley’s Marching Band

Learn more about everybody’s favorite addition to the Berkeley music program

Charlotte Graham, Staff Writer

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On October 26th, the Berkeley Marching Band made its first onstage appearance of the 2017-2018 school year during Upper Division convocation. Samir Saeed ’21 reflected on the group’s performance with a smile. “Performing with such a good a group as the band,” he said. “You can’t help but have a good time.”


It may come as a surprise to many of the performance’s viewers that Brian Panetta, Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department and Director of Bands, only started the marching band last year. Panetta said he started the band to “give the kids additional performance opportunities outside of the concert band traditional set-up.” To help realize Panetta’s vision, Berkeley purchased two sousaphones (marching tubas) as well as uniforms to equip the band.


As of the right now, the marching band is strictly composed of students in the concert band class as the majority of rehearsals occur during the school day. This is due to the the band members’ participation in afterschool activities and the lack of field space. Nevertheless, the group started the season off strong with a three day band camp prior to the start of school. They also had several Saturday rehearsals where they put anywhere from four to eight hours into practicing their marching and music. Tenor saxophone player, Megan Gorsky ’20 said, “We greatly improved this year because of starting [Saturday rehearsals].”


Prior to their first performance on October 14th, the marching band attended its first ever competition. Competing in the small band division of King High School’s Lion’s Pride Festival, the band placed fourth of eight. Later on in the season, the band attended MPA (Music Performance Assessment) for Marching Band where they, along with all the other bands in the district, performed in front of judges for multiple ratings. After being judged on not only music performance but also visual effect and general effect, the band received two “excellents” and three “goods.”

Carrie Dietsch
BAND TOGETHER: The marching band huddles up after
their second competition of the year.

Those who attended the competitions, would have seen Megan Gorsky ’20 and Griffin Markowitz ’19 conduct the band. After a one-on-one interview with Panetta and a mock conduction of an assigned song, these two skilled musicians were chosen to lead the band as drum majors, keeping the band in beat.

Christopher Woods
DRUM MAJOR: Megan Gorsky ’19 conducts the
band at the Homecoming Pep Rally.

The marching band played at the Homecoming game on November 3rd and then finished up their season alongside the Pipe and Drum Corps at their new “Sounds of the Stadium” concert. After a busy fall season, the group traded in their gauntlets and shakos for comfortable chairs as they quickly transitioned into a concert band and began Winter Concert preparation.

Christopher Woods
ENDING ON A HIGH NOTE: The marching band excites the crowd at the Homecoming football game.

Looking back at the season, trumpet player, Talia Walsh ’19, recalls her great memories with the people she referred to as family. She said, “I love everyone in the band so much, and it wouldn’t be the same if one person wasn’t there.” She said they had a lot of fun, but it was not always easy. “It often got very stressful trying to keep up with every day rehearsals, all of our classes, and other extracurriculars,” she said.


Jalen Li ’19 agreed. “Working to put together a performance with both musical and visual components while outside in the heat was truly a challenge and called forth perseverance from each of us,” he said.


In the end, the band’s hard work paid off as seen in the band’s performances and each member’s individual growth as a musician.


Panetta is excited for the future of the marching band. His goals include placing at 2018 competitions and receiving “superiors” (the highest honor given) at future assessments. He also would like to start an auxiliary unit, which would include a color guard, flag line and dance team. Panetta’s challenge is finding a way to incorporate these elements without changing the structure of rehearsing during the school day, which is important to his busy students.


Gorsky said, “I am excited to see the amazing growth of the band in numbers and in skill, and [I] am excited to see which awesome marching drills and music we will learn next.”

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