Taylor-Rose Cline and Lizz Witt have been in the middle of a dream for months. Both girls are seniors at Lodi High School and leaders in the marching band.
Drum major Witt remembers performing in field shows at half-time during football games as a freshman, but since then, the training and events were limited to parade and concert band.
But when they met Glen Guevara, who came on as Lodi High’s band director this year, everything changed.
“We were worried about Mr. G. But his whole attitude at the beginning of the year was, ‘I know you’ve been through some hard times. But this is where it stops,’” said Witt.
Guevara brought back field shows, leading Lodi High students through four performances since October.
“All the seniors had been waiting to do this,” said Cline. “It’s so much more rewarding than parade. You walk out on that field and the lights hit you.”
The 28-year-old director has plenty of experience with marching bands.
Guevara grew up in Los Angeles playing piano, clarinet and percussion. He spent five years performing with Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps before he aged out at 21 years old.
In 2005, he got a job as an arranger and pit instructor for Valley Independent Percussion in Bakersfield. By 2008, the group made it to nationals and placed fifth. Later, Guevara worked as band director for Delano High School, but was laid off.
Guevara had applied for several band director positions, so he was thrilled when he was called in to interview for the Lodi High spot. He got a call confirming the job just two or three days before classes were in session.
Former band director Blair Williams left the position suddenly between summer band camp and the beginning of the school year. Principal Bob Lofsted would not comment on the circumstances of Williams’ departure.
“I knew I was coming in to a lot of work,” said Guevara. “A lot of band members didn’t have a clue how to do field show.”
At best, the band had expected to start learning field show mechanics in preparation for next year. Instead, Guevara hit the ground running.
They’ve contended with a grueling schedule since school began, one that parents and students weren’t expecting: Three-hour rehearsals two or three times a week, plus 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, to nail down intricate field show routines. Performances last about seven to 10 minutes.
Guevara said his students love marching.
“They’re able to pull through to the end,” he said.
Students and parents say it’s been positive.
“He doesn’t want to just establish a marching band, he wants to teach us what it’s about,” said Witt.
“It’s painting a picture for people to see,” said Cline. “It’s so worth it.”
Right now, the kids are preparing for a season of concerts and catching up on music basics, like sight reading, that they had to gloss over during the weeks of field show boot camp.
He’s gotten good reviews from parents and even strangers. A neighbor of Lodi High School thanked him for revitalizing the band.
“It was really heartwarming, and it gives me motivation,” Guevara said.
Guevara is proud of his students for maintaining a positive attitude through all the hours of work.
“They did really well. Every time we’re done with a field show, even if we didn’t place, they’re still happy with what they accomplished,” he said.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.