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Galt, Liberty Ranch high schools off to a melodious start with joint marching band

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Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:20 am, Sat Aug 11, 2012.

Classes haven't even started in the Galt Joint Union High School District, but band and color guard members from both Liberty Ranch and Galt high schools have been busy.

Preparation started last month when Becky Woods, drum major for the Galt Liberty Unified Ensemble, along with Nicholas Blanco, assistant drum major, attended drum major camps in Sacramento and San Jose.

This week, they led a similar camp for incoming band members from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It concluded Friday.

The camp is part of the joint band, choir, color guard and percussion program at Liberty Ranch and Galt high schools commonly known as GLUE, which was founded by concerned parents. The organization's booster club helps raise money to keep music-related activities in the district's two comprehensive high schools.

This school year, GLUE is scheduled to compete at three fall marching band competitions as well as play pep music and perform at football games for both Liberty Ranch and Galt high schools. School starts Wednesday.

At this week's band camp, students developed marching skills using vocal and whistle commands, and practiced playing music for the fall performance and competition season. Color guard members also participated in the camp, developing their flag and rifle skills.

They were all under the direction of Kevin Tarrant, the new band director. He said students' attitudes at the camp were great.

Woods said about 30 students, or half the ensemble, learned how to march and play their instruments outside, since their only middle school experience was performing indoors.

"A lot of what they're doing, they're learning for the first time," she said. "I've been really proud of them."

Band member Jayna Schweigert said she liked participating in the camp a lot.

"I've never learned to march before. I'm learning how to play a whole new style of music for outdoors," she said.

Once school starts, the ensemble will only be able to practice once a week since its 60 members are split between two schools. It is Woods' goal to have band members successfully learn how to perform a field show, something she said local high schools have not done in years.

Meanwhile, the student leaders have garnered a number of awards this summer.

Woods attended the USA/Varsity camp at California State University, San José, where she earned two "Excellent" ribbons in advanced mace spinning, a "Superior" ribbon in advanced conducting, a "Distinguished" ribbon in beating time, and a "Most Distinguished" ribbon and medallion for her salute performances.

Woods was also awarded the prized Leadership Medallion, presented to the most outstanding student leader for the camp session.

Both Blanco and Woods attended drum major camp at California State University, Sacramento, where Blanco earned "Excellent" in intermediate I-pattern, "Outstanding" in intermediate drill, "Outstanding" in intermediate conducting and first-, second- and third-place ribbons in drill down.

Woods received a Master Drum Patch, "Excellent" in masters conducting, "Outstanding" in advanced conducting, "Excellent" in advanced corps parade and "Distinguished" in advanced corps beating time.

In addition, freshman Keiko Miyasato attended camp and earned "Superior" in novice parade, "Excellent" in novice pre-parade and "Excellent" in novice conducting.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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