Behind the Scenes of Marching Band


Photo by Kunal Pandit.

During the fall, it’s not uncommon to hear the sonorous rhythms and fanfare provided by the Los Altos Marching Band and Color Guard early in the morning. This group of 80 students perform at several athletic events, pep rallies, competitions and community parades throughout the first semester. This season proves to be interesting as Director Ted Ferrucci has made a few changes to the program and has added several new instructors and members.

Ferrucci has removed Tuesday afternoon rehearsals this season to help accommodate the busy schedules of the students and instructors. Additionally, Ferrucci recently hired several new instructors to assist him this season. Percussion instructor Brandon Satterthwaite and visual instructor Jeremy Ranoy are two new additions to the marching band staff. They help with planning and organizing rehearsals. There will also be two Los Altos alumni assisting Ferrucci this year.

“Daniel Noel, who graduated in 2015, and Isabel Guerrero-Lubarsky, who graduated last June both marched in [Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets, a competitive drum and bugle corps] last summer,” Ferrucci said. “Our new instructor, Ranoy, also marched in drum corps.”

The members of marching band are excited and looking forward to working with their new instructors.

“Brandon added some new rehearsal protocol this year that has been different from past years,” senior Ashley Vergara said. “It was hard to adjust and remember all of [the new directions and techniques] but they are very helpful… I think all three [new instructors] will help a tremendous amount with our success this year. They are all very good at what they do and pay attention to the details.”

Not only are there several new instructors, but marching band has also added a large freshman class of musicians. Marching band typically introduces a relatively large number of freshmen to the program every year. While Ferrucci is glad that there are so many students interested in performing, it also presents a challenge for the program.

“Everybody in the band has to be on the same level of musicianship and marching ability,” Ferrucci said. “We really are working from [the week before school starts] all the way up to our last performance of the season, which is in November, to get the newest member looking as good as the oldest member. This is a competitive sport where nobody is on the bench… everybody is being judged on the field.”

But despite growing pains, marching band continues to be successful. Last year, they won High Music awards at the AA category of the Western Band Association State Championships and placed 3rd their division. Marching band’s thorough drill-crafting process for their performances has helped them provide these award-winning shows.

“Mike Zerbini is writing drills for us once again,” Ferrucci said. “[Zerbini] takes the size of the band… and creates a visual idea that morphs from one set to the next. Then we add choreography through the color guard and… a huge crew of parent helpers helping with props and sets.”

Marching band continues to bring a family feel and environment to their rehearsals and program. Although they are very competitive, they are a close-knit group that through all the composing, drill writing, and early morning rehearsals continues to build on their sense of community and togetherness.

“We call ourselves a family because we help each other when we need help,” Ashley said. “You end up creating a bond with the people around you, which is one thing I’m going to miss [after graduation].”