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Elvis is on the Field: Band Camp Introduces Students to the King - from The Messenger

August 8, 2019

The medley the Fort Dodge Senior High marching band will be playing and marching to this year should have a familiar ring for the older members in the audience. Some of the students playing it, maybe not so much.

"It's all Elvis," Band Director Al Paulson said Wednesday while the 140 members of the band took a break from the heat during the weeklong Band Camp being held at the school.

"It starts out with ''Jailhouse Rock,'' ''CC Rider,'' ''Hound Dog'' and ''How Great Thou Art,'" he said. "It's taken from his last tour."

Kyra Curtis, 15, a sophomore, was among those who were new to Elvis. reflection of students in tuba

The "King," who died in 1977, wasn't an artist she had heard before.

"Personally," she said. "Not really."

As a new member of the marching band, the camp was an intimidating experience - at first.

"It's so scary," she said. "I thought I don't think I'm going to make it. It's day three, I'm surviving, I'm doing fine."

Paulson tries to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for his students.

Curtis likes that.

"It's like a big Thanksgiving family," Curtis said.

Paulson drives the band to practice and practice hard.

Anna Marxen, 15, a sophomore, donned mirrored sunglasses and hat as she played her trombone and marched.

"I love band camp," she said. "My favorite is the actual being together, it's almost like a family."

She agrees, they work hard.

"He goes hard," she said. "But it's all with love."

Band camp is the first opportunity for Paulson to work with this year's band.

"We try to learn as much of the music and drill as possible," he said. "I want to get them excited for what we can accomplish in the fall."

The week long camp gives the students a full day of music. They start out with several hours of music, then have an hour of marching fundamentals, he said. In the afternoon, it's two hours of practice on the field and then another hour of music inside. They also spend some time reviewing the previous day's work.

He said that each year's band has a little different vibe to it. He said they're working hard, learning well and and have some great student leaders to guide them along as well.

Twenty-five of the 140 band members this year are new, he said.

The family feel is meant to be, according to Paulson.

"I try to develop a home-like feel with the band," he said. "When they come into the band room, it's their home."

The Color Guard works along with the band during the camp.

Kayla Evans, 15, a sophomore, feels it's home too.

"I enjoy being able to see my family," she said of her fellow Color Guard members.

The hard work is OK with her.

"It's a little harder than last year, but not enough to break me," she joked.

The results of the band's week of hard work can be seen Friday evening at Dodger Stadium when they will offer an exhibition performance starting at 5:30 p.m.

Admission is free.

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