High school students learn leadership, marching band skills at K-State camp

High school students from five states came to K-State for the 2012 Leadership and Auxiliary Camp. (Alex Shaw | Collegian Media Group)

Over one hundred high school students arrived on Kansas State’s campus Sunday afternoon to attend the 2018 Leadership and Auxiliary Camp, hosted by K-State Bands.

For this band camp, ending today, the signature squeal of horns and flutes could not be heard, as the attendants represent drum majors, drum line members, color guard members and other leaders in their high school marching bands. K-State’s Leadership and Auxiliary camp focuses on teaching students leadership fundamentals, conducting and performance techniques for marching band.

Several K-State band staff and students facilitated workshop sessions for the drum majors, leaders, percussionists and guard members, spearheaded by Alex Wimmer, assistant director of bands.

Wimmer said there are 114 students at the camp, representing 41 high schools in five states.

Campers started their Monday morning by listening to Wimmer speak in All Faiths Chapel about how K-State’s marching band is successful. He said the KSUMB is about business.

“We have fun doing it,” Wimmer said, “but it is business.”

He gave the campers an acronym — PRIDE — and broke down each leadership trait defined in PRIDE: patience, respect, initiative/integrity, discipline/diligence and excellence.

Throughout Monday and Tuesday, campers attended small group sessions on skills like conducting, marching fundamentals and rehearsal expectations. The camp schedule also allowed for some recreational excursions at the K-State Challenge Course, City Pool and City Park for the Manhattan Municipal Band’s weekly outdoor concert.

“I’m really looking forward today for the Challenge Course that we’re going to do, and I really enjoy the food,” said Jennifer Cardona, a student from Crete High School in Crete, Nebraska, on Monday. “So I look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Cardona and Logan Capek, also a Crete High School student, talked about what they wanted to learn at Leadership and Auxiliary Camp.

“One of our band teachers actually is from K-State, and we heard that K-State was a good band camp for first-year drum majors,” Cardona said.

Capek said he is also a first-year drum major.

“I’m hoping to take away that I can be put into a crowd of people that may not know who I am, and I can take lead of that group of people and make sure that everyone understands what they’re doing, so to speak,” Capek said.

Kortnee VanDonge, student at Holton High School in Holton, Kansas, said she was looking forward to meeting new people at the camp and experiencing K-State life “as a band person.”

“My [director] really encouraged me to come here just so I could be a better drum major and better leader overall, learn new techniques and how to work with the rest of my band,” VanDonge said. “I’m really hoping to learn better communication skills and just to be a better, more outgoing leader.”

Jessica Brummel, senior in music education, is one of the camp leaders. She said she and Blake Moris, graduate student in transportation engineering, were hired by K-State Bands to work at the camp since they were drum majors for the KSUMB last season.

“Jess and I have been with the non-experienced conductors, so like first-time drum majors, people who aren’t really comfortable with being in front of a group conducting,” Moris said. “So it’s just been amazing to see the strides that they’ve taken in just the couple of days we’ve been working with them.”

Moris said their group of campers had never done a conducting pattern before camp.

“But today [Tuesday], we were getting into cues and crescendos, and they’re ready to conduct their bands, whether they think they’re ready to or not,” Moris said. “They have the tools ready, so they just need to find the confidence, and it’s getting there.”

Brummel said no matter how passionate students are about music and being in a community, marching band “impacts the whole.”

“Everything that you learn and do in marching band can be applied to the real world and real life,” Brummel said. “It’s not only making great marchers and great musicians, but it’s making great people and great contributors to society.”

The Leadership and Auxiliary Camp wraps up today with a public performance of the campers’ marching, guard and conducting skills at 4 p.m. in All Faiths Chapel.

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.