“The greatest benefit of marching band, on a personal basis, is the discipline of it,” said Steve Campanella, the director of Islip’s proud and talented marching band. “On an overall basis, I think it’s the camaraderie of everybody working together. That camaraderie is the thing I look back at when I was in marching band in high school. My best friends were all in the band with me and we spent a lot of time together. It’s nice mixing the social aspect with the musical and educational aspects.”
Campanella has been the Bucs marching band director for the last 14 years, after previously serving as assistant director. When he started, enthusiasm was at a low for what was merely a pep band. Responding to the community’s desire to have an authentic marching band, Campanella worked to enhance the quality of the program. In the beginning, it took him an entire season to teach 10 pages of drill, and now he manages to impart twice that much in a week in band camp.
“They’ve made some massive leaps and bounds in those 14 years,” he said. “It has become self-sustaining. The kids understand exactly what they’ve been asked to do.”
“I’ve been doing this since seventh grade,” said junior Jenna Lindskog, a mellophone player and drum major. “I have loved the marching band all my life and getting to perform and work with all my friends is such a privilege.”
Junior Shannon Brody, a member of the front ensemble or “pit,” also serves as field marshal. “Marching band has allowed me to meet some really great people,” Brody said. “It’s primarily student-run, and gives me an opportunity to work with my peers who are all trying to make this band great.”
“I joined this band and it completely changed my life,” said junior Erin Quinn, a tenor saxophonist and drum major. “It made me want to pursue music as a career in college. I love everyone here and it’s a family.”
This fall, the band has been diligently practicing, getting ready for the Newsday Marching Band Festival in October. They also participated in the Pursuit of Pride Competition at Malverne Senior High School, hosted on Sept. 28 by the New York State Field Band Conference. Islip’s current theme is the music of Queen, including a theatrically exciting use of bicycles.
“We try to take the next step each year, and this show is a little bit more technical and hopefully engaging for both the students and the audience alike,” Campanella said. “What they’re doing on the field is actually quite difficult, but hopefully by the time we are finished with our season, it won’t look difficult anymore. We want them to really hone those skills so they become transparent.”
“We’re taking a new perspective on the Marching Band Festival this year,” Quinn said. “I think we are going for a more fun experience but also trying to step up our technical skills.”
“Our band is preparing very hard to perform in the Newsday competition, and just getting that experience is what really matters,” Lindskog said.