As a former drum major for the marching band myself, it was a pleasure to spend time with a current band member and learn what has changed and what has remained the same in band culture. I was surprised to learn that some of the changes are fairly recent. For example, instead of using marching percussion on the field during the half time show, the percussion is now on the sidelines as part of the pit crew, though the percussion still uses marching equipment for parades. This seems to be a trend going through high school marching bands in the Upstate. The rank of captain has remained, while the other military styled ranks are gone. Standing at attention has changed slightly with toes pointing out, but the marching style of heel-to-toe steps has remained the same.
Student leadership is still an integral part of the band program. Students who are interested in being student leaders have to write an essay, fill out a detailed questionnaire, and get teacher recommendations to be considered for leadership positions. The students then vote for their student leaders within the band program. Student leaders have areas they are responsible for such as the equipment captain. Each section has captains (i.e. color guard captain, woodwind captain, brass captain, percussion captain).
Among the various student leaders in Chapman’s band program this season, one student stands out. Meet Trevis Jeter – senior, baritone saxophone player, equipment manager, student leader. In my observations of the band during band camp, Trevis immediately stood out to me as being a motivated and natural leader, though I didn’t know he held the official position of student leader until our interview later.
Trevis is incredibly focused during practice, and has a natural ability to motivate the other band students to stay on track, even when the heat and humidity was draining much of the desire to continue. “I try my best to be a good student leader because during school, kids will have a lot on their minds like ‘I have a big test coming or I just took an exam, or I have a big project due Monday… I’ve had some issues going on today – my boyfriend broke up with me, or my girlfriend broke up with me’ – If you have problems like that, I’d say to leave those things wherever they’re at. When you hit that marching band field, that’s a completely different atmosphere. If by the time a student hits that marching band field, they’ve given up, the student leaders will be their motivation.”
Trevis has been playing musical instruments since he was in the 4th grade in Roebuck. “Back in Roebuck, you start learning music earlier than in other districts, and I started in the 4th grade playing my alto saxophone with lessons every Tuesday through the school. Saxophone is what I was told was a perfect fit for me.” Trevis has since played several instruments, ending his high school career with the baritone saxophone.
Musicianship runs in the family as Travis’ mother played clarinet at Spartanburg High School and his older brother played trumpet and trombone. He also has another older brother, a sister, a dog named Tiger, and a turtle. Tiger is a 14-year-old shih tzu-pekingese mix. “He was the runt of the group. His owners actually told my mother ‘Hey, we don’t want him; we figure he might grow up to be a little uglier than the others.’ So, my mom said we’d take him. I love him – he’s cute!”
Being a member of the marching band was an easy choice for Trevis. “Considering the fact that none of the other activities at Chapman High School fit me, I was already interested in music all along and marching band was an add-on to it. Day 1, they taught the basics and I really liked it.”
Trevis recalled one of his fondest marching band memories. “I remember last year we had a home football game on Halloween. The marching band all dressed up – actually, it was my sophomore year – we dressed up for Halloween. We weren’t marching in uniforms at that time, so Mr. Horton said to dress up as anything you like for Halloween. When the football players ran out, and the marching band was all lined up so the football players can come running through, we did that with Halloween stuff on. It was just funny because we could hear ‘Hey Mommy look, there’s Dracula holding a tuba!'”
The marching schedule is just as busy this season as any season. Between home games, away games, the homecoming parade, the Christmas parade, and the Upper State competition, the band stays active. The Upper State competition determines who will go to state finals, and Chapman’s marching band is expected to attend again this year. “For the Veteran’s Day Parade, we are actually going to New York this year. I have never been to New York, so it’s going to be a huge deal for me,” says Trevis. “It’s our big trip for the year.”
Trevis has excelled in his education, taking honors courses throughout high school. “I’m taking Teacher Cadet right now, so I’m learning to be a music teacher myself. I’ve just finished writing a big essay about it and so I’m signing up to be a teacher. I found the teaching course pretty interesting, so I want to teach.” Trevis has always been a Gamecock fan, and plans to attend the University of South Carolina in the fall of 2017 to be a part of the music program.
Heather Kitchen, Editor-In-Chief
Heather is the editor-in-chief of Upstate Exposures Magazine. She is also the owner of Heather Kitchen Images professional photography based in Inman, South Carolina.