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Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Junior drum major Cody Burda, left, and senior drum major Allie Seyfried, right, lead the Amsterdam High School Marching Rams at the start of their rehearsal Thursday.

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Drummers in the Amsterdam High School Marching Rams line the back of the rehearsal room Thursday as they begin their practice.


AHS band to head to D.C.

Friday, January 04, 2013 - Updated: 6:09 PM


Recorder News Staff

At 3 p.m. on the dot on Thursday, the band room at Amsterdam High School fell silent.

Within seconds the sounds of instruments tuning to one another were all that could be heard.

At the helm were senior and junior drum majors Allie Seyfried and Cody Burda, respectively, while band director Michael Perry watched from his office.

"They're committed," he said. "The kids take pride in their band program and they should because we've done a lot of things over the years and built up an extensive resume."

That resume will soon get a little bit longer, as the Marching Rams are about to embark on another trip to compete.

On Jan. 18, more than 100 students in the band will travel by bus -- along with the Majorettes and Color Guard -- to the nation's capital for inauguration weekend, where the students will be participating in the Presidential Inauguration Festival in Washington, D.C.

Ann Bottiste, assistant band director, said that while the band has gotten the opportunity to travel to D.C. in the past for spring parades, this time in D.C. will be different.

"It's a busy time in D.C., obviously, and it's an interesting time for the kids to be witnessing something going on in history," she said.

Run by Brightspark, the festival will bring together bands from all over to compete.

A 19-piece jazz band from the high school will also be competing during that weekend.

On Jan. 19, both bands will show their skills in the competition and then that Sunday they will find out who came out the victors.

The 120 students from the marching band will be learning all new music for the festival, and everything must be memorized for the big day.

"Usually, we practice twice a week in the fall. A lot of them juggle lots of extracurriculars and sports and work schedules, and they still dedicate time to band," Bottiste said. "This group now is starting rehearsal back up, three times a week for two hours.

"They're pretty dedicated."

Perry said even the Color Guard and Majorettes have begun to practice early to make sure they are ready.

And even with the cold weather, the students will at some point over the next few weeks be practicing outside to get a feel for what it will be like on Jan. 19.

"It's not an endurance factor," Perry said about this festival. "It's a precision factor."

Instead of marching a two-mile parade and getting judged at the end like they normally do in the Washington parades, this one is quite a bit shorter.

"This is just one shot, just 100 yards," Perry said. "We're in a judging area that's very specific. We're playing music. The precision has to be in their marching skills, their playing skills, and their routines."

Seyfried said Thursday before rehearsal that the practice schedule is "packed full, crazy," but it's been worth it.

"I think there has been a little pressure, but it's positive because it pushes everyone to do their best," Seyfried said. "And it's paid off.

"I personally watch them and see how they've improved throughout the whole year and I'm very proud to be part of this."

Fundraisers, like Light Up the Sky, are held throughout the year to raise money for the band's big trips.

The Marching Rams Booster Club pays for the buses and meals for the students, but the rest they fundraise to bring each student's costs down.

Junior saxophone player Mike Hugo said the students have known about this trip since last year.

"Everybody in the band is excited to go on the trip," he said. "Everybody's been talking about it since summer.

"Everything we do leading up until when we leave for the trip is technically preparing for it, even the practices in the summer."

Even the work they did applying for the inaugural parade that Monday along with 1,500 other bands across the country was a learning experience, even if they were not accepted, Bottiste said.

"It's an exciting thing for all of us," Bottiste said.

Seyfried said she hopes the community knows how hard they've worked.

"We're representing Amsterdam and we're going to do our best to show how great we are."


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