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Marching bands begin summer practice amid high heat

Experts say the number of marching band members who have become sick due to heat exposure could be low due to underreporting.
Marching bands begin summer practice amid high heat
Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 25, 2023

Marching bands in Texas are focusing on preparation in high heat as they get ready for the upcoming marching season.

"It's definitely hot, it’s Texas," said Bryan High School junior, Brigette Rojas.

Band members like Piper McLaughlin have been preparing for another hot season.

"Practicing in the morning definitely helps," McLaughlin said. "We get to go inside before the heat really kicks in."

Laura Grems is the director of bands for Bryan High School in Bryan, Texas. She said that over the next few weeks, students are starting physical conditioning. 

Then they will add their instrument and heavy uniform later, closer to when the season begins.

Temperatures in the Bryan, Texas-area, which is just north of Houston, have stayed at above a sweltering 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week. 

 "We’re really excited to have everybody back, we’ve got the full band, guard, and percussion all back in action," Grems said. "This morning has been a lot of getting back into the swing of things."

The National Federation of State High School Associations said in a 2022 report that August is the hottest month of the year for most of the U.S. 

The Federation said, "Few people understand the training and physical exertion required to participate in marching band."

A 2021 study by the University of Georgia found that between 1990 and 2020, nearly 400 marching band members reported sickness due to heat exposure, and 44% of those required a visit to the hospital.

Experts say this could be a low estimate because not all heat illnesses are formally reported.

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As preparations also began at other area high schools in middle Texas, Director of Bands Stephen Howard is making sure his band is well prepared.

"They have access to water and ice all day," Howard said.

"We’ll maybe work an hour outside and go inside to cool off for about 15 minutes, then come back out and rotate that." 

Howard said he makes sure to "give the kids some time to get some shade and a chance to cool their bodies down."

Bands preparing for their upcoming marching band performances showed "mixed emotions," according to sophomore Miranda Alvarez. She says she’s focusing on only one thing: Determination.

"We want to be ready when we do our show, and be prepared by memorizing the music and everything," she said.

This story was originally published by Chris Talley at Scripps News Bryan, Texas

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