Band of all ages a great fit for local students

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 22, 2015

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It began in 2005 as an extension of a drumline.

The LakeShoremen were a competitive drum-and-bugle corps that provided an opportunity for musicians no longer associated with a school to still be active and compete.

But since 2009, said the organization’s new executive director, Zachary Novicki, 22, of Brownstown Township, changes in leadership have meant that the organization hasn’t successfully finished a competitive season.

That is, until now.

Novicki said the group has evolved to become an all-ages wind ensemble that has all the instruments one would normally see in a school’s marching band. And with this also being the first year that Winter Guard International (WGI) has added wind ensembles to its competition schedule, the LakeShoremen finished their first winter competitive season with silver medals at the World Championship Competition in Dayton, Ohio, on April 11 and 12.

“It was really fun. A lot of people hadn’t dreamed to go to the World Championship,” said 15-year-old Cameron Mall, a 10th-grade student at South Lake High School who plays the tenor saxophone. “I feel that this band can go more places, and I can get more experience in with this band.”

Novicki met marching band students at South Lake High School in 2014 when the band’s leadership underwent some changes. He was brought in as a member of the marching band’s field staff and worked with the band through the fall, but he is no longer working with the school.

But by working so closely with students at the school and their parents, he made a lot of contacts, and now a majority of the LakeShoremen’s members are also students at South Lake.

“The experience was worth it because I got to kind of step up and work the whole picture, especially because I knew I would be taking over the LakeShoremen shortly,” he said.

The band accepts players of all ages and currently ranges in age from 15 to 22 years old. It only has 11 members right now — eight of whom are also students at South Lake — but is always looking for more to join.

“We want to get more interest in the marching arts,” Novicki said. “Arts education is being cut everywhere across America, so they’re open to small groups and getting them performing.”

Fifteen-year-old Shanna Talaban is a member of the color guard in South Lake High School’s marching band. When the fall season ended, however, she was looking for more opportunities to participate.

The ninth-grade flute player said she likes the commitment that the LakeShoremen have to the group.

“We know we only have weekend rehearsals, so we work hard to get as much practice in,” she said in an email message. “In a school band, we have the entire week to rehearse, and sometimes kids don’t take that opportunity to practice and mess around or even slack. Also, we get these big opportunities, like performing at WGI and DCI (Drum Corps International) that our school bands normally don’t get.”

Talaban said the instructors are very supportive and friendly, which she said motivates her to work hard at rehearsals.

The LakeShoremen will be performing in a variety of locations this summer, including the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade on May 24 and competing through Drum Corps International’s SoundSport in August.

The experience has been a great one for the students, Novicki said.

“It was awesome. All the kids kept saying all weekend ... they’re like, ‘This is the best weekend of my life,’” he said.

The group, the only competitive all-ages team in Michigan, also took home second place in the Detroit St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They practice weekly in the winter and summer and take the fall off, since so many members are also involved in their local marching bands.

Mall said it’s a completely different experience than at his school, however.

“There’s a lot more opportunities to have, to go more places than just with the high school,” he said. “It’s really fun. It was a new experience for me.”

For more information, to join the LakeShoremen or to find out where they are performing next, visit www.lakeshoremen.org or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/lakeshoremen. The group will hold an open house rehearsal from 12-5 p.m. May 2 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 17125 Fordline St. in Riverview, where it holds some rehearsals.

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