High school band gears up for Band-O-Rama

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published September 19, 2013

 Harper Woods High School student Jonae Rambus plays clarinet in front of quad player Rassul Abdur-Rahim during rehearsal for Band-O-Rama.

Harper Woods High School student Jonae Rambus plays clarinet in front of quad player Rassul Abdur-Rahim during rehearsal for Band-O-Rama.

Photo by Deb Jacques

HARPER WOODS — Bands from all over the area will be gearing up to take the field at Harper Woods Secondary School’s football field for a big show and a key fundraiser for the Harper Woods band program.

It’s the 19th time Harper Woods has hosted its Band-O-Rama, and the event offers a day of marching bands showing off their halftime shows. The schools will take the field starting at 11 a.m., with different bands performing through 6 p.m. Sept. 29.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Harper Woods Band Director Shannon Cayce Rogers said of the event, which is hosted by the Harper Woods Band Boosters.

The Band Boosters raise money through audience admission and concessions. The Boosters use the money to purchase new instruments, music and provide scholarships.

There are more than a dozen bands participating this year.

“We don’t charge bands to participate, which I think is why we get a lot of bands,” Rogers said.

Some of the schools with bands participating include Troy High School, Henry Ford II High School, Warren Woods Tower, Fraser, East Detroit and Harper Woods High School’s Pioneer Marching Band.

Judges are onsite to help provide feedback to the bands, but it is not a competitive event. This allows the bands to get some feedback prior to the Michigan School Band and Orchestra festival.

“We hope the programs and the students and directors benefit,” Rogers said.

Also, it gives family, friends and school supporters a chance to be entertained by local high school bands.

“This is an excellent opportunity to view your local marching bands perform their halftime routines in one location,” the Boosters stated in a news release.

Harper Woods High School’s marching band is made up of a small group of 27 students. Rogers said participating in the band provides an important learning tool for students.

“They learn time management,” she said. “They learn discipline. They learn how to work with others to achieve a common goal.”

Rogers said the Band Boosters’ efforts to raise money to help the band program are necessary for the program’s success. The district purchased new drums recently, but usually the district’s budget maintains and repairs equipment, and the Boosters work to raise money for new items.

The event had raised more than $10,000 in previous years, but with some districts cutting busing and other areas due to tight budgets, not quite as many bands can come out as in the past. Last year, the event raised about $6,000 for the band program, and they are hoping for at least as much this year.

Rogers praised the Band Boosters for their dedication to the program.

The band program doesn’t only have an impact on current students. It’s also seemingly special to those who have already moved through the program. A number of former band parents and others come back to help with the fundraising event. It’s a big event that needs many volunteers.

This year’s band has a number of newcomers, with half of the band coming in as freshmen.

Emily Jaminet, one of those freshmen, is looking forward to Band-O-Rama. She plays the trumpet and likes putting on a show for crowds.

“I’ve seen my brothers play in it, and I always wanted to be a part of it,” Jaminet said of why she wanted to join the band. “It looked like he had fun and the rest of the kids did, too.”

While the Harper Woods marching band performs during football games, they are active in a number of other ways.

“We do a lot of community events — a lot more than I think people realize,” Rogers said.

“The marching band is pretty visible in the community,” she said.

The band performs in parades and events in Harper Woods and other cities.

“We get out there,” Rogers said. “We stay very busy.” 

The gates for Band-O-Rama will open at 10 a.m. with an admission charge of $5 for adults and $4 for children, or $15 for a group of four. Harper Woods Secondary School is located at 20225 Beaconsfield.

“I’d like to invite all of the community members out,” Rogers said, adding that while she hopes she doesn’t jinx it, they’ve never had a rainout. “We expect good weather. It’s a lot of fun.”