Biggest Club in the Land: Mariner Band

Lisette Blanco-Yanez, Writer

The Mariner High school band has been turning heads as they continue to grow in numbers. Quickly, it is becoming a strong center of pride in the school, and one of the biggest clubs in the 50-year history of Mariner.

Part of this growth has come from the dedication of the band director, Chris Angelos, who has been the band director here at Mariner for 16 years. As the only band director here at Mariner, he takes on a lot of responsibilities, such as teaching jazz band, all three concert bands (concert band, symphonic band, and wind ensemble), marching band, and a pep band.

 Looking back to when Angelos began, he recalls the program was only “about 75 [students] total.” In his first year teaching at Mariner, there were “only two concert bands. 30 in concert band and in wind ensemble, just under 40.”

Angelos also recalls “a different culture in the band program.” When he arrived, the band was all about “competitive marching, indoor percussion, [and] indoor color guard. The concert stuff wasn’t very important.” The band also didn’t have the presence in the school that it does today. More specifically, the student body didn’t, exactly, care whether or not the band was present at sporting events such as football or basketball games. Even the band kids themselves “only cared about their halftime show, and would only play one or two songs for the rest of the game.”

With all of this in mind, Angelos set out to change the culture of the band. “Changing the culture was a challenge,” but with his hard work and dedication, the band has improved its sound with each performance done.

Mr. Angelos says that as “ the band has grown, more people want to be in it.” There’s no arguing the growth as 40 new freshmen that have joined this year alone. Angelos knows that as long as the band continues to be successful, more and more are going to want to join.

Band is more than a club and a class, though, it’s an experience. As Mariner Band alumni, Rosemary Blume claims, it’s an experience that can potentially help them come out of their shell

Rosemary Blume graduated in 2015. For Rosemary, band was a place where she learned to speak her mind and have more confidence. For her,  “Everything we did in band, solos, group rehearsals, parades, field shows, all helped me grow my self-confidence as well as teach me how to work hard so that I can rightly show pride in what I do.”

She also recently saw the band perform their 2019 field show, and has seen a noticeable change in size. “It’s great that more students are getting involved in music.” She’s happy that many more students will share similar experiences as she once did because overall, the most important thing she took from her experience was confidence. This strong asset has helped her take pride in whatever she is involved with.

Being previously involved as a clarinet player and a tenor sax in jazz band, she notes that she misses the time spent together in and out of rehearsals and the traveling done with friends, “even if it was just taking a bus ride to one of the colleges for a performance. Traveling with my friends was something that made the experience better.”To her, the band can only be best described as a family.

Although it can be “chaotic in a way… I’m not sure it could have been different.”  Current senior trumpet player, Mayvellene Segura, can definitely agree on the family aspect

When Segura looks back on her four years of high school, she wishes for one thing to continue and that’s band. She hopes the band “keep[s] on achieving the next level, and to continue its growth as a big band family.” Segura takes pride in her band family. Over the years, she has seen “ the practice rooms become tight on space because a lot of people are working hard towards their goals.” And when describing the band kids, she thinks of artistry and determination. In the four years, she has been involved, she has seen a positive effect on her lifestyle. It has helped her release stress. For Segura, the best part of the band is getting to “master a song piece with a group of talented musicians.” Playing her trumpet has given her a sense of triumph and pure happiness since she knows that she has performed with enough emotion to move her audience.

Along with the sense of triumph she has realized that “ music education benefits students.” With the ability to express herself with music, she has been able to “ become more openly creative with others.” Band has helped Segura easily express her thoughts, unlike freshmen year. Her connection to music has lessened her doubt about whether or not people listen to her.

Just as Segura’s journey in band comes to an end, new ones begin. These new musicians that hope to take the group to the next level are only freshmen.

The 40 freshmen that have joined marching and concert band are on the path to continue to improve the band. Especially because they’ve already shown determination to be the best they can be. Both Alma Blanco and Sandra Nguyen can agree that they want to improve. Watching the upperclassmen do “their thing” has inspired them to improve on their own skills and to reach the same level as the current members. For both Sandra and Alma,  the annual football game was their first time watching the band in action.

The annual football game is where Explore and Voyager eighth-graders come and play with the Mariner band. All the new, incoming freshmen get a chance to be a part of the current MHS band.

Sandra, a freshmen flute player, only knew beforehand from classmates that “this band was a cooler version of every band in middle school.” Now Sandra is a part of that ‘very cool’ band, and she plans to keep it that way. She is also very excited to be a part of the rest of the activities the band is involved in.

Alma, a freshman trumpet player, also sees eye to eye with Sandra on working hard to become a good musician. Seeing her siblings be a part of something so big, made her want to join as well. She wants to “inspire young musicians to join the band in the future.”

Both freshmen are excited to go on field trips- especially Alma, who wants to “make new friends and memories in band.” 

The Mariner high school band, as it prospers, has already affected many of its freshmen and the soon to be mariner students in continuing to flourish as musicians.

That continues to be Mr. Angelos’s goal, to inspire the band to keep raising the bar. As the years go by, he hopes to “ keep pushing students to play more challenging music and where the wind ensemble is playing a grade 4 piece… the next year symphonic band can play that piece.” He hopes to see their abilities grow.

The culture over these years has evolved into nothing less than a family. And like every family, they aren’t perfect. Whenever a family grows, there are growing pains. In a family, people are going to fight and complain, but it all depends on how you get through them.

Mr. Angleos believes that the band family has struggled through their differences. Like before, there wasn’t even a leadership team when he first started, and now they “rise up when it’s necessary. To either perform the music or to run harvest fest.” Is the band perfect? Nothing is. But for the band, As long as they continue to grow , Angelos beleives they will “see the benefit of what music can do and should be.”