CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) – They reign from the land of copper in Calumet.
“I even had someone come up to me and tell me that when they hear the band marching down, they get goosebumps just by hearing us,” said senior drum major, Sofia Rivera.
“A lot of community members just really love coming to the football games just to listen and watch the band on the field,” said senior sousaphone player, Keith Billeck. “Everyone just wants to hear us play because we’re the pride of the Keweenaw.”
No matter who you talk to, the marching band at Calumet High School is known as, ‘The Pride of the Keweenaw.’
“I’ve gotten to know the kids so well that I care about what we’re doing every day and I want them to work hard, but I also want them to have fun,” said band director, Ryan Watt. “We’re out here every single day when it’s sunshine and sometimes when it’s rain, but we work hard to make good music and we want to preform hard for our football team and our school and our community.”
It shows with what this group puts out week after week for the Calumet community.
“We actually start like around August,” said Rivera. “We have band camp so, it’s kind of like a week where I think we did it for like six hours a day or something like that. So, we start in the afternoon and then we go into the evening and we all rehearse first our music, just in sections. So, each instrument has their own practice session and then we all come together and play our music too and then we have mentors that come and help and stuff like that. Even us this year, we helped contribute to just helping individuals with their music and stuff like that. And then, we would all come together and play and then we would go out to the field and teach all the newcomers all the marching skills and drills and stuff like that and how to be good at playing and marching at the same time.”
“I think that there’s a lot of behind the scenes that really no one sees,” said junior drum major, Allison Alger.
“I’m very fortunate to have a school that does care about our band as much as they do,” said Reece White, senior percussionist. “If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
“Since I play the tuba, the sousaphone, it’s usually not very interesting parts,” said Billeck. “We’re usually just keeping the beat. Sometimes we have some cool parts, but when it comes together, you can just get some crazy goosebumps when the whole band is playing and it’s just so powerful.”
Enrollment in the band is growing with 73 Copper Kings showing their school pride through music.
“A lot of that has to do with the community that we build within band,” said Watt. “We spend a lot of time getting to know each other. At the beginning of class, we share good things or phenomenal things that are going on in their lives. I get to know them and I get to know their families. I see them around and they see me around. It’s a team building, but it’s also a family that we create.”
But at the end of the day, it’s to grow in other ways.
“I want to continue growing,” said Watt. “I want to continue growing and I don’t want to think of it as five year plans or specific year goals, but to continue growing and growing as musicians and as good human beings, because I share with them a lot that many of them might not continue playing when they’re adults or maybe they’ll play in a college group or a community group, but they learn so many things from band. They learn how to help those that maybe don’t do as well or don’t understand as well and so, you have those upperclassmen that work down. It really helps our humanity to grow and that’s the number one thing we’re looking for is good people to come out of the community.” “