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Harrison Marching Band: The Beat Behind the Game

HARRISON, N.Y. - The sounds of Huskies football go beyond the cheering of crowds and the yelling of coaches. And the award-winning sounds of the Harrison High School Husky marching band are no accident.

Band directors Dr. Fred Pasqua and Charlie Briem said they evaluate returning students and incoming freshmen every spring to determine strengths and weaknesses in each student. They work together to choose music, identify arrangements, and choreographing shows in similar ways to their football-playing classmates.

"We are different from many marching bands," Briem said. "Others tend to select music that they think will impress judges. Our music has great complexity and entertains our audience. We feel that if we don't reach our students and our audience, then it's a wasted opportunity."

The band also breaks down film of previous performances as they typically do on football teams, looking for symmetry and alignment as well as areas for improvement. They learn from mistakes and take note for future shows.

This year's stadium show theme, "Bewitched," focuses on conflict and exploring Broadway in a new way, the school said. It includes music from "The Wiz," "Wicked," and "West Side Story." Students participated in a one-week band camp last August to start their work on the new formations and to become familiar with the music.

But grades still come first. The directors teach to national standards and students are evaluated with national assessments, the school said. On a student's schedule, band is a full academic period daily and practices are after school. It's more than just a bullet-point on a resume.

And their work continues to pay off. Pasqua and Briem said they work closely with the school athletics office, football parents, and cheerleaders to make sure the band creates the best possible atmosphere at football games.

"At the end of the day, we are all Harrison," Briem said.

How does the Harrison High School Husky marching band stack up against other school bands? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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