Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Can 9th graders take 7 classes?  Should they?

A:  Yes!

Q:  How does that usually work out?

A:  Marching Band (also called Symphonic band) is a class that takes place during second period and is not a zero period class. The band will do much of their field practicing during second period. Band students who are ok with taking a zero or seventh period will have greater flexibility with selecting their coursework. It is not mandatory to take a zero or seventh period in order to do band.

Jazz band is offered 7th period. Entry is by audition or recommendation of the instructor. You are required to do the Royal Alliance band simultaneously in order to receive eligibility for jazz ensemble.

Q:  Can band work with fall sports?

A:  Some sports.  This school year we had band kids in football and cross-country which worked out OK, and volleyball which was problematic because that student missed every Wednesday rehearsal.  It takes an extra level of commitment on the part of the student.  The band staff will do what they can to accommodate sports.

Q:  Are parents required to help?

A:  Not required, but definitely needed!  There are dozens of ways to help as a parent.  It should be easy to find something that fits your experience and talent as well as your availability.  Helping out is a great way to spend time with your child, and your child’s friends.  It is also an easy way to meet other parents and families.  For a few months in the fall, band may become the biggest thing in your child’s life – shouldn’t you be a part of it?

Q:  What is the time commitment for students?

A:  Practices start with Band Camp the week before the first day of school (Colorguard may start earlier during the summer.)  When school starts, weekly practices are held on Wednesday evenings and most Saturdays.  Competitions are on Saturday afternoons or evenings.  A calendar is published before school starts, and it’s updated as required at  Contests, Wednesday and Saturday rehearsals typically end before Thanksgiving.

Q:  What do they do all day Saturday?

A:  Saturdays offer an extended time to work on the field perfecting the drill and nailing down all of the visual aspects of the performance.  There are additional issues related to the musical performance that only appear on an open field.  For example, the synchronization between the battery and the pit changes dynamically as the battery moves about the field.  Also, the mix of instruments that each student hears changes as they follow their drill pattern around the field.  Saturday rehearsals give the Royal Alliance a chance to move strongly toward the perfection of the performance.  The show doesn’t get better little by little through the season — It makes big leaps of progress each Saturday.

Q:  My child plays an instrument and is also in color guard.  How does that work?

A:  During marching season, your student will focus on colorguard and will occasionally participate in symphonic band class with their instrument.  After the last marching performance or competition, the student will be in symphonic band, playing their instrument for the rest of the year.  If your student chooses to be in winterguard, they’ll split their time between playing their instrument and practicing with the team during band period.

Q:  How is the program funded?

A:  Most of the program’s expenses must be paid by donations and fundraisers.  The Music Boosters work very hard to ensure that donations and fundraising are sufficient to meet the financial needs of the program.  This obviously depends on each family doing what they can to help.  In accordance with district policy, we do not want financial need to keep a student out of the program.  If you have a need for financial help, please contact Mrs. Wyant.

Q:  Will we know all the costs upfront?

A:  Yes, the annual budget is set in May for the following school year.  This budget will include all of the shared costs across the program; staffing, music, equipment, transportation, meals, competition fees, etc.

Q:  What kinds of jobs do you need volunteers to do?

A:  We use parent volunteers to provide transportation for equipment and food; buy, cook and serve meals; carry pit equipment and scenery on and off the field; organize uniforms and color guard equipment; design, build and repair scenery; plan, run and staff fund raisers; organize other volunteers; photograph and video contests and rehearsals; run special events like the Jamba Jamboree; work with corporate sponsorships; do t-shirt design…  There are literally many dozens of jobs, from very small to quite large, that are required to keep the program going.  Signups for freshman parents will start at parent night during band camp.

Q:  Does my student need a Facebook account?

A:  Many classes and activities at Branham rely on Facebook.  It is recommended that students have a Facebook account in order to interact with the Royal Alliance Facebook page.  This is not absolutely required.  Printed materials regarding important events are also sent home with the students, and postings are made to the web site as well as the e-mail group for band parents.

 Q:  What happens at band camp?

A:  Attendance is important for all band students.  It is especially important for incoming freshmen.  Band camp is where the basics of the field show are taught.  Band Camp is also where the kids meet each other and begin to build the community and the family feeling that is so important.  This is a 6-day, all day activity.  At the end, students will have a good handle on the performance, much improved marching and instrumental skills, and a host of brand new friends that will make the first day of high school much easier and more fun than walking in cold.

Band camp involves indoor and outdoor rehearsals, meals, games, skits, reviewing other performances on video, sweat, water gun wars, laughter and fun.  Even students who resolutely don’t want to come the first morning of camp, are excited to come by mid week.  When your child asks to be dropped off early (to talk with friends before band camp starts), and asks to stay late to go to parent hosted parties (to hang out with the same people with whom they have spent a long day together), then you’ll begin to see how important the band experience and the community that supports it can be in the life of your child.

Q:  OK, I get that it’s fun.  How will band help my child succeed in college and later in life?

A:  There is a clear linkage between participation in performing arts and academic success.  Study after study has born this out.  And our own experience at Branham supports it.  The combined average GPA for the marching band and color guard as of January 12, 2011 is 3.65.   This is higher than any other class on campus!

What value do you place on your child learning to work hard as part of a team over a long period of time to achieve excellence?  Only good things come when each student is included, supported and recognizes that he or she, as an individual, is extraordinarily important to the success of the enterprise.

The surprise is how strongly college recruiters value 4 years of participation in marching band.   This shows the admissions team that the student has skills, determination and commitment that will help them succeed in a university setting.

Q:  Who do I ask when I have more questions?

A:  There is a fair amount of general information, including contact info, on the web site.  Mrs. Wyant ( is always available to answer questions about the class and program.  You may drop in to the Music boosters meeting on the 1st Thursday of each month except July at 7:00 in the band room.

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