MDI High Marching Band Struts Its Stuff

Mount Desert Island High School’s new band director Pavo Carey has inspired students to perform with a marching routine at home football games.

BAR HARBOR — Halftime at Mount Desert Island High School’s football team’s home games used to be a chance to get a hot dog and drink. Now, the popular concession stand is competing with the school’s marching band, a 60-plus member aggregation that takes to the field with a halftime show featuring the music of Lady Gaga.

In the past, musical cheerleading for the football team was left to the pep band, said the school’s music director, Paavo Carey. Mr. Carey, who is in his first year teaching at MDIHS, said the idea to have the band perform a halftime show came from learning that the pep band traditionally played only during the first two quarters. Mr. Carey urged the musicians to stay for the entire game by suggesting they might enjoy playing the school fight song if the Trojans should win. Once band members were onboard with that plan, Mr. Carey upped the ante.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t you like to be out there so [the people in the stands] can see you?’” he asked the band.

It turns out the band members did want to strut their stuff before the crowd. Mr. Carey quickly found himself teaching basic marching steps and techniques. The routines, so far, rely on fundamental steps and the basic block formation, Mr. Carey said. However, on Friday, for the final home game of the season, the band planned to step out of their usual routine to form a giant “T” for Trojan. As simple as that might seem, it was a milestone for the budding marching band.

“Each week has been a little different,” said band member Flannery Dillon. “We’re always trying a lot of new things.”

The sophomore, who plays flute, said she had no second thoughts about performing at halftime.

“It’s a new experience and I thought it would be cool,” she said.

She admits the early efforts by the band were far from perfect.

“At first, it was really confusing and a lot of people didn’t know what they were doing,” Ms. Dillon said.

The initial awkwardness has worn off, and the band marches – and plays – with a precision unimagined during that first practice.

“They’re into it; they catch on quickly,” Mr. Carey said.

The band is led by drum major Mary Ellen Sharp, who assumes the persona of pop maven Lady Gaga.

“She dances, cheerleads and gets the crowd up,” Mr. Carey said.

The halftime performance consists of three Lady Gaga songs, “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance” and “Just Dance.”

A Green Day tune, “Holiday,” completes the set list.

Mr. Carey is in hopes that the marching band program can expand.

“My hope would be to have a camp in the summer in order to get a jump-start for the year,” he said.

He also has set his sights on the band performing a full-fledged halftime performance, a step up from the halftime shows of this season.

Another goal, Mr. Carey said, is to write out his own arrangements of songs for the band. This season, he wrote some of the drum cadences that accompany the band onto the field.

Another goal, one shared by Mr. Carey and Ms. Dillon, is for the band to purchase uniforms.

“All we have is the band T-shirts,” Ms. Dillon said.

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Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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