Making the Band at ICC

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

FULTON – When Saltillo High School senior Ali Taylor marched into the Itawamba Community College band hall Friday afternoon, the room was mostly empty.
At one end of the room, two judges sat behind a white plastic folding table, several piles of paper spread out in front of them.
On the shelves behind the judges were instruments and their cases – mellophones, tubas and drums, among others.
But that’s not how Taylor saw it.
In her mind’s eye, the drum major at SHS saw the entire Tigers’ band.
The drum line was marching, and the color guard was moving around and waving colorful flags.
The reverie lasted several minutes while Taylor conducted the phantom performers, her arms waving with the recording of the Saltillo band that played on the room’s sound system.
“I could definitely see myself on the field,” Taylor said. “I could see all of the flags and the dancers doing their routine.”
Taylor was one of nearly 200 students who attended Friday’s auditions for the ICC All-American Band.
High School seniors and ICC freshmen made their case to be drum majors, color guard members or Indianette dancers for the 2010 fall marching season. Auditions for instrumentalists are being held on a one-on-one basis throughout the semester.
Friday’s participants won’t have to wait long to find out if they made it. The school will send letters today letting students know the results of their auditions.
Although the number of students selected fluctuates, ICC had 45 Indianettes and 45 color guard members this fall.
ICC band director Brian Gillentine said the auditions are one of the band’s biggest recruiting tools.
“We’ll see more students today than we will at any time this year,” Gillentine said. “It’s fun. We get to see a lot of kids, and we know most of them.”
Taylor was one of 10 students to audition for drum major. Immediately after she was finished, she walked straight to a water fountain, worn out from conducting. A couple of minutes later, she was still catching her breath.
“It takes a large amount of energy,” Taylor said. “I put all I have into it, and I’m always out of breath when I’m done.”
Also auditioning was Paul White, a freshman at ICC and a former Tupelo High School drum major. The key to his audition, White said, was hiding his nerves.
“They are trying to see how confident you are,” White said. “No matter how nervous I am, I need to look confident. The band looks to the drum major so whatever attitude the drum major has, the band will have.”
Nearby in the W.O. Benjamin Fine Arts Center auditorium, about 80 dancers stood on a stage behind former Indianette Tiffany Lee, who spent several minutes teaching them a routine.
Lee then took a seat in the back of the auditorium to judge as the dancers broke into smaller groups and tried to repeat that routine.
“It is kind of nerve-racking because you are up there with a big light shinning on you,” said Caroline Knight, a high school senior from Hamilton, Ala.
Outside the auditorium, Shannon High School senior Breanna Wren sat with several friends, resting after their turn on stage.
“It seems like the dance keeps coming back in my mind,” Wren said.
The dancers weren’t the only ones who had to perform a routine they had just learned. A few buildings away, those auditioning for color guard went through a similar trial in the ICC Fitness Center gym.
Bright colors flared across the room as about 50 participants waved lime green, pink, purple, yellow and orange flags they either brought from their school or borrowed from ICC.
Like the dancers, those trying out for the guard gathered in a big group and learned a routine from ICC Associate Band Director Christy Colburn and then broke into smaller groups and tried to repeat it.
“The nerves are horrible,” said Jennifer Hodges, an ICC freshman from Houston who was on the color guard this year. “Ms. Colburn is rapid. Even as a sophomore, you still don’t know what is coming next.
“The nerves are really bad, but I love the rush I get before a tryout.”
Colburn said the routine is difficult for a reason.
“I’m looking for good attitude and students who persevere and don’t quit,” Colburn said. “There are some technical demands in this routine, and I want to see them work through that.”
The staff also focuses on being positive with all of the kids who audition and on making sure they have a good experience even if they don’t get selected.
“The kids are so excited when they first get here,” Gillentine said. “We want to make sure the experience of trying out is as good as making it.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at

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