Photo by Eric Bellamy


ANGEL GORANSON, 16, of Peetz High School jokes around with 15-year-old Josh Hill (left) of Salida and David Selby, 16, of Grandview between clarinet sessions Monday at the Colorado Masonic High School Band Camp at the University of Northern Colorado. High school students from across the state will march together in the Stampede Parade on Friday.


Fun, friends & flutes


UNC hosts 118 of state's best high school musicians

By Jakob Rodgers


Angel Goranson, 16, clutched her clarinet and joked with a few of the other musicians sitting next to her. Never mind that only a few hours ago, many of these people were complete strangers. All that matters now is the friendships being forged over the sound of an impromptu marching band.


"I had friends last year that people didn't believe us whenever we told them we just met;" said Angel, who is from Peetz High School in extreme northeast Colorado.


Armed with trumpets, flutes and mellophones, 118 band students from 46 high schools across Colorado convened Monday at the University of Northern Colorado for the seventh annual Colorado Masonic High School Band Camp. Checking into Wilson Hall, 9th Avenue and 20th Street in Greeley, and meeting the people they will live with for the next four days, the sophomores, juniors and seniors were then taken to University Center across the street to begin practicing for their first concert together - which was set to begin in roughly 50 hours.


Indeed, the metronome starts ticking away the moment these teenagers step on campus. The frenzied and educational four days includes multiple rehearsals, often led by UNC graduates, as the students prepare to perform 12 songs - two of which must be memorized for when they march in the Stampede/9News Independence Day Parade on Friday.


"There's not a lot of down time, so there's a lot of rehearsals; said Kevin Droe, who will conduct the band, before adding with a laugh: "Probably the most important thing is that we keep them well fed. But we give them rest and they get lots of sleep. "It's an enjoyable experience, so it's a pretty fun camp for the kids to do."


The camp is free to the teenagers, as Masonic lodges across Colorado pay the $300 participation fee. The teenagers' band teachers recommended them as the best in their class, and organizers then chose which ones to invite to the event.


Besides a new appreciation for the arts, there seems to be one overriding side effect from confining more than 100 teenagers together for almost a week: enduring friendship. Perhaps beginning at the awkward first meeting in their dorm room or during the hours that the teenagers spend at their music stand every day, friendships just seem to come easier at band camp.


"I've made friends easier than I thought I would; said Angel, who is attending the camp for the second time. "I don't know, usually I don't make friends as easily as I do here. It's easy to make friends at band camp."


According to Loren Martinez, who graduated from UNC in December 2006 and instructs the clarinet players, the reason for this is in the make-up of the camp.


"It's as simple as the fact that it's a bunch of kids who all enjoy one thing; Loren Martinez said. "And again, a kid from a small school, there's three other people that enjoy what he does, and now they're with 18 other clarinet players that love doing what they like to do. So it's just able for them to go out and find people saying, "All right, we like the same thing. I'm not alone in this; and it just builds friendships like that.


"And relationships and breakups and drama," Martinez added with a chuckle. "But kids are kids."


Blame it on the reed, for all these students care. Just having fun while learning more about their craft is all these students care about. "It's been really fun," said Angela Hutchins, 17, of Cotopaxi High School west of Canon City, who was sitting with a group of clarinet players. "Meeting people - it's what I like to do."