With football season looming on the horizon, players aren’t the only ones polishing their skills and routines. Members of the Bradwell Institute marching band and color guard also are hitting the turf and preparing for the season in a new stadium with a new show. The musicians recently spent a week at band camp under the watchful eye of their new director, Jeremy Fermin.
Fermin, 23, is a graduate of Liberty County High School, where he served as a drum major in the Panthers’ marching band. He attended the University of Georgia and was one of four UGA Redcoat Marching Band drum majors during the 2010-11 football season.
“But I guess now I’m a Tiger,” he said, admitting that a lot of his high school pals have teased him about trading alliances.
Fermin was the assistant band director at Perry High School last year. When he heard there was an opening at BI and saw the post on the county’s website, he applied for the job.
“Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be back and at Bradwell,” he said. “It’s nice to be back home.”
Fermin dove into his new job and scheduled the week-long camp to whip his marching band into shape.
The group met every day and practiced from noon-9 p.m., taking periodic breaks for meals.
“It’s an intense week,” he said. “This is much like football. It’s about where you set the bar, and I set the bar pretty high and, so far, they are passing it. I keep trying to push them, and they are living up to the task. I believe that the band is a direct representation of the community, so a strong community needs a strong band program.”
Because of ongoing construction at BI, Fermin and his musicians used the gymnasium at Lewis Frasier Middle School to get out of the heat. When the mercury dipped, the band headed to Freedom Field to finish practice and rehearsals.
The new director said the group currently is working on fundamentals, and his first goal for the upcoming year is to grow the band.
“Ideally, the band should represent 10 percent of the school population, which would be about 160 band members, and we are at 70 total,” he said.
Fermin said he’s grateful to the countless volunteers who helped him throughout the week. Lewis Frasier Middle School band director Jason Long, color guard instructor Tracey Chavez, DeLisha Cruz, Michael and Tammy Altman Fisk Sorenson and Steve Elise, among others, made the camp possible, Fermin said.
BI’s new musical leader said he’s excited about the new stadium and the new state-of-the-art band facility. He thinks it has given a breath of fresh air to their program.
“So many people think of a marching band as doing a block and marching to older school music … but the band is there to entertain … and this year’s show is going to rock. We’ve definitely turned the corner,” he said.
The show, called “Rock through the Ages,” will feature music from Queen, Bill Hailey, Joan Jett, Journey and even current pop group LMFAO. “I think there is a little something in it for everyone because we have music from the 50s for the older generation, and we move on through all the way up to today with LMFAO, and we have a little surprise and people are just going to have to come out and see it,” Fermin said.
Percussionists beat out the intro to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” trumpeters played out Bill Hailey’s “Rock Around the Clock,” and the marching band performed its routines perfectly leading up to the final day of camp and rehearsal. The regular football season starts Aug. 31, and Fermin said the Tigers’ marching band is ready for the spotlight.
“I’m excited because the kids, early on, bought into the program and that is the most important thing,” he said. “And I told the kids, ‘You get one chance for that first impression,’ and we are going to do it at that Bradwell/Liberty game.”