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Friday Night Halftime: Behind the Scenes

The leaves are turning and football season is starting. This means the marching band season is starting as well. Students throughout Gwinnett county witness halftime shows and drumlines and bands in stands every Friday, but how much is really known about the band?

“The band is there to play for the football team,” a freshman from Peachtree Ridge stated. However, the newest band director of Peachtree Ridge, Blake Unger, states that “The band is there to set the school spirit and the cheers and the level of enthusiasm for the students.” Students see this during the football games at Peachtree Ridge but it is not clear on what occurs outside of these performances.

As many sports and any physically-demanding activity goes, preparation and discipline are key in the band, which requires practice and effort. “The leaders of the band want us to always be working our hardest.” says Bridget Hoang, a first-year marching member. The marching bands in other schools besides Peachtree Ridge are always preparing for a performance in order to do their best just as a team preps for a championship. Due to this similarity, the hours of the football team and marching band are very alike and are always practicing.

Marching bands throughout the county are also competitive. This is the main focus of their practices. From the end of September through the month of October, bands across the region play Friday nights and return to perform Saturday. “The halftime shows that [the students] see is usually more-involved, longer, might involve more props or theatrics than what they see on Friday nights,” says Unger. The members of the band visit schools everywhere in the region and attend a competition for up to 14 hours in a day and 3 times-in-a-row on weekends in October.

The season does not end after football does either. “It’s a year-round job. We start planning the show for next year in late fall and by January and February we are probably putting in 20-30 hours per week in writing the show and contacting the staff and the drill writers, music writers and then orders are placed. Then through late March to July, band camp is being put together and the cycle starts all over.” Unger explained.

As for the future of the band, Unger says that he hopes to have the bar of expectations raise a little bit every year in order for the band to be at their best. “We want to maintain what this organisation has had in the past and we want to make sure that by the end of this season, we have raised the bar enough for our students that there is a larger expectation at the end of the season for when we come back next year.”

The long hours and work of the Peachtree Ridge Marching Band and PRMB Booster Association can be witnessed at Gwinnett County football games and competitions or at their new website,