By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
They get the crowd going and their music can inspire an energy that gets the players to maybe try a little harder during Newton High School basketball games.
They are members of the pep band, who play during home and state basketball games.
Comprising the pep band are members of the NHS band, which has 75 students playing various instruments. However, band director Greg Bergman said students only are required to show up every other game, but some students attend every game.
Two students in pep band are seniors — Josh Kennell on clarinet and Eli Regier on alto sax.
“All band students have to play in pep band,” Regier said. “There’s a gold and a black pep band, so every other pep band you have to play. You can go to all of them if you want.”
Bergman said a lot of the pep band members are in other activities, so they’re good at getting subs when their turn comes up if they can’t make it.
“They don’t get paid,” Bergman added, saying pep band is like what comic books are to literature. “It’s fun.”
He said they don’t practice much in class for pep band performances.
“Pep band is usually 25 to 50 kids,” he said.
Pep band plays a certain selection of music.
“Most of them are classic rock arrangements—arrangements for band,” Regier said. “They’re not difficult—just for the audience.”
There are also other tunes they perform.
“A few pop songs, too,” Kennell added, saying one of the tunes they play is “Smoke on the Water.”
Another is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”
Kennell and Regier have been in band all their four years of high school. What also involves the number four is the number of hours they’re at basketball games in one night.
Kennell has been playing clarinet for several years.
“This is my eighth year,” he said. “They had a visit day where the band teacher comes to the elementary schools and tries to recruit kids.”
That day, when Kennell was one of those elementary students, kids tried out the instruments.
“I liked the sound of the clarinet,” Kennell said, adding he’s in his sixth year of private lessons.
Kennell plans to attend college either at Bethel College in North Newton or Goshen College, where he wants to play in band or orchestra. He wants to major in biology and possibly become a doctor.
Regier said both he and Kennell started playing their chosen instruments in the fifth grade. Regier was inspired to play alto sax because there was a family friend who played alto sax at Bethel College.
“I looked up to him and played alto sax,” Regier said, adding he’s taken private lessons since the fifth grade. “I’m most likely going to Bethel for music education.”
He wants to play in the jazz band there.
“Jazz is my passion,” Regier said, adding it’s his favorite kind of music.
Kennell likes jazz and other kinds.
“I like all music,” he said. “I don’t think I could choose a type.”
In addition to band, both Kennell and Regier are in choir and show choir. With the school’s show choir, Railaires, they’re going to Disney World with the group during spring break. They’ll leave March 13 and return March 19, performing a local concert on March 10. Bergman said there is a band concert at 7:30 p.m. March 2 and a jazz concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24.