Welcome “Rookie” Members & Band Parents

First of all, congratulations on becoming a member of the Mary Persons Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade whether as a performer or as a parent.  Band is a truly life-changing activity that I hope will be as good for you as it has been for me and all the graduates in the past.  Many times, parents say that they don’t understand what is happening around them.  In turn, they found it hard to give 100% support to the band and their children.  After all, the band was asking a lot of their family, especially the two things that seem scarcest in today’s world: time and money.

The Mary Persons band is the fastest growing and one of the most recognizable organization on campus.  We pride ourselves on the rich tradition of excellence that we enjoy.  However, as with any successful organization, we work hard and follow set rules and guidelines.  As a parent, your child looks to you for both answers and encouragement. I hope that this guide as well as the band manual, that will be issued at band camp, will help you feel more comfortable and  help familiarize you with the “inner workings” of our band.

What’s so great about the Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade?

Ask 100 parents this question, and you’re likely to get 100 different answers!  Every child benefits differently from membership.  For some, the greatest benefit is the increase in their child’s self-confidence.  For others, it’s the friendship network that it has helped build.  Or, it could be giving their child a sense of pride and accomplishment after working hard and giving a great performance in front of an excited crowd.

Being a member of the Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade will give your children a valuable educational and social experience.  They will work hard and experience many triumphs, as well as some hardships and disappointments – things that will prepare them for the “real world” and life after high school.

For parents, marching band lets you be a part of your child’s life at a time when you are feeling less and less welcome in it.  Sharing the marching band experience with your child will give you memories that are precious.  Through marching band, you’ll see your child grow from a cheeky adolescent to a young adult…and you’ll be extremely proud of their involvement and achievements in the program.

For whatever the reasons for being a member, one thing is certain – marching band opens a door your children will not find anywhere else, and what they experience here will be remembered fondly throughout their lives.




Get to know the Mary Persons Band

Trying to learn all the aspects of the band can be a little overwhelming at first.  Here is an organizational chart to help you see how all the parts fit together:

Band Organization ChartPrincipal – The Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade and band booster program exist with the approval and support of our principal, Jim Finch
Band Directors – Eric Thompson is our director and “head coach”.  Melissa Pettinger and Stephen Braswell are like our “assistant coaches” These directors are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the band program, including hiring and supervising extra staff & consultants, managing band boosters, and educating our children!
Band Staff/Consultants – We are fortunate to have an auxiliary coordinator, Vicky Sykes. Think of Mrs. Sykes as the “Assistant Director of Auxiliaries” We are also blessed to have a color guard instructor, Laura Nelson and Dance Instructor Emily Boyt. Think of them as his “Assistant Coaches.”
You will  also regularly see college students and other adults rehearsing the band.  These are extra staff hired by the director to improve the band.
Band Captain and Drum Major – Our band captain is Malcolm Curtis and drum major is Kyle Sullivan. Once “rookies” just like your kids, they are now upper-classmen and conduct the band during marching season.  Although they are junior directors, they are still students and do not make decisions for the program as an extension of directors.

Student Leaders – The band has 5 components:  Brass, Woodwinds, Colorguard, Dancers, and Drumline.  Each of these components has student leaders, who help rehearse small groups of students.  There is also a secretary, librarian, property officer, uniform officer. These experienced students were selected by the director and trained for their positions.


CONGRATULATIONS!  You are a band booster and member of the Monroe Band Booster Association!   As a Band Booster, we ask that you give time & help.  The band needs you.  Your kids need you!

Officers direct the operation of the Band Boosters under the guidance of the band director.  They coordinate the projects, fundraising, construction of equipment, care & feeding of band members, chaparones, and special events with the help of teams and team members.    Rookie parents need to become familiar with the operations of the Band Boosters.  As your child grows through their experience and involvement during their years of band, we need parents to do the same!

The essence of the Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade-  We Practice Together, We Succeed Together
The Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade is a group activity, and teamwork is the essence of what makes it a great program.  The success of individual efforts are judged by group performance.  It is important for parents to understand that, while your child is very important, the directors and staff must also consider the best interests of a program with 75-85 other students.   That is why the first topic we’ll discuss is the time commitment.

What is the Time Commitment?

Without a doubt, marching band is a big time commitment.  Marching band requires 100% participation at summer band camps, rehearsals three times a week after school, Friday night football games, and three Saturday competitions.  This season’s Calendar of Events can be found on website under the calendar tab.

Time Management is a key to success in marching band and in life.  This may be the most important skill your child acquires as a member of the Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade.  Some parents even sharpen their skills, too!  New students learn quickly that they must use every minute of their day wisely.  Your student will learn how to keep a schedule, how to be punctual, and how to set priorities.  Be patient…it may take a few weeks for “rookies” to get the hang of it.

Does My Student Really Have to Be There All the Time?

Yes!  All camps, rehearsals, and performances are mandatory!   If your child is absent or unable to play/march/perform their part, it will have a negative impact on the efforts of ALL the other students.  To put the best musical product on the field, the director and staff need all members present and prepared each and every time.  During the latter part of the season, your child will have at least 2 days without marching band.  Arrange doctor’s visits, family trips, etc., on days that your child does not have marching band rehearsals or performances.   Conflicts must be discussed with the Director in advance and an Absence Request Form must be completed.

Even if the director is aware of the conflict it could still affect your child’s role in marching band.  The attendance policy is explained further in the Band Manual that will be passed out a band camp.

Won’t All This Time Spent in Marching Band Affect My Child’s Grades?

Maybe, but not always in the way you might think. You will often see students in the band room reading and doing homework in-between rehearsals.  Granted, students who struggle with time management may have a harder time balancing band and academics, but many “Rookie” members can find informal tutors amongst older band students to help them with tough subjects.  Mary Persons High School also has teachers who provide after school tutoring. Please let us know if your child needs help so we can help with making the arrangements. The students are always monitored by a teacher for this program.

Educational research has shown (and parents agree) that the discipline and focus developed in marching band carries over into the classroom.  Not surprisingly, many Mary Persons Band students are honor roll, Beta Club, and/or college bound and receive many academic accolades and college scholarships in addition to their musical accomplishments.

The band…on a budget

Marching band is an extra-curricular activity which receives funding from the school system (this is usually a surprise to Rookie parents), but not enough to make the dreams of our students come true..  That is why the cost of funding this worthwhile activity is shared equally by all the participants and is referred to as a student’s “band dues”

Paying your student’s “band dues” is part of the commitment of being in marching band.   The “band dues” fund everything from purchasing music for the season, caring for uniforms, paying staff/consultants, equipment and large instrument maintenance, etc.

“Band Dues” payments can be made in installments during marching band season (deadlines for these installments are on the marching band calendar).
If your child quits marching band or is removed by the director for disciplinary reasons, “band dues are still owed and no refunds are issued.

In addition to band dues, there will be a show shirt fee of $15,  This may seem like a lot of money, which it is.  But, in comparison to other area band programs, we charge the least amount of fees of anyone by far.  Some programs charge several hundred dollars just for a band camp fee in addition to other fees ranging up to $1,500.

We keep our fees low by being blessed with successful fundraisers

A note about “FUN”draising

We put the FUN in FUNdraising!

You and your student will have several opportunities to fundraise to help the band. While fundraisers are designed to support the band’s general operating fund, fundraisers are specifically designated to help offset the cost of the “Band Dues.”  Some families pay for all or nearly all of their “Band Dues” because of successful, committed fundraising.   Fundraisers are also a time to work together with your fellow band members and band parents and are a great way to make new friends.

Some fundraisers can earn students a credit that is applied to other band-related costs, such as trips!

When turning in money of any kind, there are deposit envelopes and a locked collection “Dropbox” in the MPHS Band Room.  Students need to place money in a deposit envelope located outside Mr. Thompson’s office and complete the front of the envelope so it can be tracked correctly.  It is NOT recommended that students place cash in the drop box, but it will be locked and only accessible by the treasurer and booster president. NEVER TURN MONEY INTO THE DIRECTORS OR STAFF. The directors and staff are in charge of running the band program not collecting monies.  

Outfitting the Band

Donning the new uniforms of the Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade for the first time under the lights of the football stadium in front of a cheering home crowd may be a moment your child never forgets!  But, for the first few weeks of the football season, your child will need to wear the “summer uniform” which consists of the band T-shirt & khaki shorts. Band members must purchase one band-issued T-shirt designed with the theme of the year’s marching show. This is covered with the shirt fee of $15.00.  Members can order extras for themselves and family members for an additional cost of $15 per shirt.  The band will also have a Thursday Practice Uniform consisting of Khaki Shorts and a plain white t-shirt. This allows for clearer analyzation  of our Thursday practices, which is essential for the band to do well at competitions.

The band will provide your student with a marching uniform which they will wear starting in Mid-September. For Brass, Woodwind, Drumline, & Frontline members, the band-issued uniform consists of pants that are secured by shoulder straps (referred to as “bibbers”), an overjacket, and a hat (called a “cavalier hat”). Colorguard and majorettes uniforms change each season to fit the theme of the marching show.

All band members are fitted for their uniform early in the season. The uniforms are distributed before and collected immediately after every performance.  Only in rare circumstances will the uniform be in the care of a student overnight and a check must be written for the full amount of the uniform.

The band-issued uniform is only part of properly dressing a member. Some parts of the uniform must be provided by the student/parents. These items are purchased separately, but since they must still be “uniform” some are available to be purchased through the band.

These items are:

  • Marching Shoes (see Director for details)
  • Black Socks (not through the band — recommended to buy several pairs…dryers eat them)
  • Warm-up jacket, make-up, hair accessories, and specific undergarments (for Guard and Majorettes only)

Some optional items that students can purchase are:

  • Letter Jackets (yes…students earn varsity letters for marching band!)
  • SpiritWear (see below)


Show your Mary Persons Band Pride and Support by purchasing a t-shirt or band polo style shirt.  Wear them at each band function.  T-shirts are $15 while the Band Polos will be between $25 and $30 according to which style is chosen for each season.  To purchase, simply fill out the t-shirt order form your child brings home during band camp.

Parent Involvement = a Successful Band Program

When you have a student in the band…Congratulations! You’re now a Band Booster and WE WANT YOU!

The Monroe County Band Boosters Association is a tax-exempt non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the band program. The band needs many things that cannot be done by one band director! He needs supportive, dedicated parents to help him keep the proud tradition of success represented by the trophies that surround the band room.

As a Band Booster, we ask that you give time & help. The band needs you. Your kids need you!

10 Easy Ways For a “Rookie” Parent to Help the Band Program

  1. Give your child support & encouragement for being in band! Tell him/her how proud you are of what they are learning and how they are changing as part of the band!
  2. When picking up your kids from band, leave your car and get to know the other parents! Better yet, come early to watch the kids’ progress and socialize with other band parents. The last 15 minutes of practice are open for parents to view our progress. Building relationships with other adults in the program will benefit both you and your child!
  3. Come to the Band Booster Meetings! Booster Meetings will be scheduled as seen needed by the directors and booster officers. You’ll always walk away with information your kids forgot to tell you.
  4. Pay your Fees on time. We know it’s not easy, but it is important to the existence of the band program.
  5. Join the “Care Crew” and help with the Care & Feeding of students. During band camp, parents are needed to help serve dinner. And, kids LOVE baked goods and snacks anytime!
  6. Help build stuff.  Every year, something besides musical instruments needs repaired or built.  This can be anything from repairing the drum major podium to rewiring the band’s equipment trailer.  If you need inspiration for projects, ask Mr. Thompson.
  7. Attend football games and competitions to cheer for them! The band ALWAYS performs better with a large cheering block behind them.
  8. Volunteer to help. After all, you’re coming to the game/competition anyway!
  9. Join our Field Crew for performances. Not everything is heavy, and much of it is on wheels.  Not able to attend? Lend a hand at the school when you drop-off & pick-up your child.
  10. Help with FUNdraisers! The more hands, the easier the work!

You Are More Talented Than You Realize!  Please share your talents with us!  The Monroe County Band Booster Association  has a constitution, bylaws, officers, and regular meetings.   What to expect…..


At Band Camp

The concentrated time spent during the summer Band Camps are vital to the success of the season.  Band Camps are when students to learn the majority of their marching routines, show music, pep band tunes, and the Mary Persons High School songs.

Marching band is not an indoor activity. Students must be prepared to be outside during high temps.  Wear light-colored loose clothing, bring extra water (water is provided, but some students want their own), use sunscreen and insect repellent. Only tennis shoes are allowed…no flip-flops!!  They will also need their instruments and all the supplies (reeds, oils, etc.) needed to keep them working!

Rookie members sometimes question their desire to join the marching band after the first day in the heat.  Encourage them to stick with it for a few more days. Students often change their mind once they get accustomed to the program, adapt to the heat, start making friends, and begin feeling more confident.  This year, camp will break @ 11:00AM.  We will have a an hour long break if you would like to send lunch. Please make sure to send food appropriate for the weather. No student will be allowed to leave during this time.
At the end of the summer band camps, Black and Gold Bulldog Brigade hosts a “Family Preview Night” performance to showcase their accomplishments! This is held at the practice field and is open to all your family & friends!  Following the performance, we have a good old-fashioned tail-gate where we will have  music and games. This is a GREAT opportunity to get to meet other parents and students that your children have been talking about.

At Rehearsals

Rehearsals are not very different from band camp, but they are shorter. Weekly rehearsals are listed on the band calendar.   Your child will be unable to go home before practice, so they should bring rehearsal clothes and supplies to school (don’t forget the tennis shoes!). Please note that when practice ends at 6:00PM that practice will end at 6:00PM. This does not mean they will be walking out of the door at this time. Due to the nature of the amount of equipment we use it takes a few minutes to put things up. Some days we may extend practice later in order to finish the desired goals for the day. We will make sure you are notified!

At Football Games

Students will report to the band room prior to the start of the game by a designated call time. It is very important to not be late as attendance will be taken at call time.  During this time, students will change into their uniform and warm-up with their section. There will also be a uniform inspection.  The band will march into the stadium before the game to a Drumline cadence. During the game, they sit in a designated section of the home stands. Parents and friends are not allowed to sit within the band, but are welcome to sit in the Band Booster section nearby.

The band plays their field show as halftime entertainment. The visiting school band also performs.  After half-time, the students who have been awarded a third quarter break will take off third quarter, but must be back in their stands by the end of the 3rd quarter.  If a student is late returning, they lose the 3rd quarter privilege for the next game.  After the game, the band will march back to the band room, turn-in their uniforms, get final announcements, and be dismissed AS A GROUP.  Students are not allowed to leave from football games until formal dismissal, unless other arrangements have been approved in writing by the director PRIOR to the game.

For away games, student meet at the school to board buses, and return on the bus once the game is over.

At Competitions

Marching band competitions are like track meets or softball tournaments where many different schools compete/perform.  For the band, competitions are their “game days.”  Band competitions are hosted by another school’s band program and take place in their football stadium. (The host band does not compete). Bands that perform are critiqued and ranked in different areas of marching band performance by qualified judges.

Please come to as many competitions as possible!  The band needs your support as a cheering section in the stands!  We also need help chaperoning, dressing them, and moving equipment.  Competitions are a fundraiser for the host school, so there is a small admission fee charged to attendees (not to marching band members).  There are also concessions and other band-related merchandise available.

Competitions are always on Saturdays, but our band performs at different times each week.  Once our performance time is set by the host school (often only a week before the competition) our director sets the competition day schedule for our band program.

On competition days — Students will report to Mary Persons High School for rehearsal and equipment loading.  They will be transported by bus to the competition.  Students are expected to remain with the band throughout the entire competition, unless their extenuating circumstances and other arrangements have been approved in writing by the director PRIOR to the competition. These arrangements must be approved by the administration of MPHS.

At the competition — Band members change into their uniform and a have final warm-up.  The band marches into the performance stadium, plays their show, and marches out.  After the performance, uniforms, instruments, and equipment have been packed up, students return to the host stadium to watch the remainder of the bands performing.

Band members should have money to purchase lunch/dinner during competition days, which can last as long as 12-14 hours.  Again, sunscreen and insect repellent are good items to have on hand.  Also, students should be prepared for different weather conditions.  It is often hot during the mid-day sun and occasionally rainy. Be sure to pack a jacket for the cooler weather after the sun goes down!

At the end of the competition, an awards ceremony is held.  Once awards are given, students return to their buses and travel back to Mary Persons High School.  Back at the band room, students are formally dismissed as a group once everything is unloaded.  Students are to be picked up within 20 minutes of final dismissal.

Rain or severe weather does NOT cancel band rehearsals or performances.  Students should be prepared to perform in inclement weather.


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