Marching band seniors continue musical pursuits post final marching band season

Ava Yungbluth | The Chronicle

Mason’s marching band seniors are “marching to the beat of their own drums” as they decide where to take their musical talents after high school.

(From left to right) Daniel Vennemeyer, Alex Vennemeyer, Scott Vennemeyer, Jim Vennemeyer and John Vennemeyer play in “Santa’s Goody Bags” to raise money for charity during holidays

Starting sixth grade, every student at Mason is offered the opportunity to pursue an instrument. Those pursuing band have the opportunity to further their musical journeys through marching band, where they will dedicate hours of their time to daily practices and regular perfomances. Practice, however, isn’t all these seniors pursue.

Jason Sleppy, Mason’s marching band director, has not limited himself to just teaching his students how to march and play. He has taught them many valuable lessons about time management, determination, and dedication along his students’ journeys.

“If you dedicate a lot of time and energy to something, you can be successful at it, “Sleppy said. “We’re trying to build great people that can take the skills [they learn in marching band] and apply them to anything.”

Being in marching band for long hours also opens a gateway to building new friendships that last for years to come. Senior trumpet player Daniel Vennemeyer said “Band is like a family,” and mentioned that this program has allowed him to “form meaningful relationships” that have lasted throughout high school.

Although Vennemeyer might not be continuing his marching band pursuits now, he won’t be stopped from using his talents to spread joy and have a good time. He is in “Santa’s Goody Bag Band”, a charity band that travels around, plays, and collects money for a variety of children’s charities. Vennemeyer sees this band as a way to combine two things he loves; helping others and playing his instrument.

“It’s for cancer-free kids and [organizations] like that to help make sure that kids can pay for their medical expenses,” Vennemeyer said. “I’ll continue to do that and hopefully use my playing ability for something good in the world.”

Like Vennemeyer, trombone player Jacob Kraimer aspires to pursue music post-marching band. With the capability to major in music at college, Kraimer has thought about continuing music by trying out for his college’s wind ensembles and by taking up other musical opportunities, such as the Allstate orchestra.

This orchestra provides exceptional instrument players throughout the state with the opportunity to play and perform within a few days.

“[My experience with marching band was] a time like no other,” Kraimer said, “[I want to] continue music and join a college wind ensemble.”

Flute player Minkyoung Choi is grateful for music as it greatly supported her when she first immigrated to the United States and spoke little English. She claims that music allowed her to “show [herself] without the need to talk to people.” Seeing herself improve in both speaking English and playing the flute has made Choi recognize that helping others get better at playing the flute is one of her greatest passions.

“My mom asked me to teach my sister and I could see that she’s getting better,” Choi said. “I enjoy seeing people improve and ask me for help with what they’re playing.”

Choi appreciates being able to work hard on the same goals as her friends while making unforgettable memories. She wants to carry those memories with her as she pursues playing the flute after high school and teaching others how to play as well.

“After high school, I will keep playing instruments and I want to be involved in music programs so I never stop [exploring music],“ Choi said. “I’m planning on getting into a music major. I want to pursue music so I can teach while still being able to play at the same time.”

Sleppy is very proud of all the seniors and is grateful for the opportunity to watch them go from learning how to play notes to becoming leaders and mentors to other students. He admires how much work they’ve put into becoming the players and human beings that they are.

“It’s really a lot of their personal dedication that leads to the success,” Sleppy said. “[I’m] very proud of where they got to and proud of them as people as they go forward.”

Photo contributed by Daniel Vennemeyer