by Audrey Payne | copy editor
After six years of taking the field in uniforms of Columbia blue, the marching band is showing off a new look. And, the new look has a few surprises in store.
“The changes to the new uniform are designed to allow the students to move more like dancers and to move more…with a sense of flexibility and freedom,” band director Jarrett Lipman said. “The new ones also have some effects that are built into them, that when the band members turn and face a different direction, the uniforms look different.”
The original uniforms, similar to the new ones, were radical changes for their time, according to Lipman.
“The original uniform was basically to create something that was fresh and new at the time. They used a lot of the dyes and the fades,” Lipman said. “It was supposed to represent the bluebonnets for Lady Bird and something that was really connected to the community but was also still separating us as someone that was different.”
However, not everyone supported the design for the original uniforms.
“A lot of people thought they were funny-looking. Our superintendent actually said no at first. He thought it was too radical,” Lipman said. “As people got to see them in multiples and out on the field, they got very excited about how cool the colors were and the uniform’s now been copied a lot.”
This year, parts of the band show have been designed around the new features of the uniform.
“There’s a lot of dance in the show. We’re one of, really one of the the main schools in the marching band activity that does a lot of that, and it helps us a lot,” Lipman said. “It’s interesting, it looks different, and it also gives us some flexibility and believability in the show in terms of more character-driven stuff versus marching in straight lines and marching like a military-style band.”
Even the theme of the new show matches the new uniform’s design.
“The jacket colors are blended, creating a chameleon effect, which is beneficial because the show is called ‘Chameleon,’” junior Camie Sanchez said.
The traditional uniforms had a color palette of blues and whites, which are similar to the school colors, but the new uniforms have added green to the mix.
“I think that people will…be a little bit offended by the green because green is a Reagan color,” senior Samantha Morey said. “They’ll like the effect once they see it in the show.”
Lipman is not concerned with the uniform’s break away from traditional school colors.
“What we’re trying to break is the idea of what a traditional marching band has to be,” Lipman said. “People have asked questions, but I think everybody understands that we’re a little different, our group is a little bit different than the normal marching band and I think when we start talking about being different and trying to break boundaries, people go ‘cool.’”
The reason that the uniforms changed this year is because the band is going to Grand Nationals, a marching competition for high school bands across the U.S., next year.
“We will go to Grand Nationals next year, and we’ll wear the uniform there, and this is our year to train and to work things out,” Lipman said. “There’s obviously a lot to figure out with what it can do, get our community comfortable with making the move towards a more dance-based attire, and then come up with ideas that we didn’t know were possible when we design next year’s show.”
Sanchez believes that the traditional uniforms have become a symbol of the band program, but the new uniforms will create new benefits.
“I think they give us an advantage, competition-wise, because people are not expecting a change in uniform,” Sanchez said. “[We’re] definitely going to be less recognizable but I believe that the new uniforms will eventually become the new Johnson band symbol.”
Adding a new uniform presents new challenges for those in charge of taking care of the uniforms, because they now take care of both the traditional and the new uniforms. Sophomore Veronica Herrera is vice president of uniforms and takes care of both sets of uniforms.
“It’s double the work because you have the football game uniform and then you have the new uniform,” Herrera said. “We have to get [the new uniforms] altered…Unlike the other ones, we have to be more careful with these.”
Sanchez is also vice president of uniforms, and faces the challenges of two sets of uniforms as well.
“Since the new uniforms are more delicate, we have to be very cautious when handling them,” Sanchez said. “The material is very different from the old uniform.”
Despite these issues, Lipman believes the new uniforms will help the Johnson band stand out.
“I think people associate the band program with being state-of-the-art and being at the forefront, leading the activity, and I think that people will be very excited about it,” Lipman said. “The old uniform, when it came out, it broke boundaries, and this one does the same thing, so I think we’re going to be known more for taking risks than we are being traditionalists.”
Junior Caroline LaChance is optimistic about the overall impact that the new uniforms will have on the band program.
“The new uniforms are the reinvention of the band. It’s not the end of the old uniforms; it’s the beginning of a tradition of unpredictability,” LaChance said. “It shows how we’re stepping up as competitors and we’re not that small little band anymore.”