This fall, Lenape High School’s marching band has taken its audience out of New Jersey and deep into the jungle in its 2014 routine, “It’s a Jungle Out There.”
On Oct. 25, the band left its jungle as state champions for the 10th time in 11 years.
Lenape won the USBands Group 2 Open New Jersey State Championship at Rutgers University.
The band won multiple awards at the event, including best music, best visuals, best overall effect and best color guard. It will compete in the national championship on Nov. 15 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford. The band’s performance went beyond just musical symphony. Band Director Steven Waldron described the routine as more of a production than a performance. It would include dancing, props, a storyline and multiple musical numbers.
The jungle theme was one of a few ideas Waldron had. He entered 2014 with the goal of creating a new and unique routine.
“I wanted to try and do something I’ve never seen done before,” he said.
Lenape’s performance immediately transports the audience into a jungle setting. The band members and color guard are all dressed in some sort of jungle motifs. Some members are dressed like cheetahs, monkeys, giraffes and zebras. The animals set up small stories over the course of the performance.
“We have some little vignettes along the way,” Waldron said.
The little stories told in the performances are comical and depict goofy scenes of what animals may do in the jungle when humans aren’t watching.
The music is varied in genre and style, but all of the tunes revolve around the jungle theme. There are familiar Disney songs such as “Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” and “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” These songs are mixed with tunes such as “Welcome to the Jungle” from Guns ‘N Roses.
The combination of music is different than what Lenape has done previously, but Waldron said the songs end up blending well together.
“When we put all of them together, it makes total sense,” he said. “The kids are also being exposed to so many styles and genres.”
Performing such an intensive routine required a huge time commitment from the students. The band’s schedule includes performances at the football team’s games, practices throughout the week, and band competitions on the weekends.
The competitions take place weekly at high schools across South Jersey.
Waldron credited the students for committing themselves to the program and for their perseverance throughout the fall.
“We don’t shy away from the time commitment during our meeting in June,” Waldron said. “We all come together for the football games and the practices and the competitions.”
This is the fourth consecutive year Lenape is heading to the national championship. The Indians won their group in 2011 and have finished second the past two years.
Waldron is happy with how far the band has gone and considers them winners regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 15 competition.
“I always tell my students winning is how you feel when you come off that field,” he said. “We’ve always been in the hunt and that’s a great sense of accomplishment.”