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Lehigh Lightning Band to hold concert in May

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Apr 14, 2021

news@breezenewspapers.com

With CDC guidelines changing, the Lehigh Lightning Band has been granted permission to have a performance next month inside the Lehigh Senior High School auditorium for a 90-minute concert.

The performance will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 7. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased through Go Fan, which will be setup soon.

“We cannot sell tickets at the door, but people will be able to scan a barcode for Go Fan and pay online at the door,” Band Director Jay Parales said.

The performance will include the concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, woodwind, brass and percussion ensemble, color guard and string orchestra.

Parales said since COVID-19 everything has come to a halt for the Lehigh Lightning Band — everything his students love has been cancelled.

“Unlike sports, we have not been allowed to perform. When we rehearse inside, or out, we must stay 6 feet apart. We are only allowed to play for 30 minutes at a time, then we have to wait 30 minutes before we can play again,” he said, which is based on CDC guidelines for bands. “We must have covers on all the bells of our instruments to stop the water particles from coming out of our instruments, this makes it very hard to play in tune, and we must wear specially designed mask that cover our mouths, but still allows the students to play their instruments.”

Fortunately, Parales said the school district has been very supportive in purchasing  the masks and covers for the bands, middle and high.

An outside concert was held in December in the school courtyard, which was done through Zoom and recorded because an audience was not allowed.

“We Zoomed the performance and recorded it so parents could watch. During football season, I was only allowed to have 50 students performing, we had to sit 6 feet apart and sit in the end zones,” Parales said.

Parales has been the band director for the Lehigh Lightning Band since the school opened in 1994. He teaches the band and orchestra at Lehigh Senior High School. Currently there are 76 members of the band ranging from ninth to 12th grade students who play the flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto, baritone and tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba and percussion.

There is also a color guard in the band where students spin flags and rifle, choreographed to the music the band is playing.

“The color guard has two seasons to their year. One with the marching band and one indoor,” he said. “They learn a routine to music and perform in the gym.”

The band members perform for audiences all over central and south Florida and participate in the Florida Bandmasters Association District Music Performance Assessment. Parales said if and when they receive a “superior” rating, they qualify for state evaluation.

Parales said they are currently getting information out to the middle school band members to share information about opportunities within the high school band.

“If they join the high school band, they will make 76 instant friends who have the same interest and love for music,” he said. “They will get to perform at all the football games, parades and context.”

Parales said Lehigh Senior hosts the largest marching band competition in Southwest Florida, which is called the Lightning Tournament of Bands.

“It was cancelled this year because of COVID, but it has been approved for Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Bands from all over Florida come here to compete and try to qualify for the Florida Marching Band Coalition State Marching Band Championship held in Daytona Beach in November,” he said.

Band members are already playing for next year, with drum major and section leader auditions taking place over the next two weeks. On April 23 and April 24, they will have color guard and drumline auditions, as well as marching band camp for the incoming freshmen.

“We are confident, hopeful, that next year will be more back to normal for the band and our students. They need this. They miss being with the band friends and practicing and performing together,” he said.

The band holds fundraisers throughout the year so students can raise money needed to pay for their band fees, which includes uniform dry cleaning, band shirt, marching shoes and gloves. The Band Parents Association raises money to help pay for such things as transportation, marching band instructors that help Parales, music and show design.

“Right now we are selling cookie dough. Any wishing to help support us can contact me at Jaydp@leeschools.net,” Parales said.