Name: Ayantae Cunningham
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Internship Organization: Westfield High School Color Guard Program
Job Title: Color Guard Technician
Location: Houston, TX
In my internship for Westfield High School, I worked as a technician for the color guard. The color guard is a team of performers that brings in students of all kinds in the school to participate in the fine arts in both the fall and spring by performing with the marching band at football games and field competitions in the fall, and indoor winter guard competitions in the spring. They bring the music to life through dance and equipment routines, including spinning sabers, rifles, tall flags and swing flags, in order to enhance and interpret the music visually. As a technician, I assisted the director, Tom Harrington, with running the program, technique training, and getting them ready for marching and competition season.
In the morning after getting settled we start with a morning stretch block for about thirty minutes to an hour. We do different stretch and conditioning exercises to ensure that the girls are pushing themselves while staying safe and getting a good stretch by using proper technique. The stretch block physically prepares the girls for training, strengthens their muscles, enhances their technique, and allows me, my fellow technician, Dani, and Tom to see what skills the girls already have and can achieve in the future.
In addition, I also conduct technique combos across the floor to teach the girls coordination and to keep proper technique while on the move. During these exercises, Dani and I include the importance of performance value and presentation when even doing simple exercises, so that it will feel more natural in front of an audience. Having a good performance face and presentation makes the skills they are performing look easy and keeps the audience, including the judges, engaged.
Right before the color guard heads outside for marching practice and to learn drill with the band, Tom goes over a mini version of the football field he drew on the board to help the girls read their drill sheets. Their drill sheets tell them exactly where on the field they need to be for every set and how many steps it should take to get to each set. The drill coordinates line up with the music and routines for the show making different shapes and movements appealing to the show.
After stretching, warming up, and intense conditioning, the color guard joins the band and the percussion students outside on the field to learn and run drill. The staff makes sure that there’s extra water and shade to put it in for the band. There’s also time to dance to Michael Jackson before getting to work.
In the middle of the day, the whole band gets together in the band hall, after working hard for hours in the sun, and eats lunch. The band, color guard, percussion, and staff members enjoy a meal and socialize with one another. Once lunch is over, Dani and I will get the girls together to play fun games before starting the flag and weapons block.
For the last block of the day me, Dani, or Tom, and sometimes all of us, teach, revise, and/or clean swing flag, tall flag, and weapon routines that will be in the show, along with teaching new skills to the team that they could work on and might later do in the marching show or the indoor show.
I really loved doing this internship and being a part of the color guard’s journey through band camp. I always wanted to come back and get experience teaching new students, which is why I wanted to do this internship. Being on the other side of the spectrum and taking on the role of a technician has shown just how much goes into running a successful competing program. The most rewarding thing about this internship was regaining artistic inspiration that I needed for the upcoming year as the president of my own dance group on campus, TwisT, and being with old and new members, and making deep connections with them.
Three adjectives that would describe my experience would be funny, energetic, and memorable. Three nouns that would describe my experience would be motivator, passion, and determination.
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