RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — It’s October, and that means marching bands are tuning up to compete. Bands started practicing in July to get ready for this time of year.

“BandTober” started for the Raymondville marching band Saturday with two pre-UIL competitions.

Benjamin Keltner, Head Band Director for Raymondville ISD, said that over the Summer, the program had to make accommodations to protect students from the dangerous heat.

“We do evening rehearsals outside, and we’re inside during the hot part of the day, we didn’t even come out here at all in the afternoons all summer, or the mornings, we just did evenings it causes us to have some late hours, obviously, as a staff,” Keltner said.

Marching bands compete in five or six different events throughout the year. Band members said they could easily put in forty hours a week to practice both individually and with their bandmates.

But it’s not just students who had to commit a lot of time to make sure the vand stayed sharp.

Leslie Luna is the President of the Bearkat Booster Club. She said, “Personally, for me, it’s 24/7. Because I love band I love the Raymondville Bearkat band, and I enjoy every minute I’m able to take, to spend and work with them.”

It took both time and money for the band to compete at their best. The booster club ran, and continues to run, multiple fundraisers to support the program. Individual band members took it upon themselves to also do personal fundraising.

Luna said, “We have some current students that cut grass, they’re doing babysitting, they’re also doing their own personal raffles. 

Keltner said that because Raymondville is a smaller district, a lot of the band members participated in different activities.

He said it was important to balance their academic and band responsibilities.

“We try to make sure that they’re doing their homework or going to their athletics practice and so, it’s a little bit different than 5-A and 6-A, because our students are doing a lot in relation to what the campus needs,“ Keltner said.

Keltner added the Raymondville and hadn’t made state in twenty-five years, but he hoped this would be the year they made it back.

Keltner has been the band director in Raymondville for the past four years. He said he recognized it was a years-long process for him and the students to reach their goal.

Keltner said he wants this band to have the best Bearkat sound ever.

Students were hoping to reach that crescendo starting with their upcoming competitions.

John Zuniga, Drum Major for the band said, “Our band hasn’t made state since 1998, so that would be a very big accomplishment in our school.”

Riley Rodriguez, Assistant Drum Major and bass drum player, added, “Next weekend we have Pigskin, and that is the start of us going to state.”