Brick Township Memorial High School’s marching band has been a source of pride in the township for years. Known statewide as being one of the most competitive and best performing of its kind, outdoor practices start well before the school year to prepare for football season and a host of planned fall performances and competitions.
But some neighbors around the school have called police to register noise complaints about the band, saying the students practice too often, too loud and too late. Last year, officials told Shorebeat, an agreement was forged with neighbors to have the band practice at different locations on school grounds and face their instruments in varying directions so the sound would not always be distributed to the same place. But as the band began practicing this summer, complaints started rolling in again, culminating in an incident Tuesday when township police were called to ask the band to tone things down.
“We were told last night by the police that we were making too much noise and we couldn’t practice outside anymore,” said Joe Zurlo, a band parent. “How do you turn down a band? There’s no volume button.”
Band parents and others took to social media Wednesday to decry the noise complaints and the request from authorities. But by Wednesday evening, it appeared that cooler heads prevailed.
Officials told Shorebeat that because of a miscommunication, the band had not been abiding by last year’s agreement when they began practicing again this summer, and that is what prompted the noise complaints. Fortunately, some convincing from Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist and Superintendent Walter Uszenski – who met with residents on Alexander Avenue, near the high school, on Wednesday – put last year’s pact back into place, with the band also agreeing to end practices earlier.
“The affected neighbors fully appreciated the need and importance for the band to practice, and the staff at Brick Memorial High School expressed their respect for the quality of life of its neighbors,” a statement from the police department said.
The band will now rotate their practices between the school’s baseball field, football field and parking lot, Mayor John Ducey said, a happy medium that all parties seemed to agree with.
“That way, everyone gets a little peace and quiet, but most importantly, the kids still get to practice and prepare for their competitions,” Ducey said.