They have their music by April and are practicing together by the middle of May. Now, over 250 members of the Lincoln High School marching band are spending weeks of their summer making sure their marching skills are up to par.
"We're basically throwing them into the deep end of the pool as soon as we start learning the drill, and we're just asking their bodies to do a lot of different things all at once and try to look good doing it," director Dan Carlson said.
The start of this season is a time for upper-classmen to reflect on how their lives changed by making the decision to join a group that becomes their family.
"I wanted to do something different, do something more than just go to high school and just take classes and go back home and that's my day. I wanted to do something more," senior Paco Besestre said.
"Going into freshman year, you have 250 friends right away and it's not so intimidating going into high school when you've already been doing this for two weeks and you've met a bunch of people," senior Sam Ostman said.
The best marching bands don't just focus on the sound. How they look from the stands requires a lot of work.
"You have to be very physical. You have to know the drill, you have to know the music, you have to be keeping in time. There's so much to think about," Ostman said.
It's not just the rehearsals during the summer that makes this band run; it's the parent support that makes this band a well-oiled machine.
"We have a very strong band parent organization at Lincoln and they make everything happen for us. We would be nothing without them," Carlson said.
That help allows each student to realize the moment that makes marching band special.
"Walking out onto this field, seeing all the lights and all the people there supporting us in the stands, it was crazy. It was so overwhelming because it made me realize how important this program is to so many people," Ostman said.
"When she came up to me and said 'Wow' and that will forever be with me because just having that from my mom knowing she was proud of me," Besestre said.
The Lincoln High School marching band is studying over 120 pages of drill the next two weeks in preparation for this season, which will include five competitive performances all over the Midwest.