SARASOTA - Since Chuck Alfrey took over the Sarasota High Marching Band in 2014, the Marching Sailors annually earned high marks in their marching assessments.

He no longer directs the marching band, but drum major Joshua Kroepfl tells me he's not gone.

"He still teaches orchestra and jazz band and guitar here, so we see him all the time here. He's still part of our family," Kroepfl says.

But Alfrey himself knows transitioning to a new marching band director can mean trouble. He told clarinet section leader Lucie Bussiere about times he took over for another director.

"I've heard horror stories. Students weren't able to adjust well; they didn't conform with his teaching methods," Bussiere says.

Alfrey, however, knew Chris Lieper, someone who recently finished college and Drum Corps International. So he took over, and both he and Alfrey worked on the halftime show, with Alfrey working more with the guard and drill writer.

"So I can definitely tell all the techniques and styles of drills that he likes to use," says tuba section leader Grace Faberlle, "such as big curves, follow the leaders, circles, things that can show off our ability." Whereas Lieper, she says, is big on the musicality and encourages them to be loud and more aggressive."

Their show this year is more abstract. The band visualizes all three of Newton's laws.

"It's just a very conceptual show," Bussiere says.

Both Joshua and Lucie told me it's their most complex show they've done. And for Joshua, it's his third and final show in which he has drum major duties.

Time will tell how the band will do under Lieper. But by the sounds of the students, they're just as excited now as the previous three years.

"Absolutely join," says Kroepfl.

"Even if you've, you know, haven't picked up a flag or an instrument, it's honestly one of the best things you can do," Bussiere says.

"Our band keeps improving every single year and we work much harder than most people would expect. The sense of family that I have with everybody is beyond anything that I could ever imagine. It's a great band. I love it," says Faberlle.