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The expanding marching band - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

The expanding marching band

OCHS band's sound fills out with 400 more musicians

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Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010 12:00 am

After gaining 40 freshman musicians, things were a little different for the Ocean City High School Marching Band this season.

“You never know who’s going to surprise you,” said Donna Schwartz, the band director. “The first game was quiet.... By the second game they had a totally different attitude. They were playing better, cheering for the football players... because we had a lot of younger players, they don’t know what you’re talking about until they go through it.”

The marching band grew from 70 members in 2009 to 110 this fall, more than doubling the size of several sections.

Despite the initial adjustments, the motivated newcomers enhanced the band’s sound and allowed them to play more challenging music.

“It actually really helped a lot filling sections that lagged,” said Rosie Williams, a sophomore trumpet player. “Last year we had three clarinets, this year we have like 10.”

The clarinets were the marching band’s biggest section this year, said Williams. Trumpet and percussion sections were also enhanced.

“They’ve hit a reset button on the percussion section,” said Dean Howey, a drummer and junior sergeant at arms for the band.

The band benefited from the bigger sound, but the challenge of marching band is adjusting to the choreography while being able to keep the time and tempo of the music by looking at the conductor.

It required starting from the ground up, said Dale Roeck, a sophomore alternate drum major and trumpet player. Senior marchers stepped up to lead the freshmen through routines and keep them focused.

“They were so enthusiastic this year. Last year people started to lose interest by the end of the year; this year it just built up,” said Gordan Kubaska, a senior drum major. “One thing we really like doing is chants. Anything to get the band going.”

The lighthearted approach helped motivate the underclassmen, said Kubaska. Seniors never criticized lower classmen, but kept students focused, and managed to conquer more challenging pieces and progress faster than in past years.

The band tackled selections from “Wicked,” the Battle Hymn Chorale, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and a Billy Joel medley, recognizable pieces that helped motivate the band and hear when their sound was off, said Shannon Farrell, a freshman clarinetist.

“We made it our own, but it still has that original feel,” said Howey.

Hopefully, students will be able to retain their strong sound through the end of the fall football season for their trip to Walt Disney World in March, when students will spend five days learning selections from Disney’s orchestra and performing with the Magic Kingdom’s light show.

“I’ve been there five times,” said Rob Gray, a senior trumpet player. “It’s a whole lot more fun since you go with friends, especially having been without the band since the season ended.”

While marching band takes its musicianship seriously, the camaraderie and ability to make friends with different grade levels is one of the biggest benefits of joining, said Gray.

“It’s about having fun and becoming a good person,” added Howey.

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