OH Marching Band’s Hard Work Continues to Pay Off

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OH Marching Band’s Hard Work Continues to Pay Off

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The Olympic Heights marching band has finished its season, and despite coming up short at the season’s final competition at the Park Vista Striking Cobra Invitational, 2018 was another outstanding year for the OH Mighty Lions Marching band.

The band worked tirelessly throughout the season and was rewarded with numerous awards at both the Treasure Coast Crown Jewel Marching Band Festival and the Hialeah Showcase of Champions, earning straight superior scores in the categories of  best music, best visual, best percussion, and best auxiliary.

“The students in marching band at OH understand what being on a team really means: making sacrifices!  Sacrificing what you want to do for the good of the team,” explains OH Director of Bands Ms. Jackie Parsons. “I am very proud of our students. I expect excellence always and they always come through.”

Parsons also points out a handicap the OH band has to overcome on route to its usual outstanding performances at competitions and shows, commenting, “I am especially proud of the fact that we are playing on 28-year-old instruments that are falling apart, and we still manage to outcompete bands that are better funded.”  

During the marching band season, the members have rigorous practices every week to perfect their routines. The band practices three hours every day for marching band and every Wednesday for concert band. There are also Saturday practices that sometimes last for eight hours. Drum major, C.J. Vyazmensky says, “We work for about 6 months. When school starts, we spend, at [the] minimum, 15 hours rehearsing. There [were] weeks that we spent as many as 30 hours practicing.”

Due to the number of hours spent together, a sense of family and connectedness is created among the band members. As a result of the connections being made, the performances are solidified and a sense of pride is brought to them. Percussion captain Austin Friedenburg expresses, “We put in so much work, and I think we deserve it. Performing out there and coming back to smiling faces and cheering crowds feels amazing.”

The creative process involved in creating each routine is a detailed process of reviewing other band’s routines, as well as their own, and paying attention to the way the music gets louder or quieter, or how each person steps. “Our drill designer sits down and listens to a recording of the show, studies the time period the piece was written in and looks at the structure of the phrasing, basically where the music gets loud… and where it’s soft,” explains band captain Andrew Neppl. “[Mr. Coleman] then individually places each band member in an exact location on the field, giving each person a unique set of coordinates they have to memorize in a unique order at a specific time. It’s a long physically and mentally demanding process.”

An often overlooked but very important factor in the many successes of the band is the Color Guard team that performs with the band, adding the visual aspect to a performance. The Color Guard practices both with the marching band and on its own, also putting in long hours after school and on weekends.

Guard captain Amber Don explains, “We are an addition to the band which means we add the physical color aspect and they add the musical aspect. We must practice together to see if our work goes with their music and style. But we also have to practice alone to drill what we have and get it clean and spotless.”

When the marching band season ends, the Winter Guard season begins wherein the Color Guard team performs in its own competitions. If past Winter Guard seasons are any indication, the OH team will be bringing home more awards this year.

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