The Columbus East Olympian Spirit marching band is combining color with sound to create a scene that takes spectators through the transformation from night to day.
For the past week, Columbus East High School’s 74-member marching band has worked from sunup to sundown to master its upcoming show set for the 2017 season.
“This week, we charted out points for the show and added music to it as well,” senior drum major Tiffany Collins said.
Throughout the past five days, members of the marching band spent 45 hours both indoors and outdoors, learning the fundamentals of marching, plotting points on the field and practicing new music.
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Throughout the month of June, band members worked with their specific instrumental groups to become acquainted with the new music. The annual band camp week, which ran from Monday to Friday, brings the entire group together and combines music with the moves.
With familiar songs such as “Sky Full of Stars” from British rock band Coldplay, Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” and “Another Day of Sun” from the Oscar-winning musical film “La La Land,” band director David Rodgers expects the show to resonate with spectators.
“You can envision the changeover from night to day through color and the music,” Rodgers said. “What the show entails is a sequence of stars and the moon coming out at night, then the sun.”
Battling the heat
Rodgers said the band’s week-long band camp is crucial to its success in the upcoming season.
Throughout the past few years, Rodgers has stood atop the director’s tower, perfecting the students’ sound and movement.
Rodgers said band camp contributes to the development of teamwork and provides a time for more repetition than is otherwise available once school starts.
But despite the success of band camp, late-July heat poses as an enemy every year.
In contrast to 90-degree temperatures the week before, Rodgers called weather conditions during this year’s camp a blessing with highs only reaching the low- to mid-80s.
“When we first started off in the mornings, it was hot and sunny and we had a few people say they were feeling dizzy,” Rodgers said. “You’ve got to drink and remain hydrated. Water is your best friend.”
Senior and color guard member Anissa Edwards joined the Olympian Spirit color guard last year. After seeing how brutal the week was from a heat standpoint, she decided to take an extra step this year.
“I brought a huge cooler filled with ice and brought snacks and drinks for everyone,” Edwards said.
A younger crowd
After graduating more than 20 seniors from last year’s band group, 25 freshmen have stepped in to take their places.
Rodgers said it’s been difficult to gauge how the overall group feels about this year’s show.
“We’re a very young group,” Rodgers said. “A lot of these kids out here have one year of experience or less.”
One of those fresh faces is Jakob Brown.
Brown, an incoming freshman, has been involved with music as long as he can remember, learning how to play a variety of instruments.
His first experience with band camp, Brown found the nine-hour days challenging. Nevertheless, he said he’s looking forward to taking the music to the field this year.
“I just have to get the hang of it,” he said.
Starting a season with a younger group requires more work and time to get everyone to the same level, Rodgers said.
“It’s going to have to be a slower process,” he said. “The young kids who have come in are doing a great job as far as us asking them to do something and them being able to carry that over.”
The best part about this year’s group, Rodgers said, is the work ethic and attitudes of students. Those two skills combined will turn the season into a successful one, he said.
One final round
This year’s Olympian Spirit has 16 seniors, including drum major Collins.
“I’m essentially the visual metronome,” Collins said. “I tie things together and make them run more smoothly.”
Throughout the week, Collins stood on the director’s tower, directing the band’s every sound.
“Everyone has been very cooperative, easy-going and ready to work,” Collins said.
“That’s making things run very smoothly, and I think we’ll have a very tight, smooth-running show.”
Senior Brendan Boewe has a special role in this year’s show. For the past four years, including his eighth-grade year, Boewe has played a variety of instruments, including the baritone and the trombone in the marching band.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Boewe said. “I’ve been playing the violin since I was 4½ years old.”
Olympian Spirit will first take to the football field Aug. 25 during halftime at the initial home varsity football game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Columbus East High School, 230 S. Marr Road.
The marching band earned a gold status — the highest level — in the 2016 ISSMA Scholastic Marching Band finals, and ended its 2016 season with a 16th place finish out of 21 bands at the Mid State Band Association 3A Championships in Ohio.
Sept. 9: Sound of North Mid-States Invitational
Sept. 16: Lawrence Central High School Invitational
Sept. 23: Greenwood High School Invitational
Sept. 30: Ben Davis High School Invitational
Oct. 7: Indiana State School Music Asspociation Scholastic Preliminaries
Oct. 21: Indiana State School Music Asspociation Scholastic Class Finals