Miamisburg Marching Band’s camp sets tone

‘We’ve created a culture, and the students want to be a part of it.’

At first glance, it might appear like herding cats. Instructing a large marching band — 200 students to be exact — is a collaborative effort and a labor of love. The Miamisburg High School (MHS) Marching Band and Color Guard has completed a week of intense band camp during which they learned the music, choreography and marching necessary to compete this year.

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Under theeyes of band director Steve Aylward and his large staff, 200 students showed up at MHS at 8:30 a.m. Monday ready to go. Complete with gallon water jugs, comfortable shoes and sunscreen, these students were anxious to learn how to perform “Lost Vegas,” the name of this year’s performance. The band will probably compete in up to 10 competitions this fall.

“I surround myself with great people,” said Aylward. “We break up into sections — woodwinds, percussion, brass, color guard — and start learning.”

Kristen Adams, a senior and flute player, and Taylor McGuire, a junior who plays clarinet, are drum majors this upcoming season. “We conduct the band, but we watch the percussion section for the beat,” said McGuire.

Adams said that this past June the band had a Show Reveal during which the theme of the next season was disclosed. “That’s when we know a little bit about the music and the general concept of the program.”

Band competitions coming up at Miamisburg are Oct. 14 and Nov. 4.

Aylward said the Miamisburg H.S. Marching Band program has grown significantly over the past five or six years. “We’ve created a culture, and the students want to be a part of it.” He credits Patti Bennett, music director at the middle schools, for encouraging young musicians. “We actually have about 30 eighth-graders in our band this year. The eighth graders have to audition,” said Aylward. He explained that anyone who wants to be in the marching band will be accepted. “Marching band at MHS is an extra-curricular. It’s not taught or practiced during the school day. We have no alternates or students who sit on the bench. Everyone is involved.”

The MHS Marching Band is ranked among some of the best in the state of Ohio, and last season they placed second in Class AAA in a large Bands of America competition. At the Bishop Fenwick Invitational competition MHS was rated Best Music, Best Visual, Best General Effect, Best Percussion, Best Auxiliary in Open Class and Overall Grand Champion.

Many of the band members opt for band because an older sibling has participated. Some chose to march because they had parents who did. Abby Montgomery loves telling about her father who played tuba for Ohio State University and dotted the “i.” in “Ohio.” “My mom played in the OSU band, too.”

Darcy Brodehl, a sophomore baritone player, is marching for the first time: “I had friends who were in band and really liked it. It’s a lot of work but it’s fun.”

Brice Hall, a junior trombonist, said the heat is tough, but the Senior Dinner on Thursday evening during band camp is fantastic.

Marching band is not an inexpensive venture. That’s where the band parents come in. The band made nearly $20,000 working the concessions at University of Dayton and the Ringling Brothers Circus last year. And the food trucks the last night of band camp, when the band performs for the community, have agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to the band.

“The community is amazing. They’re so supportive and during our half times at football games, lots of people remain in their seats to watch and listen to the band,” Aylward said.

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