Tri-Valley Local School District Marching Band trains for OMEA

DRESDE – Lined up on the training ground outside the school district office late Monday afternoon, the Three Valley Marching Band stood at attention, staring ahead as they awaited instructions from their commanders ground.

The 89-degree summer heat devastated the musical army of nearly 100 students in grades 8-12 as their conductors counted them. That’s when the drums came in dreamy, the hallmark of the 2021 show – and the band came to life.

Although it wasn’t long before Amanda Blevins, director of the district’s eight school and extracurricular groups, stopped the group.

“It’s time to start over,” she announced into a megaphone as the ensemble abandoned their performance positions and rushed to their starting points, closely aligned with their band mates.

But shoulder-to-shoulder training is nowhere near what it looked like last year.

The marching band, known to sync and collaborate closely with its band mates, was upset last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tri-Valley’s walking season continued, although they only played in all four home football games last fall.

This year, the group is training to qualify for the Ohio Music Education Association State Competition for the 39th time. It was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

“We work hard every year for this. We don’t take it for granted,” said Blevins, now in his 26th year as group director at Tri-Valley. “Every band is different – the chemistry is different, the instrumentation is different.”

With the 2021 Marching Band Competition show highlighting a theme of unity, Blevins said students were receptive to getting back in the saddle and regaining team spirit.

Again in action

Last year the fanfare season was still going on, but it wasn’t like it used to be.

Instead of walking shoulder to shoulder with their group mates, the exercises were designed so that the students were six feet apart. Blankets were placed at the end of the bells of their instruments to prevent the spread of the airborne coronavirus when practicing indoors.

Abby Kopcho plays the vibraphone at the Tri-Valley Marching Band practice on Monday August 23, 2021.

“The most important thing is to get everyone back into this competitive mode with this level of quality. There are some things that we can’t let slip that we would let slip for a football game. We just try to get them. gently bring it back to where it needs to be. “

That’s why this year’s show, titled “Unboxed,” highlights the theme of coming out of the box created by the pandemic, according to drill writer Karen Hand. It is set to “Ode to Joy”.

Hand describes the form at the start of the show as boxed. Every shape is a closed shape, every movement students make is inside of it – with large cubic props to illustrate the theme.

Elders of the Tri-Valley Marching Band demonstrate one of the cubic props used in this year's competition

As the show continues, the walkers move into smaller groups and eventually break away from the pack to show off their individual talents, Hand said.

“We work with their mindset: you are each of the individuals. Thanks to COVID, you had to use your own individual gifts and talents because you couldn’t be with others,” she said. “Now you’re together again. Put all of your individual talents together, drop it and see what happens.

Although this year was meant to mark four decades of that accomplishment. The OMEA canceled the competition last year due to the pandemic.

Adapting to the pandemic-friendly group has been difficult for several reasons, according to senior field commanders Charlie Lorenz and Kortney LeMaster.

Lorenz said it was disappointing not to be able to reach the 40th OMEA milestone before he graduated, but he’s excited about the show this year. The theme reminds him of the band’s performances from previous years. “We handle (the music) really well with all the different beats and key changes, and just really complex chords and it all mixes up.”

The seniors are determined to make up for lost time last year, as much of the ensemble is made up of younger members. “Everyone has to learn new things,” said group president Anna Krupa.

“It’s definitely a challenge to help everyone learn all of this, but I think we’re just happy to be on the pitch again,” said LeMaster.

Blevins said the enthusiasm and dedication to learning music has been impressive coming out of a year of the pandemic. Even the simplest parts of being in a marching band, like taking the bus to away games, make students excited to get back to the action, she said.

“I think with musical and walking scale progress these kids picked up right away. The older kids taught the younger ones… They were really open and receptive to whatever we asked them to. do, ”Hand said. “It was a lot of fun working with them.”


Twitter: @couchreporting

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