Editor’s note: This is part of a continuting series highlighting area bands before and the fall performances.
Wheelersburg High School marching band is gearing up for their second year back into competition season and are sticking with their modern rock genre of music. Last year, band director Matt Smith brought the band back into competitions and did so, surprisingly, with a heavy metal show. The show was well received, but he didn’t want to repeat the same type of show and give the marching band the image of a metal band, so he has settled for a show with more modern rock music. Last year, Smith said that he taught the kids this genre of music because of its big sound and traces from classical music; the music is educational, while also staying entertaining.
“The drums and guitar were the center points of last year’s show and I didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into that being our thing, that we’re a rock band with a marching band kind of thing. So, because of that, I did want something up-beat and rock-based, but still really feature the band. I think the kids have appreciated that in this show,” Smith said.
The show prepared by the Wheelersburg band is called “Time,” and features songs that are anchored by a theme of time. The set list for “Time” is “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and “Clocks” by Coldplay.
The 1985 Grammy Award nominated ballad by Cyndi Lauper is the only deviation from rock in their show and was chosen for its fame and for it being a quintessential 80s song. However, it has been adapted to be a better marching band song and Smith said that people will see that there is a lot of stuff going on in its music.
The show’s set list was decided on the expectation that the music will be exciting in the Friday night football stands.
“Sometimes these competition shows get a little too “out there” for football games. It’s something we like to walk the line between,” Smith said. “We want to maintain balance between entertaining and the competitions on Saturdays. We might throw in a modern pop song here and there over the course of football season, too.”
Smith said the goal for this competition and football season is excellence. He said that he only asks for them to do what they are capable of. However, he has worked hard to give them the tools to achieve excellence. Wheelersburg has one of the most extensive band camps, which runs 12 hours long. Smith said that his students work hard, because they have lofty goals that require hard work.
Eliza Eaches, senior, has been in band for five years and has been drum major for three of those years. Eaches claims that this is the best she has seen the band since she has been involved. Being a member of the choir, the band and JAX Theatre, Eaches said that music is an integral part of who she is and although she is unsure what role it will play in her life after she graduates, she is sure it will still be a major part.
“If we’re not improving we’re not doing anything at all, basically, and I think we’re doing the best that I’ve ever seen,” Eaches said. “As opposed to previous years, we’ve gotten so much done with music and marching that it is ridiculous.”
Eaches said that this show was built to blend together and flow a lot better than past shows and the crowd should find the more artistic approach interesting.
“Because it is more artistic, some people might be a little unsure of it, but I think most people will react more positively. One thing for sure is that people will see how much better we’ve gotten. Musically will be the most interesting growth, because it is apparently better than our metal show was last year.”
The Wheelersburg marching band will be attending the Rock Hill competition, the Dawson Bryant competition, the Valley competition and the competition at Bloom-Carroll.
“I’m lucky to have this group of kids and it has been exciting to grow with the band,” Smith said. “My first year here we had only 15 kids here and now we are up to 45. It’s just an exciting time to be a part of this program and this school.”