By Joseph Pratt
The students in the Sciotoville Community High School Marching Band have achieved a lot of growth over their yearlong hiatus off the field, and Director Randall McMullen says they are ready to perform once again, after extensive training and starting over from the beginning.
McMullen was hired last year, after he said the district’s band had suffered a steady decline over a five-year period. He pulled the students off the football field last year to teach them the basics of marching through extensive drill practices, as well as lessons on the mechanics of the instruments and how to properly play them.
After a full year under his belt, McMullen said that he feels comfortable in his role, thanks to a supportive administration and staff. He also says the students have drastically improved.
“They [administration] told me about this ahead of time, and I thought they were exaggerating, but the National Anthem was so far off that, unless it was announced before the students performed, you couldn’t recognize it,” McMullen said. “Now, when the band plays it, the audience gets goosebumps; it is patriotic and inspiring.”
McMullen said that the band numbers remain steady, with no growth in size as of yet, because he is growing the band from the ground up. More focus has been placed on getting younger students to join so that the school will, one day, have a larger band.
“For years now, the band hasn’t had a reliable and steady flow of members for the younger students to look up to and learn from,” McMullen said. “Now, students are mostly in it ‘til the end and we have students helping each other out; things are looking pretty good in that department.”
McMullen said that he is proud of the band’s growth and believes the students should be marching in the football games this year, after taking the year off the field to learn.
The show that McMullen and the band has been preparing is one featuring songs of the 1960’s. Some of the numbers include “Evil Ways,” by Santana; “Shambala,” by Three Dog Night, “The Horse,” by Cliff Nobles and Company, and “Never My Love,” by The Association.
McMullen said the students have had a positive reaction to the show he prepared this year.
“The students are moving and rocking to the music; they like it,” McMullen said. “When I played ‘Never My Love,’ I didn’t tell them what it was, but they were just nodding along and I could tell they already knew it.”
McMullen said that he is still working on getting the band ready for competition level this year and isn’t planning on attending any competitions right now.
“These students are hungry to learn.” McMullen said. “They have been training tirelessly and a year of work has had a monumental impact on them. The lines we are seeing them march now aren’t perfect just yet, but they are still pretty good, especially for a group that couldn’t just a year prior.”
Sciotoville Community High School Marching Band is preparing to perform during the halftime of the football team’s first home game against South Gallia on Friday, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.
McMullen working drills with the band.