VINTON–The first week of August each summer does not just mark the beginning of fall sports practices. It also signals the start of marching band season.
In fact, some members of the William Byrd Marching Terriers—the rookies and the color guard—got a head start at the end of July.
The complete band held Home Camp at the high school the first week of August. They spent the second week at Away Camp at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, chaperoned by band director Dan Plybon, band assistant Chris Steuart, Band Booster president Robin Geisler, Jed Geisler, and Amana Desilvey.
In addition to learning their music and marching program, students had some time for team building activities with the Band Camp Olympics. Band sections competed in a variety of Olympic Games including egg relays and the t-shirt exchange, vying for the Oboe of Owesomeness Award, which was won by the woodwinds section.
At the end of the week, families were invited to camp for a picnic and an exhibition of what the Marching Terriers had mastered during their week away from home.
Plybon told the parents that he rates the bands each year at camp on their performance on a scale of 1 to 100 with the highest ever score being 12/100.
Before the afternoon performance he gave the 2015 band a score of 10/100. However after their impressive show he upped their score to 12.3.
His advice to the band when they mustered in the gymnasium at Camp Bethel prior to performing was to” always be a little better than your last performance, always try to beat your best performance.”
The week of August 17 was back to parking lot drills. Practices continue three afternoons a week once school starts.
This year’s band has over 70 members. This is Plybon’s tenth year as band director and instructor at WBHS. Denise Aspell, the new eighth grade band director at William Byrd Middle School is also the Marching Terriers’ assistant director this season. WBHS English teacher Whitney Puckett continues as Color Guard Director. Rob Curtin is in his second year as drum instructor during marching season.
As for student leadership, the Marching Terriers are led by Corps Commander Sarah Frary, along with two Drum Majors–Joshua Hylton and Melissa Wu. The Horn Line Captains are Jordon Baker, Hailey Blair, and Peyton Wilmer, with Percussion Captains Trevor Bowman and Amelia Tilley. Autumn Alls is this year’s Color Guard Captain.
The first half-time performance for the Marching Terriers will be on August 28 at home when the Terriers play Cave Spring High School. Other home games this season include Hidden Valley High School on September 4, William Fleming on October 9, Homecoming versus Alleghany on October 23, and Senior Night on October 30 facing Lord Botetourt.
The theme for the 2015 Marching Terriers show is entitled “Machine.” Plybon described the program as having lots of elements, symbolic gears, and “things breaking down.”
There will be props on the field including gears and smokestacks, with the possibility of a flutist atop one smokestack.
The Band Booster officers serving with Geisler are vice president David Cherry, Secretary Stephanie Krippel, Treasurer Teresa Tate, and Ways and Means chair Robyn Tuck.
Families with students in the band know that band is a family affair and that it takes at least a village to transport and supervise a marching band.
The Band Boosters conduct numerous fundraising activities to raise the thousands of dollars needed for basic operating expenses, band camp, and participation in several Saturday band competitions throughout the marching season. Band boosters not only raise money but chaperone games and competitions. They also build props and haul equipment.
A full pit crew of parents has not been fully formed as of yet, but a planning committee is working on building props. Dave Cherry is heading up the pit crew and the planning/building group. So far he has signed up Roger Wickham, Scott Wilmer, and John Frary on smokestacks; Jed Geisler on Gears, and Rick Naff and Jeff Baker on bases. Robin Geisler is creating screens to hide the color guard.
The Boosters have several fundraisers already scheduled. The first is the annual Preview of Champions which will take place on Saturday, September 19 at the WBHS stadium. Preview is generally the first band competition each season in the region.
Businesses and individuals are encouraged to both support the band and to advertise by purchasing ads in the Preview program. Details are available from Geisler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marching Terriers do not compete at the Preview event on September 19 but perform in exhibition. They will take part in competitions at Celtic Classic at Glenvar High School on September 26, in the Lynchburg Classic on October 10, at James Madison University on October 17, and at Pulaski on October 31.
Bands in competition are judged on their musical performance, their marching form and precision, and on general effect (showmanship, guard work, difficulty level, communication with the audience, visuals, and transitions) and given a rating of superior, excellent, or good in the adjudication.
The Band Boosters work Bingo on a regular basis. They also hold an annual fruit sale, which begins in the early fall and runs through mid-November, with the fruit delivered before Winter Break. Plans are also in the works for a pancake breakfast, sales of Joe Corbi products (pizza kits and cookie dough), a pasta sale, and a golf tournament.
The annual end of marching season Grid Iron Performance is scheduled for November 12 at WBHS. The Marching Terriers will be participating in the town’s annual tree-lighting event at the Municipal Building and the Vinton Holiday Parade on December 3.