DB band marches to state finals

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

"It's like the marching field's your canvas and you're having to paint the pictures with the movement."

For 18-year-old senior trumpeter Jeremy Dillon and his fellow Dawson-Bryant High School band mates, waxing poetic about the school's marching band is easy to do.

After receiving a superior rating at the recent Buckeye Classic in Ironton, the group is heading to the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) State Marching Band Finals on Saturday. This is the fifth consecutive year the school has advanced to that level.

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Though sometimes overlooked in favor of athletics, the marching band requires physical, musical and visual coordination from all of its 50 members.

"Marching band is more," Dillon said. "Some people don't want to admit it's a sport, but it's more than a sport, it's an art."

Everyone marching in perfect harmony, doing the exact same thing at the exact same time, can be like a work of art. Or, it can be a train wreck waiting to happen if one person is out of sync. Just ask any of the students who have stumbled or gotten hit by an instrument or another band member along the way.

"Band is a contact sport," Christina Childers, a 17-year-old senior saxophonist, said laughing.

But Dawson-Bryant's band isn't characterized by its missteps. The group has been bringing home awards and high ratings for years.

"Our students have worked real hard for it," Band Director Tom Zerkle said. "It's something that they've strived to do each year and be able to go and perform at. It's really an honor for them because at last count, there were only 112 bands going to the state finals.

"There's about 450 or so that compete in local contests in the state of Ohio," Zerkle said. "It's a big honor to get to go and they take a lot of pride in getting to go."

At the State Finals, the bands do not compete against each other, but receive ratings of 1-5 based on individual performance, "1" being the highest possible. Dawson-Bryant has yet to receive a "1," but that hasn't discouraged the students.

"We want the '1,' " Dillon said. "This year we're going to change that hopefully."

The students said that competition keeps them going.

"Getting the first place, it really hits you hard because you know you did your best and you deserved it," Childers said. "It's probably the most rewarding part."

Just as rewarding is the support the band gets from its neighbors. Not just the steak dinner the band boosters provide the students every year they go to finals, but the love they get from parents, friends and Coal Grove every day.

"The community seems to be very proud of us and very supportive of the fact that we get to go," Zerkle said.

The band is proud of Zerkle as well.

"Oh, Mr. Zerkle, he's so sweet," Ami Wooten, 17-year-old senior saxophonist, said. "He gave us all warm fuzzy notes to put in our pockets to give us a little bit of a boost."

Other area schools participating in the OMEA state finals are Green, Sycamore, Gallia, Portsmouth West and NorthWest. A superior rating at one of the local competitions such as the Buckeye Classic is required to advance.