Marching onto the field

Published 10:17 am Friday, September 25, 2009

Just imagine, walking out onto the field at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium on the campus of Marshall University and looking up into the stands to see tens of thousands of spectators.

That’s what happened to the members of the marching bands from two Lawrence County schools last Saturday as Symmes Valley and Fairland High participated in Marshall Band Day.

The annual event is a tradition where the Huntington, W.Va., university invites area bands to march with its Marching Thunder Band during half time and perform along with its members.

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“It is a great opportunity for our kids,” Robert Mann, Symmes Valley band director, said. “Not very many students will get the opportunity to go to a college football game where they can perform in front of 30,000 to 40,000 and experience a day in the life of a college marching band.”

Weeks before the big day, Steve Barnett, Marshall’s director of bands, sent out the musical arrangements and marching formation drills to those schools participating. The bands practiced the medleys and the marching plans before they met up with Marshall hours before the actual performance.

This year the half-time show was made up of three arrangements featuring then 60s pop songs, “Happy Together,” “Light My Fire,” and “California Dreamin”; John Phillip Sousa marches and patriotic songs.

“The students got so excited. They were overwhelmed to march out onto the field and see 30,000 people,” Mann said. “They are all good kids and they work hard and I know it was a good experience.”

Two of those from the Symmes Valley band were Tyler Brumfield, a senior, and Leah Webb, a sophomore.

This was the first MU half-time performance for Brumfield who plays the snare drums. He called it an honor to get to perform with the Marching Thunder Marching Band.

“It was full of energy and I was excited to be performing on a college football field,” Brumfield said. “It was real exciting.”

It was the second time Leah Webb, a sophomore, performed at MU’s Band Day.

“It is so much fun. It is really scary because there are so many people, but it’s fun,” Webb said. “I think it was good for our band. We are a small band. It gives them confidence to play with other bands.”