Starting My Final Year With My Marching Band Family

Starting My Final Year With My Marching Band Family

There's a bittersweet feeling when you enter your last year as a member of The Pride of West Virginia.

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For as long as I can remember, band has been a huge part of my life. I started playing the clarinet in fifth grade and grew to love everything about it. I loved the sound that it made. I loved being able to play and read music. I even loved to be able to say that I was in the band and that I played an instrument. As I grew older, I started to learn more and more instruments. Before I knew it, I could play seven different instruments. With the wide variety of instruments that I could play, I found myself able to participate in a wide variety of ensembles throughout my school years. I was in concert bands, wind ensembles, jazz ensembles, and marching bands. I loved each and every ensemble, but one has always stuck out to me and has truly changed my life: Marching band.

When I first started in the fifth grade, I was only able to be part of a concert band. Where I went to school, band started in fifth grade, but marching band didn't start until seventh grade. I couldn't wait for the day I was able to wear a marching band uniform and attend band camp. In my fifth grade mind, I felt like that day would never come. Finally, that day came and the thing that I had waited two years to be part of was finally here. At first, I was nervous. I had imagined everything about what marching band would be like. I was scared because I wanted marching band to live up to my imagination. I was so happy to discover that it was everything and more.

Now, after 12 years of band, I find myself entering my 10th and final band camp. It couldn't be more bittersweet. I had expected my marching band career to end with high school. I never imagined that I would find myself as a member of a college marching band, let alone the amazing Pride of West Virginia.

I remember the day of my audition so well. My mom woke me up at seven in the morning, telling me to get up for my audition. I thought she was crazy. I wasn't prepared, nor did I have an audition piece to take with me for my audition. My mom sent me to Fawley's Music store, and as I left, she told me that she knew I would be great and that I would be able to be part of the band I had only ever imagined.

I got to Fawley's and searched for half an hour until, finally, I settled on a book with music from "Phantom of the Opera". I choose "Angel of Music" because it was my favorite song from "Phantom." Its melodic tone was so different from the other assigned pieces that I knew it would be perfect to show versatility. As it came time for my audition, I waited in the hallway until an audition room was open. Lucky for me, I got the drum major that was also a theater major to audition me.

After my audition, I felt OK. Next came the hard part: Waiting. Weeks went on and I began to think that I didn't make it into the band... Until I finally received my letter. I was officially a member of the clarinet section in the Pride of West Virginia–the band that I watched and loved since I was a little girl. I couldn't believe it. It was like a dream come true.

The Pride became like a family to me and for the past three years, it has meant so much to me. It has given me opportunities to do so many once-in-a-lifetime things. We marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and at the Magic Kingdom in Disney. Now, as I get ready to enter my fourth and last year with the band, I look back at all of the things the band has taught me and experiences it's given me. Band has truly changed my life for the better.

If it wasn't for the love, support, and motivation from my mom, I would have never become part of this amazing band. I am so grateful for her. I cannot wait until she and my dad get to watch me at each game, doing the thing that I love with people that are special and talented and love the band just as much as I do. I look forward to this final season and even though I am sad that this chapter of my life is closing, I am so grateful for the memories.

For one last season, I get to join the Pride of West Virginia the Mountaineer Marching Band as they bring on and support our West Virginia University Mountaineers.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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