LIMA — With the recent firing of The Ohio State University’s marching band director, Jon Waters, and all the questions about the culture of the OSU marching band, questions begin to arise about area marching bands and how to maintain a healthy band culture.
Jacob Litwiller, Lima Central Catholic’s band director, said the recent events at OSU have not made him worry about LCC’s marching band at all. The band, he said, has never had any issues with its culture.
“I am confident that LCC has a culture that is welcoming and comforting for everyone involved,” Litwiller said.
One of the reasons LCC has such a positive band culture, Litwiller said, is because of the band’s spiritual foundations. The band begins and ends rehearsals with prayer, which the band members enjoy and which puts everyone in the right mindset.
“It reminds us what we’re actually doing this for,” Litwiller said.
In addition, the band has “family leaders,” who apply and are selected to be leaders within the band. The band members are then divided into a certain number of groups based upon how many family leaders there are, according to Litwiller.
At Allen East Local School District, Kristi Goble, president of the music association, said the recent events at OSU have not sparked any concern either. There has never been a problem with Allen East’s marching band, Goble said.
“Our brass is like one big happy family,” Goble said.
Many of the band members are children of former Allen East marching band members, a reflection of how healthy the band culture is, Goble said. The students form bonds in marching band that last into adulthood, Goble said.
The reason that the culture in the band is so healthy, Goble said, is because the band members are held to high standards.
“You are expected to give 110 percent,” Goble said. “The brass is not for sissies.”
Band members have to be dedicated. During their time in the band, they learn responsibility, timeliness and a strong work ethic, Goble said.
The members know all the music for the season before band camp, but have to learn all the dance moves for the season during the 7 a.m. to noon one week camp and then perform at the Allen County Fair on the same day as their last day of camp, according to Goble.
The children who join and cannot meet the high standards filter themselves out, Goble said, which is another reason the culture stays healthy. The children with dedication are the ones who stick with it.
The only similarity between OSU’s band and St. Marys Memorial High School marching band is that both bands are all-brass. After that, the similarities stop, said Craig French, band director.
Any problems that there have been in the St. Marys marching band have been significantly milder. French concerns himself more with band attendance and if the band members are treating each other with respect.
Even when band members do not treat each other with respect, it is typically a one-on-one issue and such incidents are isolated, French said.
The success of their healthy band culture is first because of the band handbook, which details expectations for attendance and behavior for band members, even discussing how members act on the bus or in the stands at a football game. In addition to signing that agreement, students also have to follow the general school code of conduct, according to French.
“I think that’s the first step, just clearly outlining what you expect,” French said.
The second step is to simply be aware of what is happening with the students, French said. For example, the band will be spending a night in a hotel room when they travel to Wheeling, West Virginia. In addition to French, there will be many parent chaperones and a security guard that will be making sure everything is running smoothly.
No matter what measures he takes, French said he cannot monitor the band members all the time. However, the band members do not try to get away with things, French said, another reason for their healthy band culture.