Heat is on as Quaker Valley band preps for football season opener
Under a gray sky, members of the Quaker Valley High School Marching Band count their steps in unison as they rehearse on a grass field at Slippery Rock University.
They are working on the choreography for their Latin-themed halftime show and repeatedly go over sections of the program.
They don't complain, despite the high humidity.
Every now and then, band director Cory Neville yells out “Whoa oh,” to which the students respond “I love band.”
By last Thursday afternoon, the students already had endured three-plus days — around 10 hours each — of grueling practices but didn't seem any worse for wear. They know that in order to be a member of the marching band, they must be completely dedicated.
It's not like a sport where if a student misses a practice, he or she gets benched the next game, Neville said. It's imperative that everyone commits to attending the weeklong camp at the Butler County university.
“They'll rehearse more this week than the rest of the entire school year,” Neville said.
“Every single kid is essential, which is good. It's good to have that responsibility.”
Since arriving at Quaker Valley four years ago, Neville has noticed a steady increase in marching band membership.
This year, there are 56 students in the marching band — an increase of eight students over last year, despite losing 13 seniors. Of those 56 students, more than 20 are freshmen.
“(It's) not a huge difference in numbers, but it makes a significant difference depending on what instruments you gain,” Neville said.
“We have nine alto saxophones this year, compared to last year's two, and we have nine trumpets compared to last year's four.
“To replace 13 graduates and add another eight on top of that is big for us,” he said. “If we can keep the trend of bringing in at least 20 to 30 new members every year, the next few years look very promising.”
Neville attributes the increase in interest to other band members.
“Everyone's been working really hard to get the word out there and recruit,” he said. “They share their stories and are making a case (for others to join).”
K.J. Devlin, a senior on the drum line, said he thinks the increase also is due to having a director who has been there for several years now.
“Mr. Neville is the longest-running director we've had,” he said. “And this is the biggest band we've had in like six years.”
Devlin, who has been playing since fifth grade, said he has been around marching band since his sister, Alyssa, who graduated in 2006, was in color guard. He knew when he reached high school, he, too, would like to join the band.
“I've always loved music,” he said. “It's always been a huge part of my life.”
Each year, before choosing the music for the show, Neville said they start with a general pool of ideas, then do some research to see if music is available for those ideas. He said the music has to be on par with the ability-level of the band but also must fulfill musical goals.
“Picking music is the most important job of any music teacher,” Neville said.
This year's program includes “Children of Sanchez” by Chuck Mangione, “Evil Ways” and “Yaleo” by Santana, and “Mambo” by Leonard Berstein from the musical “West Side Story.” He said that song is faux-Latin “but a really good song.”
“It's a big give and take,” Neville said of choosing music that will both challenge the students as well as teach them something.
“That's why I avoid Top 40,” he said. They already know the songs because they hear them all of the time.
“It's not really learning it but replicating,” he said.
Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cyclists’ safety at heart of Sewickley discussion
- Sewickley Valley bird count discovers 91 species; you can, too
- Recent storms remind: Be careful what you wish for
- Quaker Valley board renews church’s lease of Osborne school
- Quaker Valley teachers get new contract
- Party hosts, singer enhance Fourth of July celebrations for Sewickley-area residents
- Quaker Valley Families await word of kindergarten location
- Little Sewickley Bridge scheduled to open at 5 p.m.