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Norwin band marching to different drummer during halftime shows

| Friday, Aug. 12, 2011

As fall quickly approaches, members of the Norwin Marching Band are spending their summer learning two different shows.

The 153-member band is learning popular music and choreography for football halftime shows -- and classical music and choreography for band competitions, says band director Robert Traugh.

The band usually performs its band competition show during halftime throughout the season.

"We decided to do a little more audience-friendly show for football games by offering songs people would instantly recognize," Traugh said. "It's a little extra work, but the community has always been supportive of the band, so we wanted to give them more."

The band is learning a medley of popular 1980s music, including Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean"; Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl"; and "Love Shack" by the B-52s. The medley will be presented during halftime.

Senior Cayla Kochenour, who plays clarinet, said she expects the band to get a strong reception from the audience when playing popular numbers at football games.

"The halftime show encourages the audience to get into it, instead of focusing on our normal competition show," she said. "It should create a really fun environment."

The band's competition show, "Salvation," is based on a piece from 1912 by Russian composer Pavel Chesnokov called "Salvation is Created," and the 1910 ballet, "The Firebird," by American composer Igor Stravinsky.

Traugh expects to teach the band both the competition and halftime shows simultaneously, without requiring any additional rehearsals.

Both shows have different choreographed marches, and the band will learn the halftime show marching scheme first, Traugh said.

"It's really a balancing act, and we're going to make sure both shows are performed to our high standards," Traugh said. "The competition show will take longer to learn and probably won't be complete until October. We'll perform whatever we have done at the competitions, and plan to add more and more as we go."

The show is a tradition in the Norwin band and has been performed several times over the last 20 years, Traugh said.

The sense of tradition behind the competition show drives the students to work harder to perfect it, said senior trumpet player Dylan McCurdy.

"There's meaning behind the show that reaches out to anyone who has been a part of this organization," McCurdy said. "This show means we're expected to perform really well, and it makes us work harder to do better."

The addition of the second show will make the band work harder, which ultimately could lead to better performances, he said.

"We're pushing our musical boundaries further than we have for years," he said. "That push will help us make better music and be more entertaining."

Band schedule

Outside of football games, there are several times to catch the Norwin Marching Band in action:

• Norwin Marching Band preview show, 6 p.m. Aug. 19, Norwin High School

• Kiski Band Festival, Sept. 17, Kiski Area High School

• Norwin Bands of America Festival, Sept. 24, Norwin High School

• Norwin High School Homecoming Parade, Oct. 8, downtown Irwin

• Bands of America Regional Competition, Oct. 15, University of Akron

• West Allegheny Cavalcade of Bands, Oct. 22, West Allegheny High School

• Pennsylvania Interscholastic Marching Band Association Championships, Oct. 29, Norwin High School

• Bands of America Grand Nationals, Nov. 10-13, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

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