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Thursday, August 5,2010

All-boys prep band serenades OU’s south campus

By Libby Cunningham
At 8 a.m. on a Monday, most teenage males are asleep; same goes for 8 a.m. on a Tuesday, or for the rest of the week for that matter, unless, of course, he is a member of the St. Xavier High School Marching Band.

People  living near Ohio University’s South Green may have noticed that the fields near  the bike path have come alive with the sound of music recently. This is because  nearly 80 students from the all-boys private high school near Cincinnati are  spending the week in Athens perfecting their performance.

Almost  all of the energetic members of the marching band seemed thrilled to be a part  of the organization.

“It’s a  choice; I do it because it’s just something to do. And I find it to be very  fun,” said sophomore and drumline member Wynston Wilcox.

Wilcox,  who plays the snare drum, said that he is happy to be a member of St. Xavier’s  drumline because of the active role that the section plays in the ensemble.

“You’re  more active I guess because you’re using your hands at the time,” Wilcox said  of his instrument.

St.  Xavier has called Athens home for band camp for the past six years, said band  director David Thomas.

“This  is tradition for us… We come up every August,” Thomas said. “It builds  community, which is probably the most important aspect of our band. These guys  are like brothers.”

A sense  of  brotherhood among members is  beneficial during what can be 14-hour practices that start each morning with  the boys doing drill between 8 and 11:30 a.m., Thomas said.

After a  lunch break, the band utilizes OU’s Robert Glidden Hall (music building) to  work on learning music and working within groups for each instrument during  sectionals, Thomas said. The boys find themselves back on the field to put it  all together by 7 p.m. each day, with practice occasionally extending past 10  p.m., he said.

During  the day, they are fed at Nelson Dining Hall, and after a long day of practice  they can head back to the residence hall where they are being housed for a  week, he said.

“They  have a blast,” he assured.

Thomas  said that this year’s camp has been successful.

“This  has been the smoothest year,” he said. “Everything has gone very easily. The  only challenge is that I had a couple of guys in camp with knee injuries.”

But  long days and knee injuries will not stop the boys from preparing for their  Aug. 29 appearance on ESPN, when the St. Xavier Bombers football team takes on  Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.

To do  this show, the band is drawing inspiration from the sports network itself, said  Karl Thomsen, also a band director.

“It’s a  show just for ESPN,” he said. “We are using all of their thematic material.”

Thomsen  described the dynamics of a single-gender band to be “different” than those of  a co-ed ensemble. “It can be somewhat of a locker-room dynamic,” he explained.  “It’s a lot of fun. They’re pretty close, a pretty good community.”

For the  boys, being in an all-male band has similar pros and cons to being in an  all-male school.

Sousaphone  player Andy Hall, a senior, said that despite the heaviness of his instrument,  which weighs almost 50 pounds, he is having a good week at camp in Athens.

“It is  very fun and interesting,” he said. “We leave on Saturday.”

Junior  Luke Fay has been playing percussion since seventh grade and is currently a  tenor drum player for the band’s drumline.

“The  brotherhood and the bonding is the best part,” he said. “The most difficult and  hardest part of the day is the morning. We have to get up and march on the  field.”

For the  ESPN appearance, Fay said the band is doing some special formations as a  tribute to the network. “We are doing the theme from ‘Rocky,’” he said. “We are  making a boxing glove and then steps that we run up.”

An  all-guy band also leaves room for some members to pick up what may seem to be  traditionally more feminine instruments.

Senior  Max Ripsteinberg plays the piccolo. “I’m manly enough to do it,” he joked. “It  doesn’t make a difference. The one difference is you don’t get as many guys  playing it.”


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