Education

YSU Marching Pride Tunes Up for 2019-20 Season

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Despite the cloudy skies and rain Tuesday, the Youngstown State University Marching Pride still put in time to practice.

Having flexibility and being able to make the most of anything comes along with being a part of YSU Marching Pride, said Brandt Payne, the director of athletic bands. While indoors, band members are able to focus on fundamental control of music basics, starting and ending sounds, breathing control and halftime music rehearsal. 

“Being inside gives us a lot of chances to slow things down,” he said. “Working on finger coordination with the breathing and then eventually evolving into sound production. It’s a rainy start to the day, so we’re just making the most of it inside Bliss Hall.”

This year, the marching band has two halftime shows planned, Payne said. While the weather is warm, the band will perform “a fire and ice halftime show to celebrate the Ice Castle,” he said. The second show is a summer tribute to bands Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Steely Dan and Queen.

In addition to halftime shows this year, the band will perform during events in Beeghly Center: Penguinette for a Day on Aug. 17 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and Color Guard for a Day on Aug. 24 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Meet the Marching Pride is scheduled for Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium, and on Sept. 7, Marching Pride alumni are invited to participate in an alumni marching band performance during halftime of the YSU football game. 

Band camp rehearsals include 12-hour days that run from Aug. 9 to 16. Staff members put in 14 hours daily to ensure the marching band maintains a strong presence in the stadium each year, he said.

“This is a very concentrated and busy stretch of time, but it’s valuable time,” Payne said. “Marching band is one of the few things going on in our students’ lives. Some of them go to work after they leave us at 8:30 p.m. They’re resilient.” 

Being a part of the more than 170-member YSU Marching Pride is a major commitment, but working together feels like family, said Lindsey Kiselica, the head of field staff. Practice helps break up the school day and has added to her college experience, Kiselica said. 

“I started all the way from the beginning of college,” she said. “I met amazing people through the band and especially my freshman year. It was such an awesome way to meet all of these people before I started my classes. It was nice walking on campus the first day already recognizing faces.”

Ryan Dutton, graduate assistant, observes the YSU Marching Pride practice.

Being a part of a representative body of YSU is something Mitchell Topf has enjoyed for the past three years. As the center snare drum section leader of the drum line, attending campus events as well as road games has given him that experience. 

“Last year we went to West Virginia,” he said. “We really get to represent the school.” 

The drum line acts as a timekeeper for the band. If mistakes are made, the entire band is affected, Topf said. The pressure to be solid and steady while performing is on, as is knowing what to do before the band knows what they are doing, he says.

“We have to learn things before everybody else, but we get to play a lot at games, so it’s fun to keep the energy going,” he said. “We’re what drives the marching band.” 

Marching fundamentals, choreography, warm up exercises and assisting Payne are in the hands of Ryan Dutton, a graduate assistant studying wind conducting at YSU. Even though rain always seems to become a part of the marching band’s season, it allows Dutton to become more creative working with the band members. 

“It’s kind of just a mantra of teaching,” he said. “Can you do something one way? Well, to be a teacher you need to be able to do something five ways and roll with whatever’s happening in the circumstance.” 

Approaching circumstances and teaching in diverse ways will impact Dutton’s conducting career in the long run, he said. Coming up with different methods to teach fundamentals and drills to more than 170 students daily is he will take with him in the real world, he said.

“We’ve got over 30 high schools represented in our marching band, so that’s 30 different marching styles they’re used to,” he said. “We have to bring all of that together to create Marching Pride.”

Pictured above: The YSU Marching Pride is comprised of more than 170 members.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.