ARCANUM — Arcanum – Butler’s 40-member High School Band scored a “I” Superior Rating at the Ohio Music Education Association’s (OMEA) State Adjudicated Event, in April.
The OMEA said its purpose for the adjudicated festival is to offer viable comments and suggestions in a positive, constructive manner to each group resulting in a fair evaluation of the group’s performance, reflected within the Ohio Five Rating Plan. The highest rating, “I” is an outstanding performance, with very few errors and the lowest rating “V”, is a very poor performance indicating deficiencies in most of the essential factors.
With the retirement of 29-year band director Doug Albright, Arcanum High School was in search of a director. His years of outstanding service regularly placed the Arcanum Band among the best in the area. Arcanum found that new Band Director Heather Marsh, is up to the task and making her own positive impact on the program.
“It is not always easy when we have a new band director coming in after Mr. Albright’s been here for a long time,” Stephen said. “But Mrs. Marsh has done an outstanding job in her first year and our kids are really the best they can be. I am really proud of how hard they worked and how much time they put into making a success out of the event.”
This is Marsh’s 10th year as a band director and her first at Arcanum. Under the direction of Marsh, the Arcanum band has had a number of highlights for the 2016-2017 school year, including the Superior Rating at State. Part of her strategy is training the students to strive for improvement in daily operations.
“When I first came to Arcanum, I noticed that my kids wanted to do well, but when I asked them what it takes to do well, I don’t know that they could really answer that question very clearly,” she said. “We did some goal – setting at the beginning of the year and what it would take to achieve each of those goals. We wrote everything down on big poster boards and hung them up in the front of the room, so we could look at that everyday.”
Senior students Allison Moore and Shelby Horzsa have been sitting next to each other in Arcanum band class since fifth grade. Moore plays the oboe and Horzsa, the flute. What makes their band a winner?
“We are a little band and we have a really big sound and it surprised a lot of people,” Horzsa said. “Going into the competition, I was so scared. I didn’t think we had prepared enough, but when we walked off stage I had tears in my eyes. I knew we had achieved something so much bigger than what I had thought the week before. It was really awesome when we got our rating – we both started crying.”
“We are really confident in what we do, so we are not afraid to give it everything we’ve got,” Moore said. “Winning has definitely given me a lot of perspective on our capabilities. It made us realize that we can really accomplish anything we set our mind to, because we work and have passion for what we do. The other thing that sets our band apart so much is that we don’t just play it correctly, but we play it with a lot of expression, making the piece actually mean something and tell a story.”
One of the pieces the band played for State, “Three Ayres from Gloucester”, by Hugh M. Stuart, is very old-fashioned band literature from the 1950s, which is really difficult to play, Marsh said. The first week the students saw the music they were intimidated, Marsh said. In addition to Arcanum, about 50 bands in the region participated in the State event. Arcanum played at the overflow site in Troy.
“We have a lot of great people supporting our program,” Marsh said. “When I walked out on stage and looked out at the audience, I was amazed by the number of people that were there. So many people traveled to hear us and it was overwhelming. I am really proud of these kids, because the person that I replaced (Albright) was amazing and a legend in the community. I know that I am very different from him, but the kids were very welcoming and open to change and receptive to my new ideas. I couldn’t be more proud of them being open to trying new things.”