No parades, but Albion marching band performs in online competition

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2021 at 1:35 pm

Band also planning for scaled-down performance for parents

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Saleya Williams, one of the drum majors for the Albion marching band, leads the group on Saturday while they prepared to be filmed for an online competition hosted by the Sherburne-Earlville school district in Chenango County.

The Albion band, like the others in the area, has seen the parade competition season cancelled this spring.  Some marching bands took the season off. Mike Thaine, Albion’s marching band director, didn’t want to lose another season after the 2020 spring season was wiped out due to Covid-19 restrictions. That kind of a gap could make it more difficult to keep the program going once the pandemic subsides.

The Albion band started rehearsing through Zoom in January. It wasn’t much fun but the students still welcomed the chance to see each other.

“The kids more than anything still wanted to meet, so we met through Zoom,” Thaine said. “Add that to the list of things I never thought I’d do – teaching marching band on Zoom.”

The band enters playing “Old Town Road” and gets into formation for the online competition on Saturday.

The drum majors – Annalise Steier and Saleya Williams – went over commands, such as attention, mark time, forward march, parade rest and others.

“The kids got sick of Zoom quickly and so did the staff,” Thaine said.

Zoom did offer a benefit of the 50 band members getting to work on the music early. This year the band is playing the popular song, “Old Town Road.” That song is a hit with many of the students.

When the group finally was able to rehearse in-person for the first time on April 15, they were ahead of the normal schedule. They have been in-person on most Thursday evenings since then, with the sounds of the band reverberating around the neighborhood, a welcome sound after more than a year absence.

Mike Thaine inspects the band from the roof of the high school with help from Lyndsey Almeter, the elementary school band teacher.

Thaine and the band have focused on playing the music, without the demands of complicated marching formations.

He is enthused by the group of 50 students, with most expected to be key performers in upcoming years.

The band will keep meeting Thursday evenings through the end of May. They are scheduled to perform for parents on May 27.

Saleya Williams has been in the band since seventh-grade, playing the trombone before shifting to drum major this year as a senior.

“It was very fun for me,” she said about being the band. Even though every one was older than me (when I was in seventh grade), they made me feel welcome, especially Mr. Thaine.”

Annalise Steier, left, and Saleya Williams gets their drum major uniforms out before Saturday’s online performance for the marching band.

Annalise Steier, the other drum major, also is a senior. She is grateful the marching band was able to get together this season, even though there aren’t any parades or travel.

“The best part is all of the relationships – the people,” she said.

Steier started in the band back in fourth grade, carrying the Purple Eagle banner in the parades.

Thaine said he looks forward to getting back to normal in the near future.

“This year we were just trying to do something to keep the kids engaged,” Thaine said. “We didn’t want to lose them for next year.”

Holley and Kendall have a combined marching band led by Zach Busch, a Holley band teacher. The group has been getting together for a performance on June 16 for friends and family at the Hawk Stadium. This will be the band’s only performance because the parades were cancelled, Busch said.

Medina’s band just started rehearsing and is focused on the fall field band season. Medina won the state championship on Oct. 27, 2019, the last time the band performed.

“With the restrictions we were not able to prepare for anything this spring and there aren’t any performance opportunities,” said Jim Steele, the band’s director. “We are excited to be back into the swing of things and the Mustang Marching Band is looking forward to performances next fall.”

Steele said he is working on a way to honor the seniors before the end of the school year.

“We are sad for our great seniors as they had a uneventful and disappointing ending to their impressive career in the program,” Steele said.

The Albion drum line gave a high-energy performance on Saturday. These three include, from left: Abby Allen, Jacob Thom and Aubrey Boyer.