This past week, I was in Columbus, OH teaching percussion for the Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band Camp. This was my fourth year working with this band, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these students. For this reason, I have decided to put together a video blog of the week’s events, so that those people interested in how this band operates can get a glimpse into the hard work these students, assistants, and instructors put forth.
When mentioning this teaching opportunity to people, I am often faced with a few questions. First of all, some, not all of the students are 100% blind. The visual impairment of the students covers a wide spectrum, from fairly well sighted to fully non-sighted. Secondly, many people wonder how these students are able to march on the field despite being visually impaired. This is where one of the most important jobs, the marching assistant, comes into play. Each student has a marching assistant who volunteers his or her time to learn all of the marching formations, and to guide the student through these formations. The marching assistant stands to the side or rear of the student, and guides them along with his/her hand on the shoulders of the student. There are many cues that the marching assistants must use in order to communicate the objectives to the student. Most of the marching assistants commit to every performance that the OSSB Marching Band participates in throughout the school year, and without these selfless volunteers, this program would not be possible.
In 2010, the OSSB Marching Band participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. This was an extremely unique accomplishment, as this school was the only of its kind to ever to do so.
Much of the music is taught by ear, or using braille music. The marching style is based largely on the Ohio State University Marching Band, which culminates in the OSSB’s rendition of “Le Regiment”, in which the band forms “Script Ohio” in Braille on the field, with the Sousaphone player dotting the “I”, in homage to the Ohio State University Marching Band. This is truly an awe inspiring event.
Check out part 2 here:
I hope you enjoy these videos, and if you have any questions about this experience, please comment or visit http://www.ossb.oh.gov for more information.