“…We’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feelin’ alright.”
The lyrics to Singer-songwriter Billy Joel’s 1973 hit, “Piano Man,” sure fit the mood Aug. 17 as members of the North Royalton High School Marching Band performed Joel’s signature melodies among other catchy tunes during a special “Parent Preview Night” that highlighted their football show and the many skills they have learned at Band Camp. The band was also joined by the talented and spirited Royalette Dance Team and Royalaire Color Guard.
Many would say summer Band Camp – three weeks of daily practice 5x a week – is just as rigorous as high school football practice, with band members on school grounds for hours a day learning the basics through small group sectionals, full ensemble music rehearsals and full ensemble drill rehearsals. Band Camp always commences three weeks before the first day of class, and students also meet three times in June to rehearse as well, said Director of Bands David Vitale in an email interview.
“There are 275 members in the marching band, and we are proud to be the largest student organization on the high school campus,” Vitale said.
The time spent learning, practicing and rehearsing all leads up to the glory of being under the Friday night lights at North Royalton Serpentini Chevrolet Stadium. The buzz in the air was truly electric as proud moms, dads, siblings and relatives gathered at the stadium Aug. 17 to watch their teens perform and debut the football show. Before the program started, new Band Boosters President Kathy Payne introduced herself to the large crowd gathered closely in the stands. All five members of the Boosters’ Executive Board are new this year, Payne said, herself included.
“We’re putting a real focus on the parents this year and encouraging them to volunteer and get involved by donating their time, talents and treasure,” she said in an interview in the days leading up to Parent Preview Night. “There is an emphasis this year on the parents and the new, incoming parents as well because your first time with band can be overwhelming. This experience is what you make of it and the more you volunteer as a parent, the more connected you are going to be. You really do develop a very strong sense of community.”
The Band Boosters are an integral part of the high school’s band program and assist in every way possible to help students and staff achieve success. The Band Boosters held an ice cream social at Parent Preview Night.
“The Band Boosters are a very dedicated group of parents and volunteers who help the band program by helping with uniform distribution/collection both in the marching and concert seasons, they help with the various fundraisers to help generate funds for the Band Program, bus chaperones for away games, and even a dedicated ‘Pit Crew’ to help load and transport the many instruments, flags, podiums and other pieces of equipment necessary for performances,” Vitale said. “It is a very enthusiastic group, and many members of the Band Boosters and Pit Crew even stay on board after their student has graduated and continue to volunteer. We appreciate the efforts of all the boosters and this year enthusiastically welcome a new ‘freshman class’ of parents to the organization.”
As proud family members looked to their children performing on the field during Parent Preview Night, Vitale explained the band’s maneuvers, processes, drills and counting mechanisms. He also let parents know the top rules of being a NRHS “Band Fan,” including get to games early, wear spirit wear and support and cheer for everyone on the field including the visiting band and cheerleaders.
“I have been teaching here for 16 years, and as a graduate of North Royalton High School, the North Royalton Band program is very special for me, and I am proud to be continuing the band program as a ‘Tradition of Excellence,’ Vitale said. “We have a tremendous staff of directors, advisors, boosters and administrators who are very supportive and help contribute to the Band Program’s success. With the start of each school year, numerous students, parents and fellow teachers have commented that when they hear the marching band practicing in August, they can’t help but get excited and energized for the beginning of a new school year.”
In addition to Friday night football games, the marching band will perform their competition show on Sept. 15 during the North Royalton Festival of Bands, which showcases a variety of marching bands from around the area, Vitale said. The Lexington Competition is Sept. 29, Perkins Competition Oct. 6 and Copley Competition Oct. 13, Vitale said. The season will culminate, hopefully Vitale says, with the band qualifying to perform at the OMEA State Marching Band Finals in late October.

Contributing Writer