Ian Crouse has been spending a lot of time at the Ohio State Fair.
The Dublin Scioto High School junior is part of the All-Ohio State Fair Band, spending two weeks at the fair performing, practicing and having fun in his down time.
Crouse was one of 200 high school musicians from throughout the state who reported to the fairgrounds July 20 to start practices.
"The first few days were really busy," he said last week after a performance at the fair.
"They call it 'hell week,' " Crouse said.
"You get really tired," he said.
"There are a lot of rehearsals, but it's still fun playing a bunch of music."
For the State Fair Band, Crouse had to learn 50 pieces of music for concert shows and 25 pieces of music for marching.
"A lot of it is really challenging," he said.
"Some of it is fun and easy, but some is really hard and it took me a couple tries to get it."
Crouse has been playing musical instruments since the fifth grade and was named first chair for the euphonium section in the State Fair Band.
Although he started out on the clarinet, Crouse plays the contrabass tuba with the Scioto High School Marching Band and trombone in the jazz band.
He also joined the Dublin Wind Symphony last year and has taught himself to play the alto saxophone.
"Euphonium is my main instrument, so I applied for that here," he said.
Getting into the All-Ohio State Fair Band required an application highlighting Crouse's achievements in music and a recommendation from a band teacher.
"I found out about this last year," he said of the band.
"I went to the fair and saw people with instruments and asked them about it.
"It looked cool and it looked like they were having fun."
When Crouse came in as the first chair in his first year, he met with a little skepticism, but that has gone away.
"I didn't expect it," he said. "I was really surprised and people were surprised.
"But then I started playing and they weren't as surprised."
Even though the days require getting up by 7:15 a.m. each morning and a lot of work, Crouse has decided he'll apply for the band again next summer.
"I've met people from all over the state and I'm meeting new friends," he said.
"We live in hallways filled with bunk beds. We're like a family."
Crouse's new family even helped him celebrate his birthday.
"Band people are really nice," he said.
"My birthday was on Wednesday and they were all saying happy birthday to me," Crouse said.
"They're always complimenting me on a solo I have and they give you advice. ... They're helping out everyone."
Along with meeting new friends, the All-Ohio State Fair Band is helping to get Crouse ready for the marching band season.
The Scioto Marching Band is set to head to band camp Aug. 10.
"I'm getting used to waking up early," Crouse said.
"I'm a squad leader for the Scioto Marching Band so I'll have to go in at 7:45 a.m. to work with the director and teach new kids at 8:30 a.m.
Getting used to the long hours is always good preparation for endurance."