The influence of two former directors is evident in shows being performed this fall by both the Westland and Franklin Heights high school marching bands.
Mark Fox, who directed Franklin Heights' band from 1990 through 2015, wrote the arrangements for the band's competition program this year and former WHS band director Shane Kelbley wrote the music for that group's contest show.
This is the fifth consecutive season the Westland band has produced a contest show featuring all original music.
"It's really great for us because he's (Kelbley) composing music expressly for the Westland band and is able to arrange it to match our strengths and weaknesses," band director Suzie Kim said. "It's neat because of his ties to our schools. He's seen the band program through its best times and its worst times, because he was here when we had some levy failures."
The show, "Invictus," is based on the poem by English poet William Ernest Henley.
"It's an inspirational poem about overcoming obstacles and barriers in your life," Kim said.
The WHS band will participate this season in OMEA contests at Logan Elm, Canal Winchester, Grove City, Westerville Central and Bloom-Carroll high schools, she said.
"The competitions are a big area of focus for us, as it is for all of the schools in our district," Kim said.
This season, 126 students are participating in the WHS band.
"It's one of the largest bands we've had in the six years I've been director," Kim said. "We've got a good blend of students who are really talented, both in marching and musical skills."
Westland held its band camp July 30-Aug. 3 at Fort Hill Christian Youth Camp in Hillsboro.
Just as important as practicing music is the bonding that takes place during band camp, Kim said.
"Being able to go away as a group for a week without distractions is really a good thing," she said. "We can come together as a unit. Our season is six months long, and if we're not getting along as a unit, it's going to be a long and difficult season."
Director Mark Sturm said the 94 Franklin Heights band members and 15 color guard members had little time off during the summer.
"When school let out, we started right away with some rehearsals for the Westland Area Parade, which is held pretty early in the summer on June 24," he said. "We rehearsed two times a week up until the parade."
After that, students had a few weeks off "but then it was time to get ready for band camp," Sturm said.
Band camp was held July 30-Aug. 4, but before that, there were precamp sessions.
"It just gives the students a chance to not only get back into marching condition, but to get used again to holding their instruments," Sturm said.
Franklin Heights' band camp was held for the 12th year at Rio Grande University, he said.
"It's a great facility with a lot of activities the kids can do, like a pool, and the dorms are air-conditioned, which helps during the summer heat," Sturm said.
Band camp may only last a week, but the marching band makes rapid progress in learning the coming season's music, he said.
"We're having five or six hours of practice a day, instead of just an hour or an hour and 10 minutes each day during the school year," Sturm said. "It gives our students the chance to focus solely on the band."
Having an active summer is a benefit for the band, he said.
"I think it helps keep the students sharp. They're not just laying down their instruments all summer. We can hit the ground running at band camp."
The FHHS band will compete in seven local competitions this fall as part of the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) circuit.
"If you earn a superior rating in any one of those competitions, you earn a place in the state finals," Sturm said. "The Franklin Heights band has qualified for the state finals every year since 1992 and we've earned a superior rating at the finals each year since 2004. It's been quite a nice run for our band."
This year, the FHHS band's halftime performances will feature its competition show, divided into two parts, he said.
"Into the Good Night" is inspired by the Dylan Thomas poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," Sturm said.
"It may sound a little heavy, but we always like to entertain our audience, so our competition show is designed to be really entertaining," he said.
The band will use formations and flags with stars to depict the Van Gogh painting, "Starry Night" during its performance, Sturm said.
The featured music includes "Fly by Night" by Rush; a medley of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars;" "Enter Sandman" by Metallica and "Vincent," the song about Van Gogh written by Don McLean.