[bksvol-discuss] OT: Ohio School for the Blind Marching Band heads to Rose parade; and ACB Radio World to provide coverage.

  • From: "Lynn I" <lynnskyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Dec 2009 16:58:23 -0600

I sent the following the the BKS discussion list by replying to the original
message I received and putting in the new recipient (Bookshare Discussion
list). What I discovered was that it changed the font. The message is in
it's original font, but words I inserted are in my e-mail programs choice of
font. Bet that looks pretty weird. This time, I copied and pasted. *smile*
Hope this looks and reads okay.

Below is an article about the Ohio School for the Blind marching band which
will be performing in the Rose Parade.
ACB Radio will be streaming the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2010.
The coverage will begin at 15:30 UTC which is 10:30 A.M eastern and 7:30 A.M
The coverage will be streamed on ACB Radio world.
Ken Metz will be providing the coverage from the home & garden TV booth.
Also there will be full audio description provided on the stream so you
won't miss a single movement in the parade!
Date: Friday January 1, 2010.
 Start time: 15:30 UTC 10:30 A.M eastern and 7:30 A.M pacific.
Where: ACB Radio World
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Ohio blind marching band
heads to Rose parade
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - "I used to have an old car that sounded like that when
it started," the marching band director says. "Urr, urr, urr, blatt."
The players crack up, throwing their heads back and having a good laugh at
Dan Kelley is always saying things like that to his players. They sound like
an Amtrak train going off a cliff, they sound like a car engine dying, that
note sounded like a giant, wet splat when it should sound like the surf
rolling onto the beach.
"It's audio imagery," he says. "I wanna keep it loose, too. I've got kind of
a stern voice. If I say, 'I want this, I want that' all the time, I feel
like I lose them because they feel like they're not doing it right."
The 32 blind players, 36 volunteer marching assistants, two band directors
and one music assistant really, really want to do it right. The Ohio State
School for the Blind Marching Panthers are going to Pasadena, Calif., to
march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day. They'll be the
parade's first blind marching band. The smallest band, too.
The invitation to march came more than a year ago, giving plenty of time to
practice. It's also plenty of time to ponder a tough question: Are we OK
with being famous because we're blind?
Kelley believes in gentle honesty, but honesty nonetheless.
This is going to be hard. Six miles is a long way, longer than the parades
they've marched in to prepare for Pasadena. In the past year, they've been
playing and playing and playing. Performances in Lancaster, at churches, in
Cincinnati, at the Ohio State University skull session and in the
Circleville Pumpkin Festival parade.
Practice has not made perfect. That's the honest truth.
Eleven band members have perfect pitch (hearing them hum during
marching-only practice is beautiful enough to make you hold your breath).
But when they pick up their tattered and battered and borrowed instruments,
not every note is hit just-so.
Having perfect pitch "doesn't mean you have the finesse you need. It doesn't
mean you have the articulation skills you need," says Carol Agler, the blind
school's music director and co-director of the band. She turns no one away
who signs up to play at the beginning of the year. No auditions are
required, just desire.
It hasn't made a lick of difference to the audiences who have heard the
blind band play.
The typical response: They leap to their feet, clapping wildly, some with
tears in their eyes. Amazing! Unbelievable! Inspiring!
For the players, though, the experience is different. They want perfection,
or near it. They are teenagers, after all, and they occasionally have bad
attitudes and bicker at one another. So-and-so shouldn't get to go to
Pasadena; he hasn't tried hard enough. He's playing the wrong notes. She's
spreading rumors.
They have a lot of questions. Practices sound like a bustling cocktail
party, with everyone lining up with the marching assistants who will guide
them through the 5.5-mile parade route and a 12-minute halftime show in
which they'll perform their signature: Script Ohio, in Braille. The
twice-weekly practices after school and three-a-week band classes go too
By the time Kelley scoots all the players through the side door at the
school and into marching formation, the sun has set and the air is sharp
with cold. His whistle tweets, and the band comes to attention. At his
signal, they honk out Military Escort, one of two songs they'll play in the
first mile of the parade.
The other is Superstition by Stevie Wonder.
Some of the marching assistants - they can see, because, as Kelley points
out, keeping straight lines is a "visual thing" - stand beside their student
and sling an arm across his or her shoulders. Others prefer to guide from
behind, walking like Frankenstein's monster with one hand on each of the
student's shoulders.
This is seriously taxing work. A few of the students have limited sight;
they can see shapes or figures or have some light perception. Many see
nothing. So, once the Marching Panthers make their way onto the school track
for a mock parade route, the workout begins for the assistants. Pushing,
pulling, steering.  This is why there are more assistants than band members.
You wear out after a while.
The two songs sound over and over as the band makes five or six laps. In the
pitch dark.
There are no floodlights around the track and field. Why bother with
something you don't really need?
The farthest the band has marched is 4 miles. The students won't make it to
6 until they're in uniform and in California.
"If you can march 4 miles, you can march six," Kelley says.
Excitement (and a heap of nerves) has been building in the weeks leading up
to the trip. Hotel rooms and chaperones have been assigned; someone donated
cool sunglasses, and those have been passed out. Rules and travel tips -
keep a firm grip on your belongings, mind your manners - have been laid out.
Kelley has reminded everyone, more than once, that they're representing the
Ohio State School for the Blind, the Ohio School for the Deaf, and the
entire darned state of Ohio while they're out west. People are about to see
exactly what blind musicians can do.
"Even if they don't want to admit it, one of the reasons people say it's
amazing is because we're blind," says Whitney Hammond, a 15-year-old who
plays bass drum.
It's fair to say there's been a bit of discord among players as the band has
become a public phenomenon. They put on their red-white-and-blue uniforms
and march on, but the question of why they're so well-received really gnawed
at some of the kids.
News crews from CBS, a Los Angeles CW network affiliate and local TV
stations have stopped in with their cameras. Writers from national magazines
and just about every local paper have hung around.
"It's really easy to say we're a unique story, a human-interest story. We're
all that," Kelley says.
At the beginning of this school year, with the Rose Bowl months away and
months of sweat and tears and bickering well behind them, something
happened. The players started to make peace with the why.
"Now, we think it's because we're doing something good," Hammond explains at
the last practice before the trip. Every player and marching assistant is on
deck to, as Kelley says, make the practice count.
"We said, 'No, we're actually doing work. We're working.' We have style,"
she says.
"There's nothing amazing about a blind person walking and playing an
instrument with a guide," Kelley says. "I ask the kids to reflect on that
kind of thing, and what they want to get out of it. And not focus on
'They're just taking us because we're a blind band."'
Macy McClain, a 19-year-old who has played piccolo and flute for the band,
thinks it is doing good by sending a message.
"I just think there are some people who don't understand what truly blind
people can do. Blind people go to college, have jobs - do things sighted
people can do," she says.
That's the right thinking, Kelley says.
"My philosophy is there's never been a bigger audience than what we're going
to go out and play for. For me, it's getting people around the country to
see that these kids have talent. I don't care about abilities and
disabilities, blindness or whatever. They're out here marching."
The 32 musicians, 36 marching assistants, two directors and music assistant
were scheduled to march onto a plane Monday. Then, they'll do exhibition
shows, the halftime show and 2½ hours of marching.
Kelley will boom, "We proudly present the Ohio State School for the Blind
Marching Panthers!" and the banner with their name in Braille will start
The players won't see the crowd, but its reaction will be easy to read.
Amazing. Unbelievable. Inspiring.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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