Maplewood band

Members of the 2021 Maplewood High School Marching Band are seen performing. Maplewood is one of six bands that will be performing this weekend at the Maplewood band’s ‘October Overtures’ event.

GUYS MILLS—It takes hours and hours of training, rehearsing and hard work to take a group of musicians and turn them into a successful marching band.

There is band camp, practices and sporting events — all times where the musicians work on their craft.

On Saturday, all the hard work and dedication will be put on display as six area marching bands, including Titusville, Maplewood, Warren, Meadville, Saegertown and Cambridge Springs come together for the annual “October Overtures” event, being held on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. at the Maplewood home field.

The return of the event, Maplewood’s home band festival, is a welcomed sight for band director Jamie Gardner. Gardner said in an email to The Herald that his students   “have been very excited to perform and have brought a lot of energy to our performances.”

He is proud of his band’s previous performances in competitions, and feels that they will build off their success at their home festival.

“Despite being one of the smallest bands in the area, Maplewood has had an incredibly successful start to their 2021 competitive season,” said Gardner.

Last year’s event was one of the few times that the band was able to play in front of a large audience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many marching bands lost opportunities to show what they had learned.

This season has looked more normal than that of last year, but there have still been challenges the band has had to go through.

 “So far we have been very fortunate to have a normal start to our season,” said Gardner, “We have had some adversity with students missing shows due to quarantine but fortunately, the entire band or school has not been shut down and the remaining students stepped up to still give us award-winning performances.”

This Saturday is an opportunity to show the community all the hard work that the students have put in to perfect their routines.

For months the band has been practicing, getting together even before school started for band camp, and they hope the public appreciates all they have put in.

When asked what all goes into creating a successful marching band, Gardner said qualities needed are hard work, collaboration, sympathy, determination, trust and effort.

“The modern day competitive marching band is way more involved than what past band participants might remember,” said Gardner. “It is very physical, grueling, and mind focus intensive. In addition to the music, we train the students as athletes with daily conditioning through dynamic stretching to prevent injuries and physical training.”

Besides the work on the musical side, the band also has to choreograph, making everyone fit into their formations like puzzle pieces.

Gardner said that his band incorporates elements of dance and ballet into conditioning and training.

“This all takes a lot of hours of commitment on the part of the students,” he said.

The event also gives local band members a chance to see what other bands are doing, maybe even showing how they can improve. When you get so many musicians in one place, the imagination and innovation that comes is something that can inspire.

“(Our kids) learn to appreciate others’ hard work and dedication and get to see all the creativity in other programs,” said Gardner.

Every band plays to their strengths, and their performances will have some noticeable differences.

After each of the six bands gets a chance to show what they’ve got, the show will end with an “Olympic Style Retreat” where the bands will line up across the field, and peel off and march off the field. Gardner said that the reatreat has become a real fan favorite.

This Saturday the creativity and hard work will all be on show, and everyone is hoping for good weather and a good time.

To make the event a success, Gardner wants to see “good weather, successful performances and cameraderie of all the bands.” The event is a fundraiser for the band, and helps fund many of the things they do throughout the year.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, and there will be concessions.

Dvorkin can be reached by email at

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