Tuesday, October 28

Blind marching band

Greetings. The following was posted to an email list. I love reading and posting stories like this to this blog. It's these kinds of stories that get my blood flowing and provide another side to what the average person considers blindness to be. Enjoy!

Blind marching band and the Tournament of Roses Parade

Members of the Ohio State School for the Blind marching band react to
News that their band has been invited to the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The entire student body was in the gym when the surprise announcement was heard.

The band's trip to Pasadena, Calif., will cost about $1,500 per person.

Donations can be sent to the Ohio State School for the Blind

Parent-Teacher-Staff Organization, 5220 N. High St., Columbus 43214 The

entire student body had been herded into the gym to sing The

Star-Spangled Banner, which was video- recorded for a school project.

That was pretty cool, in itself -- several of the roughly 120 students at the Ohio State School for the Blind have perfect pitch, so it wasn't your

average school-choir rendition.

What happened next was even cooler: Music director Carol Agler's cell

Phone rang and the crowd went quiet. She held the microphone to the phone's earpiece as a man, calling from California, invited the school's

marching band to join the 2010 Rose Parade.

You'd have thought Paris Hilton or the Jonas Brothers had just walked

in -- that's how loud the screaming was.

"Congratulations, and we look forward to seeing you all," said Gary Di-

Sano, the parade's president in 2010.

The Rose Parade, which features flowers-only floats and takes place in

Pasadena, Calif., each New Year's Day, has never hosted a blind marching

band. In fact, Agler said she doesn't know of another one in the


Right now, there are only 17 band members, plus about as many sighted

marching assistants who help them stay in formation.

"I think this will generate more kids in the band," said Agler, who

co-directs the band with another teacher, Dan Kelley. They've got a year

to whip the band into shape and to raise money for the cross-country trip.

Band members likely will practice marching on the school's campus and

Even on one of the gym's treadmills. The parade route is about 6 miles and

Will take about two hours to march, a grind the band isn't used to.

"I'm nervous, but I'm excited, too. It's gonna be hard, but we're gonna

Get through it," said Bria Goshay, a 15-year-old snare drummer from


The band was formed in 2005 and played its first full season with about

20 members in 2006. Its uniforms are castoffs from another high school that got new ones.

During a regular season, the band plays for an audience a handful of

times: at deaf-school football games, at a Dublin high-school pregame show, at the Ohio State University Skull Session in St. John Arena. The band recently marched in a Circleville Pumpkin Show parade.

Twenty-one bands from across the country have been booked for the Rose

Parade, said music committee chairwoman Stacy Houser. Two others,

Pickerington Central High School and Ohio University, are from Ohio.

"A blind marching band is such an incredibly unique thing," she said.

"We're hoping it'll be an inspiration throughout the country."

Bands are chosen using several criteria, including marching and musical

ability, uniqueness and overall talent.

Macy McClain, who plays the flute and piccolo in the band, likened the

Honor to being on American Idol.

"Except you don't have to stand in line," she said.

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