Otsego band plans to fall off Earth this season

By: 
Ryan Lewis

The Otsego High School Marching Band’s show this season is a bit off—off the Earth, that is.
Band director Mitch Piersma said the theme is “March Off the Earth,” based on the name and music of rock band Walk Off the Earth.
“I was just inspired by their music; and if you watch their videos, they’re a really creative group with some subtle instrumentation that transferred well to arrangements for band,” Piersma said.
He said the show will see a number of non-traditional instruments used for different numbers. That includes 25 members playing ukuleles and percussion members using boomwhackers—lengths of PVC pipe that make different tones when, well, whacked.
“And, at some point, drummers will be sitting on and playing cajons,” Piersma said, which are box-like Peruvian drums played by hand.
“I arrange the music, so I also gravitated toward the songs that used three-part harmonies. That lended itself to interesting instrumentation to perform,” he said.
Two songs, “Rule the World” and I’ll Be Waiting,” are Walk Off the Earth originals; two others were covered by the band, “Little Boxes” and “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
Band parents are hard at work building a variety of boxes for the color guard to stand on and a platform for the sideline.
He said band camp, which wrapped up Friday, Aug. 4, had gone very well despite the rain in the latter half of the week.
“Everyone had a really great attitude, including our drum majors, and that’s infectious to the rest of the band,” he said. “They’re doing a good job of pumping everyone up before rehearsal.”
The band numbers approximately 90 this year, which is slightly fewer than last year. Piersma said that was understandable with nearly 30 graduating last year and only 20 incoming freshmen.
This year’s competitive season gets under way with a show Sept. 23 at Rockford and continues at Otsego’s invitation Sept. 30, a doubleheader on Oct. 14 in Allendale and Grandville, and finally Oct. 21 in Jenison.
“This year’s show is very high energy,” Piersma said. “But it almost doesn’t seem like rock and roll because of the variety of the music. I think there’s something for everybody.”

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