GREENUP, Ill. — At age 62, Barb Ozier fits right in with the Cumberland High School band.
The mother of the high school’s band director, she’s played trumpet at every home football game this season.
“She helps fill out the sound and adds another body,” said Band Director Blake Ozier.
“I enjoy it,” Barb Ozier said. “I’ll do it as long as they need bodies.”
With only 16 students in band this year, Barb, a retired band director herself, marches along with the students who are more than 40 years her junior. Her band director son, 30, plays trombone alongside the students.
“At some point, I just want to be in the background,” he said. “I want the band to get big enough to where I can supervise, but it’s student-run. That’s when they take pride in things.”
Because of high turnover with music teachers in the Cumberland district, Blake Ozier said music classes have seen low enrollments. But now in his third year with the district, Ozier has seen a promising trend.
In his sixth grade band class, for example, he had 11 students his first year. The next year, he had 16. Now he has 25 in that class.
“The kids are starting to trust me,” Blake Ozier said.
Eventually, he’d like his high school band to include about 50 students. But he knows that will take time.
“To stay here for 20 years is what it would take to make this a big program again,” Blake Ozier said.
Life as a band director for a small program can be tough, Blake Ozier said. He can’t be too demanding, or a student might quit. But he also wants to push the band to sound its best.
He often calls his mother for advice.
“I call her all the time and talk for hours about stuff,” Blake Ozier said.
His mother, who went to Cumberland High School, knows what he’s going through. She directed a short-staffed band at Cerro Gordo, a town with about 1,400 residents, for 30 years.
“I would almost go into a depression with my kids graduating,” Barb Ozier said. “But the next classes, they always step up. They know they need to.”
On Sept. 16, the Cumberland High School football team trotted off the field with a 30-6 lead at halftime. In the steady rain, the band, in black and powder blue uniforms, walked onto the track to perform.
Though it’s a band with three football players, two dancers, a cheerleader, a retired band director, and a current one, the band played as one.
“It’s kind of a spiritual bond in a band,” Barb Ozier said. “You have to even breathe together to play right.”
Source: Effingham Daily News, http://bit.ly/2d69o0N
Information from: Effingham Daily News, http://www.effinghamdailynews.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Effingham Daily News.