The Lynchburg-Clay Marching Mustangs earned the highest possible rating at the 2022 Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) State Marching Band Finals recently at Alexander Stadium in Piqua. This marked back-to-back state finals in consecutive school years for the Marching Mustangs, with the OMEA giving them a Superior (I) rating for this year’s performance, “Under the Moonlight.”
“I am continually impressed by the quality of work these students put into each rehearsal. Our Superior rating at state really proves that hard work pays off, but not always immediately. Delayed gratification is an important life skill, and they haven’t been working on this for just the last four months; most of these students have been in band since they were in sixth grade learning how to play their instruments,” said Paul McCalla, the band’s director.
To be eligible for state finals, the band must receive a final rating of Superior (I) for at least one performance during the season. The OMEA guidebook defines Superior as an outstanding performance with very few technical errors and exemplifying a truly musical expression. This rating is reserved for a truly outstanding performance.
This season, the Marching Mustangs qualified for the state finals by receiving two Superior ratings in a row at events at Shawnee and Tecumseh high schools in October. McCalla said that, “The band has placed in the top two at every contest this year and at Shawnee earned the highest score in school history.”
The Marching Mustangs Color Guard is directed by Brittney Balon.
“To say I am proud of this group is an understatement. These students have worked since band camp in July learning and perfecting the routine,” Balon said. “They have spent countless hours after school putting in the work. They have truly shown what it means to work hard and have dedication for something they love. I can’t express how proud I am of the students, and to be a part of this wonderful program.”
The Marching Mustangs perform under the field direction of drum major Karlee Burns, a senior at Lynchburg-Clay High School.
“I am incredibly grateful to be a part of such an amazing group of talented people that I consider family. I am so proud of the band and of all our accomplishments this season, and of all the hard work we put into our show. Ending the season with a superior rating is the best way to end my senior year, especially having the amazing opportunity to be drum major,” Burns said. “I hope the band has great success in the future and continues to do great things. I know they are all capable of it.”
McCalla added, “I am excited for what the rest of this year holds for these students, and the future of the Marching Mustangs. This year’s seniors have been an amazing leadership group since day one, and they are leaving some big shoes to be filled.”
The Marching Mustangs compete in Class C and have 42 members in grades 8-12 who represent the Lynchburg-Clay school system and their community. Their success comes not only from hundreds of hours of practice, but also from the outstanding support they received from the community.
“Many hands make light work, is a phrase I often use, and it doesn’t only apply to the students,” McCalla said. “The achievements of the band wouldn’t be possible without the instructional staff, the parents and parent volunteers, the grounds and maintenance staff who paint the field or lend a hand when necessary, and the administration that gives the support we need to be successful. The bus drivers, the individuals who donate meals, and the many other student organizations who we share students with. Thank you to Kay Tyler and the LC Music Boosters for helping with countless activities, including planning meals, fundraising and organizing shirt sales. Our 6.5-minute performance takes so much more work than you may believe, and that work is getting done at Lynchburg-Clay.”
This story was written by John Wylie and submitted by Paul McCalla, music teacher, Lynchburg Clay Local Schools.