Thunder in the Valley awes area residents

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Reverse the curse. You thought that was about baseball? Actually, it’s about Thunder in the Valley, the Naugatuck High School marching band’s home show. After four consecutive years of rain forcing the show indoors, Thunder in the Valley finally saw some sunshine Saturday.

The event hosted eight bands this year, including the United States Coast Guard Windjammers. The NHS Band Parents made the function possible, volunteering their time to help set up and run the show. Band parents ran the concessions stands, directed traffic, and essentially kept the high school from falling to shambles during the show.

The Naugatuck High School marching band entertained Saturday night at Thunder in the Valley, NHS's annual band competition.
The Naugatuck High School marching band entertained Saturday night at Thunder in the Valley, NHS's annual band competition.

As a senior in the marching band, this was my last home show, and my first held outside on the football field where it should be. Although veterans of the band jokingly threatened to hose down the field to keep the curse alive, it has finally been broken—hopefully for good.

For the members of the band, the day started out like any other competition day. Rehearsal was held throughout the afternoon then students were released to eat and dress themselves in uniform. But instead of cramming onto buses, we stayed and were allowed to relax, or in the seniors’ cases, escort other bands to their practice areas and to our field, where they would be performing.

The band room is always a madhouse on completion days, a blur of maroon plumes and white uniforms. The ground is a tricky maze of music stands, baritones, drums, French horns, or whatever happens to be blocking your way. The air smells so strongly of shoe polish and hairspray, one whiff can knock your socks off.

But after we all were dressed finally, we had a brief warmup outside and went on to perform. Since this was our home show, we performed in exhibition only, meaning we would not compete for an award.

And the performance itself? Performing at our own show is unique in that our audience is our hometown crowd. Many band alumni, relatives, teachers, and friends attended this event. It was nice to see how many people I knew had come out to support the marching band. Unlike most sports, our band only has one competition at our school, and one opportunity to prove ourselves to our town.

As tradition requires, the show officially ended when the marching band came back to play one last run-through for all the parents who were generous enough to volunteer during the show, missing the performances of all the bands. It was a nice conclusion to what had been a great home show.

As a sagacious senior (if I may say so myself), I can see now how the dynamics of the band shift and change every year. The band fluctuates in personality, talent level, and student leadership skills. It’s part of the process. New people join and seniors graduate, forming a mini circle of life in itself.

Marching band is more than just band, and more than just marching. More, even, than doing both at the same time. It’s about the experiences shared and the things we learn about music, ourselves, and others. It’s about passion for something you love, and a willingness to work to improve it.

Thunder in the Valley is our chance to prove to the community what a truly great program the marching band is and how hard the members, staff, and parents work to make it so. We had an amazing show this year, and I wish the band best of luck in future years. Reverse the curse!