Dedication equals marching band summer practice

Published 10:53 am Monday, August 13, 2012

The Oak Mountain High School Marching Band practices on a hot summer evening in Indian Springs. (contributed)

By DALE BRAKHAGE / Community Columnist

Silence. Nothing moves. In a moment, faint echoes of their music reverberate down Cahaba Valley.

It is a sweltering hot summer night. Sweat runs into their eyes and soaks their clothes, but they don’t budge. It is like someone planted 205 teenage statues on this grassy field in Indian Springs.

A few quiet voices whisper, “A little to your right,” or “Check the line,” or “Horns up.” Silence. Stillness.

“Good! Back to the beginning,” blares a loudspeaker with the voice of Kevin Ownby, the new director of bands at Oak Mountain High School.

Pandemonium is the impression the next seconds as everyone on the field hustles to a different place. Even this, however, is highly organized. Then, silence. Stillness, until a sharp whistle is followed by an immense wave of powerful music that seems to push the air away! This is the Spirit of Cahaba Oak Mountain Marching Band!

If you have never seen a marching band during summer practice, you would be amazed at the activity on the field.

“These students practice for 140 hours as a group before school even starts,” Ownby said. “Additionally, the marching band students must work outside of rehearsal to master their instruments and have their music memorized.”

During school, the band practices together at least one hour every day.

Their dedicated work pays off. Fans cheer this band at every football game and concert. Last year, under the direction of James Duren and Ownby, the Oak Mountain Band won best in Class 4A and Best Overall Band at the Homewood Marching Competition and the Hoover Marching Invitational.

Duren retired last year after 39 years as band director for Oak Mountain, Pelham and Mountain Brook. He is assisting with rehearsals this year.

Ownby was associate director of bands for eight years before becoming director in 2012. Travis Bender now serves as associate director. They will lead the hard-working band members to more impressive performances and competition awards in the years ahead.

Thank you Sarah Sanders, Oak Mountain High School junior and yearbook photographer, for taking the photograph accompanying this column.


Dale Brakhage writes a weekly column about Indian Springs and its residents. You can reach him at