FNL: A bittersweet end

There’s no denying that the band makes up part of this school’s identity, being so well known across Ohio, but what does being a band member really mean? This musical group represents so much more than its upbeat music and radical drum solos.

Friday Night Live (FNL) took place Nov. 16-19 at 7 p.m. It is a night where the band can show the Olentangy community what it has been working so hard on all year. Cox stresses that the show isn’t about the band itself, but the people who have remained supportive of them and their journey throughout the season.

“FNL is supposed to give back to the community. [It’s] for people who didn’t get to go to the [football] games and for people who really like watching the band to make them smile,” junior band member Ava Brothers said.

On top of FNL, the band has a lot of music and other performances to prep for, which means hours upon hours of practice in brutally cold weather and sweltering summers.

“For the students, we do set builds on the weekends, which go all day. Practices go from after school to like 8 p.m. or sometimes 5 to 10:30 p.m. so it’s a lot of time,” Brothers said.

Preparation for FNL starts the year before so for the band, it’s a huge motivator throughout the season, a goal to work towards to keep members focused. When the day finally comes, FNL becomes a reminder that hard work indeed pays off and can be rewarding in the end.

“As soon as the last FNL ended, we started throwing ideas out there for the next one. We pieced the ideas together in early spring. The goal is to share all of the music that we’ve played throughout the year,” Band Director Dr. Ishbah Cox said.

For seniors however, FNL is a little different. It’s the last performance they’ll have in their high school band career. Close to the end of their performance, the band honors the seniors’ commitment by playing a PowerPoint presentation to properly send them off. “FNL definitely meant more being the last performance I’d ever do as a Pioneer. This year it was bittersweet,” Rahim said.

Even though the performance marks the end for seniors, it is also an opportunity for the high school to support the up and coming middle school band members. So despite the emotional farewell, the audience can’t help but smile as the middle scholars remind it of the bright future to come.

“It [FNL] allows us to connect to our middle school, which is the future of the program, which is very important,” Dr. Cox said. In the end, even when the final note is played and the last beat is drummed, the band is family. No matter if one is a freshman, senior or even an audience member, one can feel it. The overwhelming sensation of the love and gratitude the band members have for each other, their director and the people who came to support them.

“The band is a very tight knit group that I’ve become so accustomed to that being without them is going to take some getting used to. I’m truly going to miss being a part of the big orange band family,” senior band member Rodaba Rahim said.

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