2018-08-06 / Front Page

Green Devil Marching Band prepares for season

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Members of the Brown City High School Green Devils marching band were put through their paces at last week’s band camp by band director Liz Rayba (inset at left). Members of the Brown City High School Green Devils marching band were put through their paces at last week’s band camp by band director Liz Rayba (inset at left). BROWN CITY — The 34-member Green Devil Marching Band drilled hard last week and had fun doing it.

Long-time Band Director Liz Rayba put the musicians and flag corps through their new 2018 routine during the weeklong band camp held last week at the high school. The students worked through the summer heat, putting in days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to hone their skills before the start of their new marching season.

“Our theme this year is ‘Battle of the Boy Bands,’ said Rayba. “We will be featuring three songs, ‘Best Song Ever’ by One Direction, ‘Larger than Life’ by the Backstreet Boys, and ‘Bye, Bye, Bye,’ by NSync.”

Liz Rayba Liz Rayba The soft-voiced Rayba exercises remarkable discipline over her crew of energetic teens in their pursuit of musical excellence and marching precision. Yet, she is careful to lighten things up for the kids, employing devices such as theme days, dress-up days, crazy hat day, and special treats, all designed to help weld her students into a cohesive marching unit.

“I’m a big believer in esprit de corps,” said Rayba, herself arrayed in a sillylooking straw hat adorned with a big green plume. “Be sure and write that this is for crazy hat day and not my regular wardrobe,” she laughed.

Rayba exudes school spirit and encourages it in her students. She presents a spirit award every day of band camp for every section of the band.

“We also, at the end of camp week, at 4 p.m. on Friday, hold a performance on the practice field behind the junior/senior high school, for parents and family members. There, we award one student for outstanding spirit for the whole week,” said Rayba.

Some of the treats band members got to enjoy were dinner together, along with their parents, Thursday night at La Fonda’s, and a trip to the ice cream shop on Friday.

Rayba is always looking for ways to expand the band’s activities beyond the school auditorium and the football field. For example, last week, weatherpermitting, the band was to hold an impromptu concert in the parking lot of Ben’s Supercenter, and the band regularly takes part in Brown City parades and other special events. Its soloists and ensembles, and frequently the entire band, add a patriotic flair to observances honoring our nation and its veterans.

Brown City Mayor Julie Miller said of the marching band, “I think it’s awesome. Besides marching at games, they march in our parades and participate in our veterans’ activities. Liz is an awesome band director. She and the band really add to the quality of life in our community.”

Rayba said that band members are actively raising funds in order to purchase needed replacement instruments, and also to pay for their trip to Chicago next spring.

“We intend not only to see some of the city, but also to attend a Broadway musical while we are there,” said Rayba.

Though Rayba is entering her 25th year as the band director at Brown City Schools, it is clear she has lost none of her passion for teaching music.

“As a teacher,” said Rayba, “my goals are to teach music to students so they can be successful musicians, performers, individuals, critical thinkers, and team players. Music can be a part of your life at any stage, and I want my students to be able to keep music in their life well after they graduate.”

Under Rayba’s direction the high school band has received numerous awards and recognition. Last year, the high school band received a First Division rating at the district band festival. It went on to perform at the state festival where it received a Second Division rating.

Originally from Mayville, Rayba, at age 10, moved to Ann Arbor where she graduated high school. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Education from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Music Education from Kent State University.

“Up until the time I was a senior in high school,” said Rayba, “I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. When it came time to apply for colleges, I had an epiphany: if I was going to med school, when was I going to have time for my music? I realized at that moment that music was the one thing in my life that I couldn’t live without, so I decided to become a music teacher.

“Music has always been a part of my life. I enjoy listening to it. I enjoy performing it, and I enjoy teaching it.”

Rayba can play all sorts of musical instruments, something she does regularly with the band throughout the school year, but her main instruments are French horn and piano.

“Music is a way to express and feel emotion in ways no other art form can,” said Rayba. “It is also an avenue to become part of something bigger than yourself. You can be in an ensemble with many different types of people and still work together toward a common goal.

“There’s a quote I love so much that one of my graduating classes painted it on a ceiling tile in my office for me: ‘Music is not what I do — it’s who I am.’ I cannot picture my life without all of the experiences I’ve had as a musician or all that I have learned from music.”

Rayba said of her long career at Brown City, “This is my first job, and I intend to stay here until I retire. I know it’s where I’m meant to be!”

Liz and Steve, her husband of 21 years, have five children that all graduated from Brown City Schools. The couple has six grandchildren and one greatgrandchild.

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