BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee High School band director Eric Boswell understands what high school kids deal with every day, especially as it relates to bullying.
“I have seen kids go through rough times,” he said. “I’ve seen the worst of that experience and I’ve seen kids survive it and I’ve seen kids have a rough time from it.”
To empower students with important coping strategies, Boswell turned to what he knows best – music.
“I want them to know through our musical performance that there is a voice for them,” he said. “Sometimes when you are 15 it’s hard to see 30 and the stress about school, home life or whatever can be a lot for them.”
This year’s band competition performance, titled “Here,” focuses on the issue of bullying.
“First, the most important thing is to get the message to our band students and hopefully to the audience and everybody else – that we hear you and we are here for you,” Boswell said.
The performance is divided into three segments, the first two are by composer Gary Gilroy and the third movement is from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, about a boy who wants to fit in.
The percussion feature is meant to mimic a texting sequence so it sounds like multiple text messages going off. The idea, according to Boswell, is that a girl is the target of a flurry of text messages among her peers.
“Unfortunately, this is what often happens in high school,” Boswell said.
By end of the show, the band has come around and integrated her into their group. The show’s ending is soft and quiet.
Boswell began planning the show last year and is hopeful that it will become a beacon for struggling kids.
Maumee Band Parents Organization president Michelle Kiser fully supports Boswell’s effort. In fact, together they decided that the issue is so important, more could be done to raise awareness and support struggling youth.
To help, the band has initiated a bracelet fundraiser to benefit organizations that address issues like bullying, suicide, depression and more. Each bracelet for sale has the words “We hear you, we are here for you” inscribed on it.
“We want to let the kids know that we hear what they are telling us and we are here to help them through whatever it is that they are dealing with,” Kiser said.
The band moms and dads tend to catch up on what is going on, and as caring adults they wanted to do something to be proactive, Boswell said.
“Our outlet is music, that’s what keeps us going. We want to use that as our voice,” Boswell said. “We are a little bit of everything – we’re one of the more diverse groups.”
There are 56 high school students in the marching band and 10 participate in concert band.
The Marching Pride performs at all football games. “Here” will be performed at all of the away games and at four competitions on the following Saturdays: September 15 at Springfield High School, September 29 at The Ohio State University, October 6 at Maumee High School’s Music in Motion and October 13 at Swanton High School.
Boswell also hopes to advance the show to state competition.