As football season gears up, Greenbrier High School's marching band is preparing to expose the elements - Earth, Wind and Fire - during half-time shows this season.
Band members will perform hits of the American funk band under a new director - Michael Katterjohn.
"I think it's good to have a change," said senior Ashleigh Riddle, one of the band's four drum majors.
Tom Smallwood, the band's only director in its 10-year history, passed the baton to Katterjohn after accepting an assistant principal position at Riverside Middle School.
Katterjohn is not new to Greenbrier High's band. He spent two years as assistant director under Smallwood. Brian Toney, a six-year band-directing veteran, replaced Katterjohn as assistant director.
"That's what made the transition so easy," Katterjohn said. "The transition has been really good. The kids have been real responsive to both Mr. Toney, the new assistant, and they are working just as hard for me as they were for Mr. Smallwood. We're having a good year so far."
Riddle said band members are adjusting well to Katterjohn's easy-going style as opposed to Smallwood's regimented teaching and rehearsal methods.
"I definitely had a little bit more structure," Smallwood said, adding that he is sure Katterjohn and Toney will lead the band to another successful year. "He's definitely a little bit more laid back than I am."
Toney moved to Columbia County from Pennsylvania - where he directed a band half the size of Greenbrier's - only a week before school began and he's still getting settled into his home and into his new position.
"I've enjoyed getting to know some of the kids here and kind of adapting, too," Toney said. "They have been pretty good. We've been blessed with some great students here and I'm looking forward to working with them."
Riddle said students are adjusting to Toney's new teaching methods.
"But it is good to have him to be young," Riddle said, adding that he is popular among the band members. "He has new things that we are starting to use in the classroom, teaching us. Sometimes, tradition isn't always the best."
Katterjohn is a 25-year band directing veteran who came to Greenbrier after 10 years at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. He said the assistant job let him stay in the background, but as director, he'd do whatever he needed to run a tight ship.
Katterjohn said his stint as assistant made the transition much easier and that his first band camp as director went well.
"I was a little leery of what the drum majors would think because they are used to it done a certain way, again by Mr. Smallwood," Katterjohn said. " But they were pleased with how it went and how I did it. It was probably again more laid back, but we still got work done and accomplished as much as we did in the past."
Katterjohn intermingled with the band during most of Tuesday's first after-school marching practice, adjusting the marching drill to accommodate new students. The band's first performance is Sept. 1, where it will premier the Earth, Wind and Fire show. For the first time, the Greenbrier band will head onto the field without Smallwood.
"It'll be weird the first Friday night not to be loading up buses and going down to Westside," Smallwood said, adding that he'll definitely be going to see the band's show this season when he has the chance.
"That's a fact. There's no doubt about that. I want the kids to be their best when I come and see them, so they can put on a great show for my first one to see. So I may wait a game or two just to make sure they've got the whole show on the field."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.