By Sara Barker
KENDALLVILLE — The Marching Knights have a fresh face, and switching from one director to the other has been a seamless transition.
This year, East Noble band director Jason Witzigreuter took over the helm after the departure of former director Bryan Munoz, who left at the end of last school year to take a position with Columbus North bands.
But, taking over after Munoz’s eight-year tenure hasn’t been too big of a challenge for Witzigreuter. After all, the two are friends, and have very similar styles of teaching marching band.
A couple of weeks before he officially stepped into the role in July, Witzigreuter helped with marching rehearsal, just so he could get a feel for the program and the attitude of the kids.
He’d soon find out the work ethic of these high schoolers would make his transition easy.
“They’re a good group of kids, and they’re easy to work with. Really committed,” Witzigreuter said. “They’ve got a lot of experience in knowing how to make a commitment to something and follow through with it. The former director did a really good job with establishing that philosophy with them.”
Witzigreuter said, too, that his and Munoz’s teaching styles are so similar that the students joke with him about it.
The new director is familiar with the area. He went to Snider High School in Fort Wayne and fell in love with music education while he was in the marching band there.
Later, he went on to be the band director at Northrop High School and then the principal at Adams Central High School in Monroe.
Then, he went back to Northrop as the high school’s principal for three years. While he liked being an administrator, marching band was still in the back of his mind.
“Especially in the last year, I just felt a pull to go up to teaching because I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s my passion,” Witzigreuter said. “Being able to work with kids and have that one-on-one with them — I missed that so much.”
And the work he and the kids have put in this season has paid off. This year, the show is Kandinsky’s Imagination, themed after the Kandinsky abstract painting “Circles in a Circle.”
“It is basically about building, on the field, a painting,” Witzigreuter said.
Right now, props of the painting are still in the works, but the director is sure of their size.
“It will be massive,” Witzigreuter said. “It’s really big.”
To convey the idea of Kandinsky’s artistic process, the East Noble Marching Knights will play motifs from “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and “Imagine” by John Lennon.
After two weeks of band camp, a week of rehearsal before that and some evening rehearsals, the band has its entire show learned.
It’s a lot of work, but the students are enjoying it as much as their director is. Ian Trout, an East Noble senior and one of the marching band’s drum majors, said he has a passion for performing these shows.
“The month of June we had entirely off, and I found myself sitting at home so excited waiting for marching band to start,” Trout said.
Trout said he and the band are gelling pretty well with their new director, too.
“He’s pretty cool,” Trout said.