Mr. Cilone restores pride to marching band


Photo by Gabriel Souza

Austin Cilone, band teacher, smiling after an OHS marching band performance.

Ananya Thekkemelepatt, Social Media Manager

Over the past few years, marching band has been at the core of the school pride and hype OHS feels during each pep rally and football game, and Austin Cilone, band director, plans to bring that same energy for the 2021-2022 school year. He wants the campus to feel united, and bring a beautiful sense of pride to OHS.

Back in 2020, Cilone joined the OHS music department as the marching band director. His love for band, and all things performing arts, stemmed from his introduction to the trumpet in the sixth grade, which also led him to get involved with musical theatre.

“I actually didn’t think that I was ever going to teach band,” Cilone said. “I switched really late into my almost third year of college; I switched to music education and so I’ve been there ever since.”

Previously, Cilone was involved with the Arizona based professional marching band, The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps. With the drum corps, he was able to compete nationally and educate as a staff member, which allowed him to gain teaching experience for marching band even outside of a classroom.  

“If it wasn’t for that group, I would have never switched to music education,” Cilone said. “The way that they taught me made me want to help somebody else in the same way.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his visions for the band were halted. From adapting rehearsal schedules to fit social distancing regulations, to not being able to find supplies needed for a normal marching season, the 2020-2021 marching band faced an incredible amount of roadblocks while trying to continue their music.

“My job would’ve been way harder if it wasn’t for these students here that were able to help it float,” Cilone said. “One of the things that we took pride with ourselves in last year was being able to take adversity and run with it.”

Every time the band takes the field, they scream the word “PRIDE.” Cilone wants his students to truly understand what it means to do everything with pride and reach the standards they set for themselves. Stemming from the word ‘pride,’ Cilone created a motto for his students saying, “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.”

“My goal is that they’re able to take that motto and live their lives in the future with that way that they held themselves here in the band program and that if they do that they’re gonna come out okay,” Cilone said.

One area that he wants to continue to grow and strengthen is the band’s sense of family. He wants to create a connection amongst the students so that everyone is going to want to come to practice and rehearsals, not just for the sake of the class, but to be able to make music with people that they love.

“The love that is extending for the students, from parent down to student and from student to the band program is just filtering down really well and I think that is our biggest strength right now,” Cilone said.

Another goal is that he wants the band to be travelling, so that this band is not just seen at a state-level. He wants the band to branch out so that the students are able to get the opportunities they are itching for, in order to prove themselves. 

“We need to be going to Bands of America events so that this band can be seen at a national level not just at an Arizona level,” Cilone said. “To branch out farther than that, to make it to Chicago at some of these big band association events so that people know our name and know who we are, that’s the goal.”

With teachers and leaders like Cilone, the OHS marching band and the OHS campus truly seems to be pushing forward through hardships and adversity. 

“The sooner we can figure out that we’re trying to work together to build each other up and not tear each other down, that’s really gonna help out this campus, it’s really gonna help out all of our programs,” Cilone said.