Exchange student overcomes struggle with adapting to American band


Photo by: Kristen Sallee

Playing loud for all to hear, the Marching Mounties preform at a Friday night football game.

Mason Schroeder, Editor in Chief

   Before German exchange student Lioba Werner left her home country, she realized that she did not want to leave music behind and decided to join the band in the United States.

   Werner lives in a small village, so her options for extracurricular were limited. Even though her school does not have a band program for students, she was in a club band in her village from a young age.

Jade Sayles (left) and Lioba Werner (right) celebrate a good performance after an invitational at Grand Ledge. (Photo by: Jade Sayles)

   “My village band has probably 100 members, but not all of them play, and the age range for this is 16 and up,” said Werner.

Since her school does not have a band, she joined her village band to expand her musical gifts and talents. 

   Many of Werner’s friends in Germany play in the band, including her little sister in the junior band. Having her friends in the band allows her to have more fun and enjoy it even more. 

   When Werner decided to join the band here at Northwest, Bryan Mangiavellano, the band director at the high school, supported and encouraged the idea. 

   “Lioba is the first exchange student I’ve had in the 18 years I’ve been at Northwest,” said Mangiavellano. “It is a joy to have her in class and so much fun to teach her.”

   “She feels a lot more comfortable since marching band is purely an American thing, and they don’t have that kind of stuff in Europe,” said Mangiavellano.

   Since Werner missed all of band camp and the beginning of the marching bands rehearsals, she had to try and pick up the American marching band concepts pretty quickly. The different terms used to describe marching to the various music types were obstacles in Werner’s way. However, she did not let these things stop her. 

   “I like moving and playing, even though it’s more difficult,” said Werner. “It allows me to have more fun, and it’s a new experience.”

   Since it was Werner’s first year participating in marching band, she wasn’t alone, there were many freshmen in the same boat, and she caught onto the moves faster than most of them. 

    “One year without playing wouldn’t really help my musical abilities, and with Jade in the band, it made me want to join more,” said Werner.

   Jade Sayles, Werner’s host sister, is also in the band as a twirler and enjoys bonding with her through music. 

“We both find joy playing in the band at the football games, and Lioba especially has never experienced that since they don’t have it in Germany,” said Sayles. 

   Although there are a lot of differences in the musical culture, from the types they played to the different kinds of bands, Werner has adjusted well.