Senior’s musical talent blossoms into marching band Capstone project

By Journalism I student Olivia Smith

Senior Linus Fraley stands front and center on the football field as the announcer’s voice booms out his name. His friends’ cheers of excitement reach him from the stands, and he and the band begin to play Upper Arlington’s Alma Mater, a new rendition he arranged to improve the sound of the piece.

The exhilarating sound of the Alma Mater fills the stadium. The band members breathe as they prepare to play the newly improved song. After years of unsure notes and confusing rhythms, the song has finally been revised for the better.

Fraley entered the world of music around the tender age of 4 or 5. Not long after, his father realized that Fraley was musically talented.

Having now learned five different instruments, he decided to incorporate his love for music into his senior capstone.

A discussion with this gifted 18-year-old unveils the process of arranging a song. Fraley has earned the respect of members of his class, as well as that of the superintendent.

Q: Can you explain when and how you first started playing music?

FRALEY: So, I started playing music when I was around 4 or 5, I think the first time I ever played anything, it was this little, keyboard that my dad got me, and I started to learn songs on it just by ear, and he saw that I had a talent for that, so I started taking piano lessons, and I just kind of grew from there.

Q: What instruments do you play?

FRALEY: There’s piano, there’s guitar, which I started to learn when I was about 8. Harmonica, which again also [I was] 8. Drums, which was about four years ago I started to learn drums, and then trumpet obviously.

Q: Weren’t you involved in a band a while ago?

FRALEY: I was in ‘North of Lane.’ We started that in eighth grade. That’s kind of the reason I learned to play drums. We just needed them, and we did a few fun gigs with that as well. The most notable one was opening for the lead singer of [the band] “Poison.” Bret Michaels, which was at the LC which was super fun. Otherwise we did a few local gigs, at Carsonie’s and stuff like that.

Q: Can you tell me about other musical organizations you were involved in?

FRALEY: A lot of the school music programs I’m in, obviously band, both the jazz ensemble and jazz lab second semester. Basically whatever I can take at the school, I’m going to take (music related).

Q: Why did you decide to rewrite the alma mater?

FRALEY: Honestly, it just sounded really bad. It was hard to play, and part of the reason was that my capstone was to arrange a song, and it just happened to be that the alma mater sucked and it needed to be better because it was bad. We’ll just say that.

Q: What was the process you used for rewriting this?

FRALEY: So, I started everything from scratch, and what I did was I looked at the choir arrangement of it, and I tried to base a lot of it off of that. But after I got the bare bones, like the melody and the baseline, everything else was just kind of seeing how it sounds and if it sounds good or not, and really that’s it.

Q: Have you composed any other songs?

FRALEY: Yeah, so before rewriting the Alma Mater, I was going to do another song for my capstone. I was going to make an arrangement for one of the songs from Spongebob called ‘Sweet Victory.’It’s done and all, but I just thought that the Alma Mater would be a better song for my capstone because it will have a greater influence. There’s that, and then just writing my own stuff just for the fun of it.

Q: What is your capstone exactly?

FRALEY: My project was obviously arranging a song, but my research paper had a topic of ‘to what extent could an arranger make a band sound better’, and I went into a lot of detail about how different harmonies work and what makes a band sound full instead of everything playing the same exact thing.

Q: What were some of the hardest parts of rewriting this piece?

FRALEY: So, the chorus part only had four parts, so making it so that it didn’t sound like the old one [the Alma Mater] was difficult, so just finding a way to make everything like they harmonies work and not having it be super hard was probably the most challenging part. It also didn’t help that I just didn’t know the ranges of woodwind instruments, I had to find clarification with some other band members on like ‘is this note okay?’ and ‘what are the bad notes on this instrument’ and stuff like that.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about this personal accomplishment?

FRALEY: I just like that I feel like I actually contributed something to the band. It feels good that I left my mark.

Q:  How have others responded to this accomplishment?

FRALEY: There’s been a lot of different responses. The most obvious one is people saying “I like this”, and “this sounds a lot better” just like congratulating me; basic stuff like that. At the football games during pregame, they announced my name which I didn’t know they were going to do that honestly. They announced my name saying that I wrote it which was pretty cool, and it felt cool. There’s been a lot inside the band, for example, people were just making jokes about it, but not in a mean way. When I showed him this [the band director], he really liked it and at band camp, we passed it out, and about every single time we played it for the first two or three days, he said something like “You know who wrote this, right?” and then he was just like “Can we get a hand for Linus?” and then that became a huge meme. It’s something, I guess. Every once in a while someone just yells, ‘Can we get a hand?’ and then people start clapping. It’s pretty funny honestly.