Neighbor threatens lawsuit over noisy school marching band

A Mukilteo middle school band has been asked to quiet down. One neighbor has threatened to sue, and that's changing the band's practice schedule.

There is one basic fact about marching bands: They are loud.

Olympic View Middle School's band is no exception.

With more than 250 members, the band is a powerhouse. There are so many students they have to rehearse in shifts. The Mukilteo school's musicians have earned many awards and perform across the state.

To one nearby neighbor, however, their rehearsals are "akin to torture."

Debbie McPherson has lived in her condo next door to the school for more than 20 years, and every year it's the same thing. Students practice five to six hours per day beginning at eight in the morning.

She can't take it anymore.

"It's the same song, the same band, the same everything, every day, every hour," she said. "I can't talk on the phone. I can't hear my TV playing. It's thunderous."

When McPherson complained to the school district, the band moved its rehearsals to the school track, about 100 yards from her home.

The track, though, is often in use by PE classes.

When McPherson threatened to sue the Mukilteo school district, the band moved many of its practices inside, which isn't good since a large part of being a marching band is the part about marching.

"It's muscle memory," said assistant band director Ken Caldwell. "If you do it enough times, and if you do it correctly it's gonna come together. If you don't, it won't."

Band mom Denise Knutt sympathized with the neighbor but said the band only practices about six weeks per year. She argued one person shouldn't be able to call the tune for a whole school.

"These kids are doing good things. They're involved in a great program. We're getting pinched by one person who doesn't like the noise," she said.

 A school district spokesman said students were moved inside in part, because the parking lot where they typically practice is under construction. He acknowledged the complaints of the condo owner, saying the district is doing its best to be a "good neighbor."

At this point, the situation remains unresolved.

McPherson hopes she and the school can somehow find a way to live in harmony.

"My intent is not to sue them," she said. "It's to make my life more comfortable."

© 2017 KING-TV


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