ELDERSBERG — ELDERSBURG -- Barely a month after he assumed directorship of Liberty High's Marching Band, Bryan A. Eber was leading the Lions in the first of this season's competitions.
"I just stepped in and started teaching," he said.
The band, which has 59 musicians and a 16-member front, was three weeks into rehearsing "Ballet Sacra," the most difficult piece "they have ever attempted or will ever attempt," when Mr. Eber replaced Stephen L. Miles, who became supervisor of Music and Art for Charles County Schools.
Despite the difficulty and intricacies of the music, the 27-year-old Towson State University graduate remains confident.
"I put the banners, which the band has already won, high, and left space for more," he said, pointing to more than 100 trophies and pennants in the band room.
"I reassured the students that they were doing an excellent job and they are on the right track."
Mr. Eber, a Howard County resident, taught music at Mount Airy Middle for four years after graduating from college in 1988.
"I had originally asked for a high school position, but middle school proved a good experience," he said. "I guess we'll find out this year what I can do."
A day before the competition, he admitted to slight jitters.
But Liberty took first place in Group III and top honors overall at the Cavalier Classic, sponsored by South Carroll High last Saturday. So much for jitters.
"The competitions prepare the bands for the state championship and ultimately for the Atlantic Coast Chapter Championship," Eber said. "The contests give the students an opportunity to perform, be judged and see other bands."
The Lions take a break from their heavy competition schedule this Saturday and play host to about 12 bands in the 10th annual Liberty Extravaganza.
Following in the footsteps of Mr. Miles, who led the band through six award-winning seasons, including a 1990 appearance at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, has been a challenge.
"In some ways, it is easy because the program he established is well-organized and running smoothly," Mr. Eber said. "The difficulty lies in the tradition of winning, which I hope to continue."
Liberty High facilities, including the rehearsal rooms and concert hall, are ideal, he said.
He also gave high marks to his students: "I have a great group of students, committed to and taking pride in what they are doing."
The returning band members are serious musicians, he said. Many plan to concentrate in music at the college level.
Twenty-three of the band members are new, like Mr. Eber.
"We might be younger overall, but we are quite happy with the freshmen," he said. "We expect a lot of them and they are giving it."