After hours of practicing and multiple competitions, two local marching bands are headed to the state finals.

The Greenwood Community High School Marching Woodmen and Irish Guard and Center Grove High School’s Marching Trojans gave their best shows of the season at semistate, earning them a top 10 place and a berth to the state championship Saturday, their band directors said.

The more than 300 students that march with the bands will soon begin preparing for the weekend, where they will march for Indiana State School Music Association state championships at Lucas Oil Stadium. Both will face off with nine other bands in their class. Greenwood will defend a state championship in Class B.

But first, they celebrated.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, Greenwood band members stood in the yards of their two band directors and played their show.

The annual tradition started in the mid-1970s after one band member rode her bike across town early in the morning after earning a berth to the state finals. She stood alone in the band director’s lawn and played the show. The next year more band members came. Soon it was an annual tradition, said John Morse, Greenwood’s band director.

“It’s one of my favorite days of the year,” he said.

Center Grove will celebrate their success with a band pep rally on Thursday, a 30-year tradition for the Marching Trojans, said Kevin Schuessler, band director. 

“It is probably imitated after a pep rally that you would see for a football team,” he said.

Greenwood and Center Grove snagged caption awards during their performances at regionals and have earned first place at local invitationals throughout the season. Both bands have also placed at Bands of America, with Greenwood getting second in their class and Center Grove placing tenth in the finals.

Both bands gave their best performance of the season on Saturday, but also have room to grow, their directors said.

Greenwood will spend the last week of practices before state finals polishing the performance of each individual band member, Morse said.

“Our goal this week is to make sure that each student is performing to the highest level,” he said. 

Students who need extra help to pick up a part of the show they may be struggling with will get that help this week, Morse said. They will work with groups of students to make sure they have what they need to pull off their best performance, he said.

“It will be about group work and making sure that the kids that need the help can get it,” Morse said.

Both bands will have multiple rehearsals this week, with Greenwood rehearsing Saturday morning before they march for a state championship. 

Part of Center Grove’s work will be making sure that each students has the confidence they need to be able to perform their best at the state finals, Schuessler said. 

“We have a lot of things which we can improve upon,” Schuessler said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.