Every movement and note has been practiced over and over again.
And at this week’s rehearsals, there is a need to get everything right.
The Center Grove Marching Trojans will march at the Indiana State School Music Association State Finals in Class A on Saturday night for a chance at a state championship.
Students who began working on the nine-minute marching band show in the summer are in their finals weeks of the season and Saturday’s competition is one of the capstones of months of work. Marching bands had to place in the top 10 of competitions at regional and semistate meets to earn the berth to the state finals.
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“The technique we have been training for all year is to set them up in that venue,” said Kevin Schuessler, marching band director.
This week is about adding the final details to the show that will help them compete for a state title, Schuessler said.
“It is tying their awareness on how many things they have to balance to make sure their show comes off,” he said.
The show, titled “Endangered” is meant to tell the story of how animals are endangered and how mankind must change or the Earth will perish.
Large props are part of their show, partly inspired by “The Lorax.”
An hour glass ticks down the time to extinction and a trap is set for animals that become extinct. Students are performing songs such as Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood,” that help tell the story, Schuessler said.
Marching band members had about a week worth of rehearsals to prepare for state after earning their berth. Some pieces were added to the show that Schuessler hoped would make it better, he said.
Preparing a marching band show is similar to getting ready for football season, he said.
Once band members get the basics down, more plays and movements can be added to make it better, Schuessler said.
And on Saturday, band members are hoping for the best.
Practices this week have been more energetic, with band members realizing that this is the time to buckle down and make sure that everything goes perfectly, said Alex Dixon, a senior drum major.
“State championships are on the line, urgency is on everyone’s mind,” he said. “(It’s) a nothing-to-lose type of situation.”
Some new movements have been added and band members take time on their own to practice them. Even the slightest change, such as changing the way a note is played to maximize impact, can make a difference to improve the show, said Ana Cook, a freshmen mellophone player.
“It is the little details that make the biggest difference,” she said.
Directors have concentrated on what is on the judges’ score sheets to help students understand how the show could be improved, Schuessler said.
For example, students are encouraged to play so that they can earn the check mark on the judges’ sheet that deems them “always good” or “always strong.”
Part of getting ready to perform at state is grappling with the new sound of playing inside the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium, Schuessler said.
Directors have helped students prepare to play to the entire audience and to make sure that their sound reaches all the way to the press box of the large stadium, he said.
Playing in the stadium also has advantages, as students won’t have to deal with the weather and the state finals are a rehearsal for Bands of American, played at Lucas Oil Stadium in November.
Part of preparing for one of the biggest competitions of the year is strengthening bonds with band members.
Booster parents threw the band a pep rally earlier in the week. And on Friday night or Saturday morning, every section will share a meal together before they take on one of the biggest challenges of the season.
“It’s a moment we can all come together before one of the biggest times of the year,” Dixon said.
What: Indiana State School Music Association State Finals.
When: All day Saturday. Center Grove’s Marching Trojans compete at 9:11 p.m. They will be competing against schools in Class A, including Carmel, Brownsburg, Fishers and Columbus North high schools.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S. Capitol Ave., Indianapolis.
Cost: $20 for adults and $18 for students and preschool.