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High school bands gear up for season

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This marching band season, you can catch shows dedicated to World War II or take a peek into the Roaring Twenties.

Marching band practices have started across Johnson County. Hundreds of students and their directors have started practicing their shows and steps in weeklong band camps.

During the weekends in October and November, the bands will perform and be graded on such factors as musicality, dramatic performance and visual effects. The culmination for some bands will be marching at the Indiana State School Music Association finals in November. Center Grove will march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Here’s a look at each:

Center Grove High School

Millions of people will see the Marching Trojans of Center Grove High School march in the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

First, they will compete through the Indiana State School Music Association and Bands of America.

Center Grove is planning an understandings-themed show. Audience members will see a performance that is “The Lorax,” meets “Avatar,” director Kevin Schuessler said.

Band members will represent a glutenous society and will uncover an underworld. This year’s show is driven by visuals. Last year’s show was more musically driven, he said.

“I don’t care which way our show goes; I am very open in which way we go; you have to change,” Schuessler said. “I have done it so many different ways over the years; you have to keep it fresh, or it becomes formulaic.”

Center Grove will compete at their usual competitions throughout the year, making their way through the state competitions.

They also have to remember the parade at the end of November.

They likely will rework parts of their show for the parade, Schuessler said.

Franklin Community High School

Watching Franklin Community High School’s Blue Regiment show For the Fallen will give audience members a taste of war.

Organizers decided to create a show around a piece of music inspired by different wars.

Franklin wanted a World War II twist to honor that generation, band director Tim Kosch said.

“It is a generation that won’t be around much longer,” he said.

Audio news clips of Winston Churchill talking about the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be played during the show.

The band will perform for the Indiana State School Music Association. Whether they compete with bigger schools in open class or compete in scholastic class is still a question for the growing program, Kosch said.

Whiteland Community

High School

Spectators of the Whiteland Community High School’s Marching Warriors show will get a taste of the desert.

Organizers are planning a caravan-themed show, where the band will depict a moving caravan through the desert. The show will have touches of Egyptian culture, band director Pete Sampson said.

The show will be produced by the biggest marching band in school history. One hundred and fifty students will march this year.

Band educators have focused on getting kids interested during junior high.

“We are starting to see that growth come to the high school,” Sampson said.

Plus, success in other band programs such as jazz and concert band has gotten kids interested as a whole, he said.

“We think of it as retaining kids in general for our whole band program,” Sampson said.

A larger marching band means directors can pick more bombastic music for the shows, he said.

“The more students you have, you can produce a bigger sound,” Sampson said.

Indian Creek High School

Lovers of the Roaring Twenties will be able to go back to the era during a performance of Indian Creek High School’s Marching Braves.

Their “Spitfire” themed show will be reminiscent of the time period, with nuances from “The Great Gatsby,” band director Amy Heavilin said.

Organizers are still working on what the show will look like, but spectators will see a city skyline and props that meet the theme, she said.

The music has been chosen. “Spitfire,” is the name of a piece of concert music that Heavilin wanted to try out for a marching band, she said.

Plus, some students already performed the music in spring concerts.

“It was something I really liked the energy of,” she said.

The band of 55 students will compete in the Indiana State School Music Association this fall.

Their only goal is to get better, Heavilin said.

“We are one of the smallest bands in our class,” Heavilin said. “Our goal is for the show to get better each week.”

Greenwood Community High School

If you have musical talent and attend Greenwood Community High School, there is a decent chance you will march with the marching band.

The school’s Marching Woodmen and Irish Guard boasts 190 members, about 17 percent of the school’s total enrollment.

“Greenwood is not a very big school, we have been at 170 to 175 so 190 is a big percentage of Greenwood High School,” director John Morse said.

Band members will spend about five months perfecting their “Beauty in the Beast,” show, starting with band camp in July and wrapping up with Bands of America in November.

Music in the show starts off dark and angry and then moves to something more beautiful, Morse said.

“The musical depiction turns from ugly to more beautiful,” he said.

Roncalli High School

Members of of Roncalli High School’s marching band take pride in one thing with their show: Entertaining audience members.

Roncalli marchers don’t compete at Indiana State School Music Association competitions.

Instead, they are a community band.

About half the band members are also student athletes, making competitions almost impossible, said Kathy Peach, band director.

They practice once a week. Their Joyful Noise show will be at a parade on the southside and will entertain spectators at football games, Peach said.

“We take a lot of pride in the fact that we entertain at those games,” she said.

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