With music, colors and dancing, audiences will watch a love story between a girl and boy and primary colors mixing to form new colors at this year’s marching band competitions.
Over the next few weeks, schools from all over the state will compete in this year’s marching band competition. On Saturday, Center Grove, Indian Creek, Greenwood and Whiteland high schools will perform at the regional competition. Franklin will perform Oct. 26 in the scholastic class finals.
Each marching band and color guard spends months practicing a routine with choreography, music and a color scheme that fits a central theme or storyline, local band directors said.
Creating the theme for the show and arranging the music happens months in advance, Greenwood band director John Morse said. Band leaders start working with a designer immediately after each year’s competition to have the show design ready by March.
Greenwood’s theme this year is “After the Fall,” a show about men uniting after tragedy. The school has gone to the state finals the past 32 years and has earned 11 state championships. The band of 175 students practices over the summer and for nearly two hours every day after school in the fall.
The students now are polishing the show and learning a new element they might add later in the competition, he said.
Greenwood will perform this weekend as part of the open class regionals, along with Indian Creek, Center Grove and Whiteland. Bands that place highly in the regional competition go on to semistate, where 10 bands from each size category are chosen from both the southern half and northern half of Indiana to compete against each other.
The top 10 bands from that competition then go on to state finals. One from each size class — which are based on school enrollment — is then named state champion.
High schools are separated into three classes: festival, which is noncompetitive; scholastic, which has size limits for the school and band; and open, which any school can choose to compete in. Only schools with band sizes fewer than 125 can compete in the scholastic class, which has a preliminary and final event. Franklin competed in the scholastic class preliminary event Saturday. This is the school’s first year outside the festival class.
The marching band always has approached performances as if they were competitive, so they did not have to change the way they practice in order to prepare for the event, Franklin band director Tim Kosch said. This year, the school stopped offering marching band as a class, so now students practice only after school rather than during the day, he said. The marching band has grown and now has 90 members, because students who didn’t have room in their schedules can now join, he said.
“HeartBeat,” the Franklin marching band’s performance for this year, represents a girl with the color guard, who will dance in passion and anger as her relationship with a boy, who is represented by the marching band, roller-coasters up and down.
Color guard captain Mekenzie Dixon, 18, said that she’s nervous for the finals but thinks that her team will be as prepared as possible for the event. Dixon joined color guard as a freshman because her mom had done it in high school. She immediately loved performing, despite feeling some anxiety before a show.
“I think we’ll be ready,” she said. “Once we get out there we’ll turn those nerves into ‘I’m going to go out and show everyone what I can do.’”
Students overcome nerves and spend hours practicing because they don’t just love music, they love getting out there and performing as a team, Whiteland band director Pete Sampson said.
“It’s different than athletic sports,” he said. “No one sits on the bench in band. They are all as important as each other. There’s no chance someone will be sitting down because the show is designed for a specific number of people.”
The Whiteland marching band, with 130 members, will perform their show, “Primarily,” on Saturday at Evansville Central High School. The show is based on primary colors and shapes mixing to create new shades and interesting patterns, Sampson said.
The schools performing in open class will have the chance to go to the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 2 and be named state champion.
Indian Creek High School has never made it past the regional phase of the competition but hopes this year to make it to semistate, band director Amy Heavilin said. With 60 performers, it’s one of the county’s smallest marching bands.
Making sure the students enjoy themselves and the music and get a chance to work together as a team is just as important as competing, Heavilin said.
Their theme this year is “Latin Jazz.” The color guard will wave fiery reds, yellows and oranges, and the band will play fast-paced tango and Latin songs.
Trumpeter Benny Sully, 18, is excited for the show but nervous about his solo. Sully joined the band in eighth grade and now, as a senior, plans to get a degree in musical education, so he can go on to teach students to have a passion for playing music.
“It started out as a way to hang out with my friends, and now it’s who I am,” he said.