DUNLAP — At least six of Elkhart County’s competitive marching bands will continue on to regional contests in two weeks.
Concord, Central, Memorial, Fairfield, Goshen and Northridge’s bands all met the benchmark score to earn a gold rating at district contests today, Sept. 29, and are able to continue on in the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) season. Penn also earned a gold rating.
All of those bands competed today, Sept. 29, at the district contest at Concord High School. In class C, Fairfield swept the caption awards, earning best music, best visual and best general effect. In class B, the captions were split between three Elkhart County bands. Concord earned best music, Goshen earned best visual and Northridge earned best general effect.
NorthWood High School’s band performed in class C at the ISSMA district contest at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, but it is not yet known how it performed. Many bands arrived at their schools early in the day to rehearse before getting to Concord for their district competition, but early mornings and the possibility of playing in less-than-perfect weather are part of the marching band experience.
When things do get tough, “we just tell each other to push ourselves through it because it will be so worth it in the end,” said Katelynn James, a junior trumpet player for Concord.
Brian Jones, a senior drum major for Northridge, said that the camaraderie in a band makes the work worth it.
“We get to have this giant family — we’re all really supportive of each other and of other bands,” he explained.
That “family” includes students in the band as well as schools’ directing staffs and parents. Parents organize booster clubs, start cheers in the audience and help with preparing for contests.
Diana McGill has been a part of Fairfield’s pit crew for the last seven years, with two kids in band those years. This is her younger son Mike’s senior year, so she won’t be as involved after this.
McGill and her husband, Scott, have spent plenty of hours each band season preparing and setting up props at every rehearsal and contest, and Scott McGill also drives a semi for the marching band. The McGills wanted to be as involved and supportive as possible while their kids were in band.
“They’re only young once,” she said.
Another Fairfield band parent, Sheila Wert, noted that she had seen a parent wearing a pin that said that house chores need to wait until mid-November. By then, ISSMA contests are complete.
“You’re usually ‘band mom’ by the end,” Wert said.
McGill agreed. “Everything’s on hold until after band season,” she said.
Local bands will now work to continue perfecting their shows for regional contests Oct. 13. Many bands are also competing at various invitational contests this coming Saturday.