Concord, Goshen and Northridge’s marching bands have been spending this week preparing for the Indiana State School Music Association’s marching band state finals.
The bands will compete Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, amongst the other top class B bands in the state.
Northridge performs at 1:28 p.m., with Goshen performing at 1:54 p.m. and Concord at 2:46 p.m. Results for the class B competition will be at 2:46 p.m.
Here’s a look at how each of the local class B bands are approaching the big day.
CONCORD: DEFENDING THEIR WIN
Concord won the state championship in its class last year, but don’t think that the Minutemen are getting complacent. Band director Scott Spradling said that being defending champions means that other schools are gunning for Concord.
“I would say that there certainly is a little bit of a target on us,” he said.
Concord has won four titles since 1992. Any external pressure they feel to win is not as much as the pressure they put on themselves.
“We don’t speak of it much,” he said of last year’s win.
This year’s show is harder than last year’s, so Spradling said that there isn’t any complacency among the students. Even though they try not to mention the championship, it’s still in the back of their heads.
Spradling said that the fact that there are so many local schools heading to the state finals means that the community, including the parents and schools, supports the marching band programs.
This year’s band has 212 kids, making it the largest band Concord has had in the last 10 years and one of the biggest that will compete in the state finals. The more students there are, the harder it is to manage all of them and make sure they sound the same. But it also means that they can create a bigger sound. Overall, Spradling said their size is an advantage.
To get rid of any pre-state jitters, the band competed in the Bands of America super regional in at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis about two weeks ago. Because Lucas Oil is an indoor stadium, the sound carries differently there than outdoors.
In the end, Spradling said he wants the students to give their maximum effort and compete as if they’re just practicing at the Concord High School parking lot with no one watching.
GOSHEN: HUNGRY FOR A TITLE
Goshen High School is one of six area schools that is going to the state finals this weekend in Indianapolis. Its band has never won at the state finals, but band director Tom Cox, his staff and his students hope to change that on Saturday.
Their program is filled with organ symphonies, an idea the co-director Josh Kaufman had. They even have a replica organ that is on the field while they perform.
The team placed fifth in last year’s state finals, second in 2010 and fourth in 2009. But Kaufman said he tries to teach his kids not to focus on the numbers.
“It’s the opinion of six men on one day for one two-hour block of time,” he said.
Cox said the band, which has 178 members, is feeling confident about their ability to pick up a trophy. He credits his staff including new percussion director Derrick Shannon, a graduate of Vanderjoke music school in Chicago. Shannon has “really reenergized the percussion section.”
This year the GHS band had a mentoring program that paired the 28 seniors in the band with about four or five underclassmen to mentor. This way the younger students have someone to give them advice when they’re on and off the field.
“You can get lost sometimes,” Cox said.
Cox took the band to Pontiac, Mich., a few weeks ago to compete in the Bands of America regional competition. They placed third in their class and eighth overall. After the state finals the Goshen band will return to Indianapolis to compete in the BOA grand nationals. Cox said that experience boosted the students’ confidence.
Even though their neighbor school Concord captured first place last year and will be returning to state this year, Cox said his students feel up to par with other schools heading to state.
“We’re certainly in the mix,” he said.
NORTHRIDGE: THE PAYOFF
Northridge band students wrapped in scarves, gloves, hats, ear muffs and heavy winter coats arranged themselves into different formations while also playing their instruments in a drizzling, icy rain.
The Raider Marching Band ran through pieces of its show “Et in Terra Pax,” which translates into “And on earth peace,” Tuesday afternoon in frigid temperatures and with regular rumblings from the large semis driving down nearby U.S. 20.
Like other local bands, Northridge’s instrumentalists and color guard are working on what they can outside in this week’s chilly weather. The band has also practiced inside the high school’s fieldhouse, which Band Director Brad Zook said gives the students an idea of the echoes Lucas Oil Stadium creates, which “can be uncomfortable until you get used to it.”
The band has spent the week “putting finishing touches on everything,” Zook said.
Tuesday, the group spent a chunk of the rehearsal focusing on the very beginning of its show.
“We have to grab their attention with the introduction,” Zook told the band members, reminding them where to crescendo and grab listeners’ attention. “This is going to make a world of difference.”
Aaron Yoder, a senior trumpet player for Northridge, rubbed his hands together to warm himself up a bit after moving inside Northridge High School after the outside portion of Tuesday’s practice.
It can be difficult to play in that kind of weather, he said, but “we’ve been to state before, so we know what the payoff is.”
Knowing they’ll be playing in such an impressive venue Saturday at the state finals also motivates Aaron, he said, and he’s confident Northridge will do well.
It seems to him that the scores have been pretty close for the class B bands this season — nobody is blowing the others out of the water, he said.
“You never know how stuff is going to turn out,” he said, “but it sure seems like stuff has been really close.”