ELKHART — Local high school marching bands are working hard to develop compelling and entertaining routines.
There is no longer an Indiana State School Music Association district contest for open class bands because of a restructuring in contest structure. Instead there will be four local invitational instead of the usual three. The first event of the year is the Goshen Invitational on Sept. 14 at Goshen High School.
Directing staff: Scott Spradling, director; Cameron Bradley, Bryan Golden and Steve Peterson, assistant directors; Ben Runkel, percussion instructor; Stephanie Pairitz, dance/color guard director; Scott Preheim, sound technician; Allyson Uhey, woodwind assistant; Christa Norwood, Jackson Sweazy and Grant Longenbaugh, brass assistants; Kyle Lutes, percussion assistant
Show: “RISE - The Revolution Within, A Movement for Rosa.”
Director’s comments: Concord’s marching band will be performing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, and band director Scott Spradling said that has bumped up enrollment in the program.
“Probably our greatest challenge is that our band has grown by about 30 members this year,” Spradling said. “We have a lot of personalities and a lot of feet. We are really appreciative and excited that so many kids want to be a part of marching band, but we want to make sure they all feel like they are an important part, rather than one of many.”
With 248 kids on the field during practices, Spradling said he sometimes feels that he needs binoculars. But he added that he feels strongly about connecting with each of the students on a individual level.
“It bothers me when I haven’t talked to (one of the students) for a few days,” Spradling said.
This feeling, he added, is shared by all of the band staff.
“We have a really talented staff that connects with the kids,” Spradling said.
Directing staff: Scott Garner, director; Dan Burton and Sandra Carnall, assistant directors; Jen Buckholz, guard director; Melissa Schull and Martha Conrad, guard staff; Adam Schull, visual.
Show: “The Hunted”
Director’s comments: “The concept (for the show title) came from the piece of music we wanted to use,” Scott Garner, band director, said Friday, Aug. 16. “(The music) centers around one of our band members who plays piano and horn. We wanted her to be able to do both and have it make sense.”
Garner said that the soloist — senior Carol Weirich — acts the part of a hunter for some of the show. During another part of the show, her role reverses and she becomes “the hunted.”
“For our kids, they will be pushing the limits of what they have done in the past,” Garner said. “They will be doing more than marching. We want to put on the best show we can. We really want to be unique in our class.”
Directing staff: Kurt Weimer, Tim Carnall, Jake Robaska, Todd Neuenschwander
Show: “A Story for the Ages”
Director’s comments: Elkhart Memorial band director Kurt Weimer said band members “are hungry for success” this year after their first win last year in Fort Wayne.
“The goal for students, in general, is state finals,” Weimer said. “The students have expressed that interest year after year — that is something they want to achieve.”
Weimer added that band staff tries to encourage students to focus on working hard rather than just on winning.
“When you focus a little bit more on doing the job very, very well, that’s usually what creates success,” Weimer said.
Directing staff: Andrew Muth, director; Scott Lehman, assistant director; Kali Marquart, guard director; Karmen Marquart, assistant guard director; Ryan Johnson, percussion director.
Show: “Everyone Has a Dark Side”
Director’s comments: “This year’s show is very different from last year’s show,” Andrew Muth, Fairfield band director, said Friday, Aug. 16. “We are focusing more on the theatrics this year. ... We hope to engage the audience in the story.”
Muth explained that the show is about telling the age-old story of the struggle between good and evil. The color guard will contribute heavily to telling the story, Muth added.
“We lost a really strong senior class last year but we recruited strong members,” Muth said, adding that Fairfield has 15 more members this year.
“We did a lot of work this year trying to connect all the music programs from elementary to junior high to the high school level,” Muth said. “We had high schoolers go out and play for junior high and elementary school and had staff go out and talk to (students).”
Directing staff: Tom Cox, Josh Kaufman, Derrick Shannon, Takesha Stoll and Max Mault
Show: “Jacob’s Ladder”
Director’s comments: Goshen’s marching band is facing some stiff — and new — competition this year after squeaking into Class A by one student.
“The last time we were in Class A was in 2009,” Tom Cox, band director for Goshen, said Thursday, Aug. 15.
He added that Goshen students will be competing against the No. 1 marching band in the nation, Carmel High School’s band, this year in Class A.
“When your class champion is also the best marching band in the United States, that gives you something to shoot for,” Cox said.
“We’d like to be in the top 10, but you can’t dwell on that,” he added. “I feel like we will be competitive.”
He added, “We knew our opponents in Class B very well. In Class A our closest rival would probably be Penn, and they are twice the size high school we are.”
Directing staff: Brad Zook, director; Bryce Cone and Drew Miller, assistant directors; Brittany Smith, Ashley Urdaneta and Jessica Smith, color guard instructors; Micah Detweiler and Christian Good, percussion instructors; Mitchell Alexander, brass instructor; Chris French, woodwinds instructor.
Show: “Absolute Power” (music from the video game Halo)
Director’s comments: Brad Zook, director, said he feels he has a “very hard-working and focused group” this year.
“It is also the largest marching band Northridge has had in my 12 years at the school,” Zook said.
He added, “We are currently working on producing a good tone and communicating good musical phrasing. We try not to focus on competing against other bands, but focus on getting better each year, each week, and each class period.”
Directing staff: Eric Criss
Show: “Tenebris Nocte”
Director’s comments: Director Eric Criss said the band’s music this year is “up a notch” in difficulty. He’s working with primarily freshmen and sophomores in this year’s group.
“We are just working on the fundamentals of playing music and making sure the kids know what to do with their instruments,” Criss said. “You never know what your competition is doing. I am really excited to see what happens.”
Directing staff: Glenn Northern, band director; Chris Paulson, Bill Leather, Jeff Carnall and Robi Davidson, assistant directors.
Director’s comments: Glenn Northern, band director, said that students will be undertaking a new form of music this year called dubstep.
“It’s kind of a techno, modern dance music,” Northern said. “Because of that there will be a lot more technology and more electronic sounds coming from the band.”
This wasn’t an idea students came up with, Northern said, but “it has captured their interest.”
Penn’s show this year will also be interactive.
“We created a smartphone app that audience members will be able to download,” Northern said. “(The audience) will be able to play a few notes along with the band.”
Class: Festival (non-competitive)
Directing staff: Kathy Lambright, director; Evan Loucks, Rachel Brown, Jennifer Doty, Stefen Roofe, Stephanie Willsey.
Show: “Establishing the Brand”
Director’s comments: The Jimtown marching band has come a long way since last year’s season. They are still in festival class, which means they won’t be competing, but band director Kathy Lambright said the band has doubled in size. “We’ve added a color guard and a drumline,” Lambright said. “I think there is just a bigger excitement for band and the students who were (involved) last year have set a good example for those coming in this year.”
Jimtown’s show title is all about establishing the brand for the school’s marching band, Lambright said.
“I wanted to find a show that would really say, ‘This is Jimtown band. This is what we are about,’” Lambright said.
The Jimtown band will perform at the Concord Invitational, ISSMA festival competition, and will march in the Marshall County Blueberry Festival parade on Labor Day weekend.
Elkhart Truth reporter Marlys Weaver-Stoesz contributed to this story.
Marching band schedule
Goshen Invitational, Sept. 14
Concord Invitational, Sept. 21
Penn Invitational, Sept. 28
Elkhart Memorial Invitational, Oct. 12
ISSMA Regional Contest, Oct. 19
ISSMA Semi-State Contest, Oct. 26
ISSMA State Contest, Nov. 2