ELKHART — Football players aren’t the only high school kids working hard to prepare for a competitive fall season.

Marching bands in Elkhart County are spending countless hours at practices to energize crowds at halftime shows and perfect their performances for invitationals and competitions.

So far, Goshen High School and Concord High School have both held invitationals this month. Band directors say their bands are off to a great start this season but continue to work out those early season bugs.

CLASS A

The Concord Marching Minutemen and the Goshen Crimson Marching Band are the two Class A bands in the area.

Concord is the largest band with 263 members. This year, their show is called “Come Out and Play.”

The Marching Minutemen are no stranger to making state finals, qualifying 35 of the past 36 years, according to director Scott Spradling.

At the Goshen Invitational, the band placed third.

Moving forward, Spradling said, the band will continue to build and develop its program this season.

“We are fortunate to live in the Concord community where our parents, school leaders and staff value a fine arts education,” he said. “From that great support, expectations are high and opportunities are available to give each student a high level of assistance and instruction.”

Those high standards result in consistent high-level results, Spradling said.

“We also have an outstanding group of teachers in the music department that value education, individualized instruction and positive relationships,” he said.

“Elkhart County is very fortunate to have so many outstanding band programs,” he said. “One can attend a contest and witness high school students using their maximum efforts to perform their shows at the highest level possible – truly an admirable quality for any high school student.”

The Goshen Crimson Marching Band is composed of 192 members. The band’s 2019 show is entitled “Common Ground.”

The Crimson has qualified for the ISMAA State Marching Band Finals 21 times, according to band director Tom Cox.

As they prepare for the season, Cox said the band’s top goals remain the same each year.

“As always, it is about improving your skills, working as a group and having some fun,” he said.

CLASS B

The Elkhart Central Blazer Brigade, Elkhart Memorial Crimson Charger Command and the Northridge Raider Band are the Class B bands in the area.

There are 114 members in the Blazer Brigade this year. The band’s show is called “One of a Kind.”

“It is about that in life which makes us happy and brings us joy, told through a celebration of Robin Williams’ life and legacy,” director David Elliott said of the show.

Central finished third at the Goshen Invitational.

Elliott said he believes the band is off to a great start. He said the students are working hard and are excited to continue to add to the show and develop.

“Our goal is to continue to improve on a daily basis, challenge ourselves to be the best performers and represent our school and community with pride,” he said.

The Blazer Brigade recently attended the Bands of America Northwest Ohio Regional Championship and was selected as a regional finalist, which included a second performance in the evening and an opportunity to have all band members on the field for the Finalist Awards Retreat & Ceremony.

The Memorial Crimson Charger Command has 99 members. The band’s 2019 show is titled “The Heist.”

Memorial has qualified for the semistate finals the last six years and will be traveling to Walt Disney World this spring.

Band director Kurt Weimer said he believes the band is on track for a good season and hopes to continue to qualify for the finals this year.

“But our top goal is and always has been for the kids to do their absolute personal best every show, whether that is a home football game or contest,” he said.

Northridge Raider Band is composed of 115 members. The show this year is called “Puzzle Pieces.”

The Raider Band earned second place at the Goshen Invitational and finished first at Concord.

During rehearsals, director Brad Zook said the band is “very disciplined and focused.”

“Our goal is always to simply improve at each and every rehearsal.”

CLASS C

The two Class C bands in the area are the Jimtown High School’s Marching Jimmies and NorthWood Red Regiment.

This year, the Marching Jimmies has 92 members and the band’s show is called “Moving Mountains.”

The band made school history last year when it qualified for semistate competition for the first time.

The Marching Jimmies were re-established in 2012. The band started in festival class, then moved to scholastic and now competes in open class.

At the Goshen Invitational, the Marching Jimmies placed second and received the best music and visual, and at Concord, the band placed fourth.

Director Kathy Baughman said the band’s goal this year is to continue to improve with each rehearsal and deliver a better performance than last year.

“We’re doing that by focusing on the fundamentals and having discipline in what we do during rehearsals and making sure we are striving to be professional in everything that we do,” Baughman said.

NorthWood is composed of 93 members. The show is titled “A Few of My Favorite Things.”

The band placed second at the Northwestern Invitational and took first at Concord.

Director Eric Criss said the band is working hard at music, marching and exploring new choreography.

CLASS D

Fairfield Marching Band is the only Class D band in the area.

The band has 60 members and its show this year is called “SCREENS.”

At the Goshen Invitational, Fairfield won first place and all captions and also won the Class D division at Concord.

Director Mykayla Neilson said the band is progressing well and is further along this year than last year.

“Our goal is to simply improve and never settle,” she said. “We set the standard last week at Goshen and all we ask of the students is to continually improve. If we do that, we will be where we want to be at the end of the season.”

Penn High School will play host to many of the bands that performed at the Goshen and Concord invitationals this Saturday. Tickets cost $7.

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