TUNING UP: Marching bands perform in regional competition with hopes of making the state finals

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The 2021 band season is well underway, with state finals rapidly approaching on Nov. 6.

All four Hancock County high school marching bands have been busy rehearsing and performing in various contests in the hopes of reaching the finals, which will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The season kicked off Oct. 2, with competitions throughout the state each weekend. Bands compete within four classes determined by school enrollment sizes.

Open Class regionals take place today, Oct. 16.

Class B bands Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine high schools will perform at Center Grove High School in Greenwood today, while Eastern Hancock High School — which performed in the State Fair band competition in August — will compete among Class D bands at Evansville Central High School.

The top 10 Open Class bands from each region will move on to the semi-state competition Oct. 30, for a chance to make it to the finals, where a state champion will be crowned in each class.

This is the 48th season for the state’s high school marching band competition, hosted by the Indiana Student School Music Association.

This year marks a return to the competitive band season after last year’s season was canceled due to COVID.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to get back out and perform. We have freshmen and sophomores who have never participated in a regular season of marching band, so there’s been a lot of new experiences,” said Jackie Nason, who directs Mt. Vernon High School’s band, which she said has been working diligently to come up with a show-stopping routine.

Marching band members throughout the state devote long hours to perfecting their performances, both in class and after school, as well as countless hours throughout the summer months at band camp — sometimes up to 10 to 12 hours a day.

Greenfield-Central band director Chris Wing said he’s proud to lead students who have a heart for making great music, and working together as a team.

Despite leading the band to three state finals — winning the Class B championship in 2019 —  Wing said his focus is on helping young musicians make great music, not just bring home awards.

“We’ve never talked about competitive placements and points as benchmarks or goals. We set the goal of creating a show that is entertaining for our audiences and educational for our students,” he said. “We just try to get really good and make a video we’ll all be proud to watch for years to come.”

Jon Carney said the same is true for the marching band he directs at New Palestine High School.

“Our program’s expectations are to create an entertaining and musically pleasing program for our families and other fans… and to execute that program at the highest level possible. We believe in providing opportunities for students to grow as performers and musicians throughout the season,” he said.

That growth is achieved by gradually expanding the band’s routine throughout the season, said Carney, who has helped band members double the length of their original three-minute routine.

“As the year progresses, we perform more of the show and add more visual ideas. The students learn more choreography and have more simultaneous responsibilities given to them,” he said.

This year’s show is titled “Riddle Me This,” based on a musical arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Greenfield-Central’s show this year is called “Ramped Up.”

“The idea was to create a high energy show, utilizing amplification and ramps in an exciting and new way,” said Wing, who was excited to see the show in today’s regional competition.

Nason is also thrilled to see her Band of Marauders out on the field, triumphantly marching back after last year’s season was canceled.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to get back out and perform. We have freshmen and sophomores who have never participated in a regular season of marching band, so there’s been a lot of new experiences,” said the director.

“We have always maintained high expectations for our students despite the circumstances. We stay focused on our improvement each and every day, celebrating the daily victories and growth,” she said.

ABOUT THE BANDS

Eastern Hancock High School

Nickname: Royal Pride

Director: Adam Eaton

Show: “The Journey Ahead”

Members: 30

Class: D

Greenfield-Central High School

Nickname: Cougar Pride

Director: Chris Wing

Show: “Ramped Up”

Members: 150

Class: B

Mt. Vernon High School

Nickname: Band of Marauders

Director: Jackie Nason

Show: “Bloom”

Members: 79

Class: B

New Palestine High School

Nickname: Marching Dragons

Director: Jon Carney

Show: “Riddle Me This”

Members: 73

Class: B

IF YOU GO

This year’s high school marching band season led by Indiana State School Music Association kicked off Oct. 2, marking a long-awaited return after last year’s season was canceled due to COVID.

Regional competition takes place today, (Saturday, Oct. 16) when bands throughout the state compete within classes based on school enrollment size.

Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine high schools will compete among Class B bands at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, while Eastern Hancock High school will compete against Class D bands at Evansville Central High School.

The top ten bands at each regional site will move on to the semi-state competition Oct. 30.

Admission at each event is $8 for adults and $5 for students and preschoolers.

The marching band state finals will be held Nov. 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where a state champion in each of four classes will be crowned.

Admission for the finals is $22 for adults and $18 for students and preschoolers.

To view the most up to date schedules and results for ISSMA competitions, visit ISSMA.net.

2021 ISSMA Marching Band schedule

Oct. 16 — ISSMA Regionals

Oct. 22-23 — Bands of America Indianapolis Super Regional

Oct. 30 — ISSMA semi-state

Nov. 6 — ISSMA state finals

Nov. 12-13 — Bands of America Grand National Championships