I’m loving this–high school marching band season is over in Indiana by now (ISSMA State was on Halloween) and I need MOAR! I only got to go to one competition this year–my brother is a junior now, and my fall break coincided with the weekend of regionals.
I was in the Carroll High School Charger Pride (opinions vary on whether a charger is a warhorse, like on the big truck, or a lightning bolt, like on the little trailer) from 2003-2006.
My experiences in marching band include two of the few times I have felt like I’m in a movie.
2004 season: We had a great season. Now it is regionals, and we’re all desperately hoping to go to state this year, since we didn’t make it last time, even though our record at invitationals was about the same. It’s October, and not to put to fine a point on it, it’s also cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. We were one of the last bands to perform, so we don’t have time to change out of our uniforms before hearing the awards. There are 150 of us or so, standing just outside the chain-link fence that surrounded the football stadium, standing there in our uniforms that felt so hot in the summer but might as well have left us standing naked on this late autumn night. Some other flutes and I pass around two or three handwarmers. A few snowflakes drift by, high overhead.
They start the awards. We get a gold. That means we have a chance. A chance to be part of the five bands who would go on to state and become immortal (this was before they restructured the system). “And now, in no particular order, the five bands who will be moving on to ISSMA State competition.” The announcer’s voice sounds the same at every competition. One name. Not us. Another. Not us. Another. Another. We, all hundred-plus of us, lock arms, cross fingers,even try to cross toes in our Drill Masters. The longest moment in the history of moments hangs suspended in the icy air. Then: “The Charger Pride, from Carroll High School!”
Just like a movie.
You can just imagine the buses on the 2.5 hour ride back to the high school.
This was that show. We got 6th place at state (class B).
2005 Season: Again, we were having a good season. Winning the invitationals we went to. However, this one evening, we had sort of resigned ourselves to second place. See, at this invitational, Concord was going to be competing. Concord was the biggest band in class B, at least half again as large as any other. They supposedly kept their numbers up by offering a band trip to Hawaii every year. No one ever beat them. It was easier for them to hide mistakes with so many people.
But, as you may have guessed from my saying that these marching band experiences reminded me of being in a movie, they did not actually win that night. No. The third place band was announced. We fully expected to place second at that point, knowing the third place band’s performance and having won the caption award for music. Then…“Second Place, Concord High School”. It may have been poor form for us to start going nuts at that point, but we did. Our parents did too. Everyone who wasn’t Concord did, basically. It was more exciting than going to state (at which time Concord of course placed ahead of us-I guess they decided to really buckle down after this so rude wake-up call at this invitational). In the entire time I was in marching band in class B, no one else ever beat Concord at a regular invitational. (I once told someone that I was part of a band that beat Concord and they spontaneously declared love for me. I don’t know the class B scene anymore, but for people my age, they were known as unbeatable.)
That was also the season that included a very strange weekend which I shall only refer to as “Fear and Loathing at BOA”. Good times.