Bands find silver linings in modified season

Photos by Cheyenne Boone/The Herald
The Northeast Dubois Marching Jeeps practice in the parking lot at the school in Dubois on Wednesday. The marching band competition season was canceled, but the team continues to practice with the hope of competing again in the future. "Band was the only thing I looked forward to after school," said sophomore Benjamin Woods. "I looked into online schooling after I heard that the season was canceled."


First came the destruction. Then, the realization that not all is lost.

Widespread pain surfaced when members of Dubois County’s four high school marching bands learned last week that they would not have a shot at a state title in 2020. As the kids grapple with the changes that stem from a canceled Indiana State School Music Association competition circuit, though, they are focusing on the silver linings that allow them to still perform, and grow into the future with their bandmates.

“I was really devastated,” Sabrina Dunning, drum major of the Northeast Dubois Marching Jeeps, said of her reaction to the ISSMA cancellations. “But at the same time, I was glad that we could still have practices together. Because that’s really important, just being together.”

Her reaction to the situation is one that many local youth band leaders share. The Marching Jeeps, Jasper Marching Wildcats, Southridge Marching Raider Band and Forest Park Marching Rangers have all pushed ahead with their band camps since the state music organization called off its events last week.

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Their shows have each been modified or changed completely. According to the Indianapolis Star, with the ISSMA events canceled, it will be up to individual schools and school districts to decide if they’ll go forward with school-hosted invitationals or football marching band programs.

Contests aren’t on Jasper’s radar for 2020. Still, Chloe Allen, a senior clarinetist for the Marching Wildcats whose final season with the group has been significantly altered by the ongoing pandemic, doesn’t see this as a lost year.

Northeast Dubois High School sophomore Nova Nichols plays the drum during marching band practice at the school on Wednesday.

“I was a little sad, but after I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t really the end of the world because I feel like marching band isn’t just about the competitions and going to win a trophy,” she shared of her response to the canceled ISSMA events. “It’s more about the music and the friendships you make along the way.”

At Southridge, Jose Nunez, a senior trumpet player, echoed Allen’s sentiment. Missing out on those contests and the memories that come from them is devastating to him. But as one of the band’s oldest members, he’s doing his part as a leader to encourage his fellow performers and give them hope.

“And just give them a good experience,” he said of his goals. “Like a regular marching band season would.”

He won’t be able to cap off his last year with a state finals birth. But by pushing everyone in this modified season, he can help the band get there in 2021. Kenzie Roby, a junior clarinet player in the Marching Raider Band, said that when it’s all said and done, marching band memories are about the time spent with bandmates and not the awards that were won.

Northeast Dubois High School freshman Parker Schroeder, left, and freshman Trevor Giles talk during a water break at marching band practice at the school on Wednesday.

“I try to remind the people that are thinking low that everything happens for a reason,” she said. “And just to try and think of it as, even though we’re not going to competitions, we still get to be together. And at least we get to see each other, in a way, and do something.”

At Forest Park, Drum Major Elise Herndon was heartbroken. But the senior knows it’s for the best — to protect the many parents and students involved in the bands’ success from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

“I would say, personally, it’s very important to me because I love what I do, and I love being with people and making memories and laughing constantly,” Herndon said of what it means to her to still be able to practice and piece together a show.

She later added that “it’s important that we still have practices, because what would we do without it?”

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