For show or score, bands want more

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Jasper freshman Jesse Fromme, left, played the saxophone during the Indiana State School Music Association Scholastic Class Preliminaries and Open Class Invitational at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper on Saturday. Jasper, along with the Forest Park, Southridge and Northeast Dubois marching bands participated in the first-ever event. Jasper, Forest Park and Southridge will advance to the regional band competition Saturday. More photos are here.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Emotions were high at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium at a new kind of marching band competition Saturday.

Three local bands were excited and one was downtrodden as members left the field at the Indiana State School Music Association show. Instead of the usual district competition, this year saw the first Scholastic Class Preliminaries and Open Class Invitational in Jasper.

Small bands that opted to join the new Scholastic Class fought to advance to the class’ state finals at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis on Oct. 26. The Northeast Dubois Marching Jeeps was among them. After a strong performance of their show, “Vision Quest,” the Marching Jeeps gathered on the sidelines of the field to await the scores.

Eighth-grader Sarha Thomas, a color guard member, was visibly shaking as she waited.

“It was amazing,” she said of the show she and her classmates had put on just moments earlier. “I did a really good performance.”

The tears started rolling as soon as the announcer called “Silver” for the Jeeps’ score. They fell just short of heading to the final competition, but first-year Band Director David Fox was proud of each of his students anyway.

“A couple kids bumped into each other, but other than that, it was very well executed,” he said of the show, which features Native American music and is based on the culture’s rite of passage into adulthood. “I think they did a really good job. The area’s great. We always cheer for each other. That’s the nice thing about Jasper.”

The theme of the performance might help some of the students move past their disappointment in the coming days. Fox said he discussed the idea behind a vision quest with the students this fall, and they were all excited to learn more.

“It was about how people have to kind of move on and grow up and get over stuff,” Thomas said.
The contest was a joyful occasion for Forest Park, Southridge and Jasper students, all of whom received gold ratings Saturday. However, their scores at the invitational did not affect their advancement to the regional competition this coming weekend.

“That was the best show we’ve done this season,” Jasper senior and percussionist McKala Troxler said as she changed out of her uniform. She said that even though the performance didn’t count in the defending state champion band’s journey to Lucas Oil Stadium, it was still important for the students to put their best feet forward with a rousing rendition of their show, “Angelic Voices.”

“The judges here, we could have them later,” Troxler explained.

The crowd went wild as the home band took the field to start its show. The performance ended with all of the band members approaching the sideline nearest the bleachers, kneeling before the crowd and playing one final crescendo.

“I couldn’t stop smiling. The crowd stood up and cheered,” said vibraphone player Bailee Moser, a senior.

Band Director James Goodhue said he used the exhibition show as an opportunity to make changes before the regionals.

“I thought the performance went well, as far as I could tell or see,” he said. “Getting to perform here for our own crowd, that’s a cool thing.”

The Marching Wildcats received distinction awards for exceptional music, visuals and general effect
Nearby in the parking lot south of the field, sweat poured down the faces of the Southridge color guard after their show, “MASKerade.” The band members played four songs corresponding to the colors of the giant feathered, glittery masks that were set up on the field for the guard to dance around.

“We’ve made some serious improvement,” said Cassie Berger, a sophomore color guard member.
The band treated Saturday’s performance as if it were “do or die,” according to Director Lannie Butler.

“I think it was one of our best performances,” he said. “The kids were really full of energy, and I think they showed it.”

Southridge received special distinction awards for music and visuals.

The Marching Rangers of Forest Park also had reason to celebrate. Band Director Chad Gayso could not attend because of his brother’s wedding, so after their show, color guard instructor Joe Martinez gave the pep talk.

“I think the work you’ve been putting in the last two weeks especially is starting to pay off,” he said. “It’s a slow burn to the end, and right now there is much wick to burn still. We are nowhere near the end of our candle.”

Junior Noah Saylor, who plays the trumpet, said the performance was a test of the band’s ability to play in less than ideal conditions.

“This is the only show that we performed this year that takes place on grass,” he said. “Yesterday, we performed at a football game during halftime at our school, and Mr. Gayso said, ”˜This is a test run for tomorrow because you’re going to be marching on a field that’s not perfect.’”

Forest Park received distinction awards for music, visuals and general effect.

On Saturday, Southridge will perform at the regional contest at Center Grove High School in Greenwood at 3:07 p.m. in Class C. Forest Park and Jasper will perform at Evansville Central High School at 1:23 p.m. CDT and 5:04 p.m. CDT, respectively.

Contact Claire Moorman at

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