Which high school band wins top honors in a statewide competition likely will be decided by less than a point.
The Marching Woodmen of Greenwood Community High School know that the difference between a state championship and runner-up can come down to a point or two, and students are feeling the pressure.
Students have stayed after practice to work on music or their steps, and they continue practicing at home. They know one misstep could cost them first place.
The Marching Woodmen and Irish Guard will compete for a Class B state title at the Indiana State School Music Association state finals Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The band has placed first or second in its class for the past six years and has earned a berth in the state finals for 31 straight years.
Four other of the 10 bands in Class B will perform shows similar in difficulty and skill, so the margin between the scores will be slim, director John Morse said.
He said Greenwood’s band directors designed a movement-based show this year to stand out, but other bands have made changes, too.
If one student is off a few steps or misses a couple of notes of music, that could mean the difference between a state championship and second place, Morse said.
He said the students are told “you all have to be accountable for everything in the show.”
That pressure likely helps the band perform better, according to senior drum major Rachel Kalugyer.
“It’s more exciting,” she said. “You know down to the end it will be a battle between you and the competition. You know you are competing with phenomenal bands.”
Parts of Greenwood’s show were changed slightly over the course of the season to keep the show fresh and in response to suggestions from judges in previous competitions. For example, directors sped up the tempo of the final part of the show after they felt it needed a change.
Students have stayed after practice to work with section leaders on the changes.
“Everyone has been a lot more energetic and excited,” senior flute player Ashton Gruhlke said. “It has gotten more intense.”
Section leaders and drum majors have reminded students at rehearsals this week that Saturday is what they have been working for all season.
Morse said the Marching Woodmen know their music and movements and are ready.