Grand Nationals

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Last weekend I made my first trip to the spectacle known as the Bands of America Grand Nationals. It is safe to say that this is the biggest marching band event in the US. It’s funny that in all the years I have been teaching marching bands, this is the first time I have worked with a band that went to grand nats. I was looking forward to it, despite the timing. The week was extremely busy, with youth band auditions and preparing to get them youth band up and running for the season. I had brass band rehearsal Wednesday night and Jesse had a rehearsal with green hope Thursday afternoon in Indiana, so that meant and all night drive. I sat and watched green hope rehearse in the freezing cold and a little snow. I am glad I got to seen them, since I knew I could not see them perform in Lucas oil. After the rehearsal we hightailed it to Indy ind checked into the hotel. I had a rehearsal first thing Friday morning with Cary, so I went straight to bed, around 7 pm.

Friday was going to be a long day. Cary had practice from 10-1 or so and a 6:30 performance at Lucas oil stadium. It was really cold so I did a nice long warm up with the brass. There was some snow on the ground. Man was it cold. We got to the stadium and went thru warm up and then performed and had the strongest show of the year. The band made a ton of progress the last two weeks and it showed in their performance. After the show I went up to the Yamaha box suite to watch the rest of the bands in the evening. At the end of the night they announced the bands moving on to semi finals. Out of 92 bands they choose 34 I think. Cary had never made semi finals before, out of maybe four trips to Indy, so there could have been no true expectation of moving on. However, they called Cary’s name in the last block of names. So sweet. In the draw for times to perform for semis, we got a great time, 1:30. What this actually means, is that we were in the top 22 bands. Turns out we were in 20th place after prelims. Out of 92 bands. We were in 2nd place in the AAA class. So excited.

Saturday was a wash and repeat. Early rehearsal then on to stadium to perform. It was much warmer outside. Our semis performance was just as strong as prelims, maybe with more energy. Two very solid shows and a very respectable showing. A different judging panel on Saturday had us placed a little lower, at 28th. It was a little disappointing to drop so far with a solid performance but that’s the way it goes. It was fun watching finals and seeing this amazing bands. Sunday we got up early and drove home. It was a very long weekend but a rewarding one. I am so happy with the way the Cary brass line has pulled together in the last few weeks. We had a lot of fun in warm ups and made some serious progress in building that line. I hope it is something we can build on next year.

Here is a video of the intro from semi finals:

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