INDIANAPOLIS — The Bands of America organization late Saturday night named the marching band from Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Grand National champion for the third time, based on the band’s metaphorically titled field show, “Wild Blue Orchid.”
In all, 12 bands performed in the finals, based on receiving the top scores in the semifinal round, which took place earlier on Saturday. Here’s how they finished in the finals round:
- Broken Arrow H.S., Broken Arrow, Okla.
- Avon H.S., Avon, Ind.
- Hebron H.S., Hebron, Texas
- William Mason H.S., Mason, Ohio
- Carmel H.S., Carmel, Ind.
- The Woodlands H.S., The Woodlands, Texas
- Round Rock H.S., Round Rock, Texas
- Marian Catholic H.S., Chicago Heights, Ill.
- Harrison H.S., Kennesaw, Ga.
- Blue Springs H.S., Blue Springs, Mo.
- Keller H.S., Keller, Texas
- Homestead H.S., Homestead, Ind.
Other Finals Awards
Hebron received the trophy for Outstanding Music Performance, while Broken Arrow won the trophy for Outstanding General Effect.
The concept of general effect, as it applies to marching band shows, simply means the show was effective—entertaining, well integrated and appealing, and so on. For example, Broken Arrow begins its show with huge blue flags that twirl and fill the field with color. The show integrates music with rapid and extended runs in the woodwinds, played as the visual display features curves that look like flowers that are dotted with the huge and well-built structures.
The group brings it together in a massive block, just long enough to punch out a few cadences, and then moves into a playful dance, with band members tilting the plumes on their hats left, right, left, right, etc.
Broken Arrow and Avon tied for the Outstanding Visual Performance trophy in the finals round.
Enrollment Class Championships
In Class 1A, Adair County High School from Columbia, Kentucky, won first place and all caption trophies (Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, and Outstanding General Effect). Beechwood High School from Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, came in second, and Saint James School from Montgomery, Alabama, came in third.
In Class 2A, Marian Catholic won first place and all caption trophies. Kiski Area High School from Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, came in second place, and Miamisburg High School from Miamisburg, Ohio, came in third.
In Class 3A, Harrison won first place and all caption trophies. Second place went to Franklin High School from Franklin, Tennessee, who finished their field show with an inspired and inspiring performance of “Amazing Grace.” Dobyns-Bennett High School from Kingsport, Tennessee, came in third.
Finally, in Class 4A, Hebron came in first and won the trophy for Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding General Effect. I talked to a parent of a senior in the band just before the finals performance. She told me her son was savoring every moment of his experience at Grand Nationals, which would be his last. As Hebron had never appeared in the finals round at a Grand Nationals championship, I’m sure her son is thinking he saved the best for last.
Broken Arrow won the Outstanding Visual Performance trophy in Class 4A but finished behind Hebron in the semifinals, despite turning that around in the finals. Avon finished third.
Firsts at Grand Nationals
This year’s Grand Nationals, the organization’s 40th, included bands from Hawaii and Alaska, which has never happened before. And the appearance of Blue Springs in the finals round marked the first appearance of a Missouri band in the finals round at Grand Nationals.
Bands of America, which is a program of the nonprofit Music For All, also announced the first “Advocacy In Action” award, which went to the Country Music Association Foundation and its Music Makes Us program, based in Nashville.
The CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere, “inspiring a love for music in people around the world through the charitable giving of the country music community.” The foundation has given more than $11 million to organizations to enhance the lives of students through music.
It has a special presence in the public schools of Nashville. Since 2006, more than $7.5 million has been donated to support an effort to strengthen music education in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Grant funds from the CMA Foundation have been used to purchase instruments and music equipment and to build and equip an instrument repair shop.
“Through this unique partnership with Metro Schools and the Nashville Public Education Foundation, CMA has provided thousands of instruments, enabling the city to accelerate access to quality music education for more students,” according to the foundation’s website.
Throughout its 40-year history, BOA has placed a special emphasis on the same kind of “reaching out” that the CMA Foundation espouses.
“I don’t have to convey to teachers at schools who are here how valuable this experience is,” said Eric Martin, president and CEO of MFA, in an interview during a break in the semifinal round. But, “there are so many kids that aren’t here, and I wish we could find a way to allow them to have that experience.”
One way MFA addresses this part of its mission is through the Indianapolis Public School championship. Since 2003, BOA has hosted the “contest” on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium the day before the Grand Nationals spectacle begins. Mr Martin said he has seen bands with no more than 12 wind musicians step out on the artificial turf in a domed stadium, an experience with their friends they’ll remember their whole lives.
By holding up the CMA Foundation as the first example of advocacy in action, MFA hopes to advance successful and effective advocacy for music education programs even further. Last week, the CMA Foundation accepted a $1 million donation from country music star Darius Rucker, which will help with instrumental music programs in Nashville schools.
“Having access to an instrument in an environment that encourages creative expression is such a powerful thing,” Mr Rucker said. “A defining moment in my life was when my mother gave me my first guitar—I can honestly say it completely changed my life. In that moment, a new-found passion and creativity were born where skills like writing and poetry took on a new role. So, to know that we, as artists with CMA, are helping kids get the option for that kind of discovery is really incredible.”
Mr Martin himself said instrumental music was also important in his life as a student. He was a clarinet player and one of seven African-American students at a middle school in Mississippi that had never been integrated. His band teacher, Dr Sidney McKay, who was inducted in April into the Tennessee Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame, was his hero.
One year at the IPS championship, Mr Martin saw Jay Webb standing in the stadium. Mr Webb has been the band director at three-time Grand National champion Avon since 1993.
“I said to him, ‘What are you doing here?’,” Mr Martin recalled. “And he said, ‘Well, I saw the Broad Ripple band years ago, and I thought that maybe I could help them and reach out to them. So I designed the show for them. I gave it to them.'”
Bands of America programs, he said, are “the kind of thing where people care. And they really want to be helpful and successful in reaching out for students to have the experiences. They may not be serving that community directly, but they really care, and they want us to reach out.”
And so the Advocacy In Action awards were born. By using its forum—the 13,400 or so kids and their families, teachers, friends, and bus drivers who came to Indianapolis this weekend—MFA looks to extend advocacy over the next 40 years and beyond.