Friday, September 18, 2020
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Should Illinois Name a State Champ?

There has been rumbling for some time that Illinois doesn’t really crown a state champion for marching band.

The state is rich with fantastic marching bands, but because of their commitment to appear at certain school festivals, we have trouble getting all the best bands in one place for the same set of judges.

The set of judges used presents another problem. There are several systems in use, including BOA, USSBA, and so on. The scoring uses different systems, so first, a scoring system would have to be agreed upon. For example, consider one judging system’s descriptors for the range of score points, from the state of Texas, which I have uploaded to this site (PDF link).

Then, some of these school festivals, at which a lot of money is made, would have to be coalesced into a state tournament. This would not only bring more performing bands to these festivals, and thus more money, but it would also serve to standardize the scoring at these festivals, so a high school marching band program’s improvement over time could be assessed more accurately.

Texas does crown a state champion marching band in each of four classes, thanks to the University Interscholastic League, which is similar to the Illinois High School Association. The UIL—and the IHSA, except for marching bands—divide the schools into classes based on enrollment and provide basic rules for the contests. Their main Web site for music is here.

One thing about Texas is that the UIL also provides for the music education. Illinois has the Illinois Music Educators Association for that function, which establishes rules for other music contests, including providing a prescribed music list, and also divides Illinois’s schools up into districts based on geographic location.

The question put forth: Can Illinois (in conjunction with the IMEA for its “districts” based on location and the IHSA for its “classes” based on enrollment) organize and standardize a state championship for marching band? Is such a venture worthwhile? How would such a venture happen?

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Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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