Thursday, August 13, 2020
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BOA grand national champion: Tarpon Springs, Fla.

The Music For All Organization hosted the Bands of America Grand National Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in the heart of Indianapolis this weekend. The preliminary competition took place Wednesday through Friday, Nov 12 through 14, with the semifinals and finals competitions on Saturday, Nov 15.

From the semifinals, 12 bands were selected for the finals competition, which got underway at 8 PM and lasted until 11. Then came the announcement of the awards and placements.

Finishing order:

  1. Tarpon Springs H.S., Fla.
  2. Broken Arrow H.S., Okla. (Broken Arrow Ledger)
  3. Avon H.S., Ind. (Indianapolis Star)
  4. Carmel H.S., Ind. (Indianapolis Star)
  5. William Mason H.S., Mason, Ohio
  6. Flower Mound H.S., Texas
  7. Wando H.S., Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
  8. Homestead H.S., Fort Wayne, Ind.
  9. Kennesaw Mountain H.S., Kennesaw, Ga.
  10. Marian Catholic H.S., Chicago Heights, Ill.
  11. Union H.S., Tulsa, Okla.
  12. Lawrence Township H.S., Indianapolis, Ind.

O’Fallon Township High School from Illinois, led by Melissa Gustafson-Hinds, made it to the semifinals and placed 20th.

Other Illinois bands that participated in the festival but didn’t make the semifinal cut are shown here, along with their placement in the preliminary competition:

  • Lake Park H.S., Roselle, 34th
  • Lockport Township H.S., 43rd
  • Victor J Andrew H.S., Orland Hills, 51st
  • Collinsville H.S., 75th
  • Herscher H.S., 84th

No bands from Maryland high schools competed in the Grand National Championships for Bands of America this year.

We have discussed the idea of competition in the fine arts a great deal on these pages. For now, we leave you with the thoughts of Bands of America on this subject:

Competition is woven into the very fabric of America and has helped to foster the development of has helped to develop the nation into a global leader. Bands of America and Music for All believe that competing is a great motivator and provides amazing opportunities for learning life-lessons. The essence of competition is in the striving for performance excellence and being held accountable for learning. If the focus is on the learning, the competitive climate will be a source extremely valuable in life. On the other hand, the negativity associated with “winning at all costs” will be a detriment to personal growth. Winning is certainly a monumental benchmark, as is any measurement in the competitive arena. Performing your very best in competition is also a benchmark, as is competing with the very best programs. By choosing to participate in competition, individuals and groups have already “won” simply by being highly motivated.

We believe this misses the point a little. There is no educational value in winning a competition, but we support the idea behind these huge festivals. There is value in students seeing and appreciating the hard work of other students, in directors seeing the hard work of other schools, and that includes hard work on a marching band or any other educational endeavor. That, not competition, is the true value of Bands of America and these festivals.

So when BOA claims that “the essence of competition is in the striving for performance excellence,” we beg to differ. We believe the essence of collaboration, not competition, is in the striving for performance excellence. We hope, in the future, the Music For All organization recognizes what’s really going on at its festivals in terms of education and stops promoting a scoring system that has been shown to be invalid and unreliable.

Do you perform better when you compete or when you collaborate? See Common Core speaking and listening standard SL.11-12.1 for more information.

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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