GREENSBURG – Musically-inclined students from all three county high schools have come together to form a county marching band, promoting cooperation between schools that more typically are rivals on the field.
Jacob Crossley, North Decatur High School (NDHS) band teacher and director of the marching band, said the idea was posed to him by some of his band parents in January. However, NDHS did not have enough students to form a marching band. Unwilling to forgo the idea all-together, Crossley contacted his counterparts at South Decatur High School (SDHS), Noah Leininger, and Greensburg Community High School (GCHS), Jeff Maupin, to see if they were interested.
All the band teachers were up to the task, as were students from the three schools, and the Decatur County Marching Band (DCMB) was formed. The group has about 45 members from the county’s high schools, as well as seven instructors, including the three full time directors.
Crossley is the main director and handles all the administrative tasks for the marching band. Leininger does a lot of the music work and Maupin is a percussion specialist. Chris Crowder runs the band’s visual program. Adam Ruble helps with the visual program and brass section. And Andre Williams helps with the color guard.
The marching band has been working since school let out and have been practicing about four hours a day since the end of June. The band’s show is about seven minutes long, Crossley said, and includes three different movements. The band currently plays competitive marching band music that is not related to popularly famous tunes.
“We want music that is accessible to the audience members in that we can do sort of a theatrical production. There’s a storyline and you can kind of follow it around,” Crossley said. “Our show this year is called ‘As One.’ We have all these different parts that are coming together as one big group.”
Crossley said the band members’ movements reflect the show’s theme. In the beginning, band members start out in a big scatter set, spread out everywhere and throughout the show, the scattering becomes organized as the group comes together “As One.”
The band’s directors are pleased with the progress and unity the students have shown so far, as well as their dedication.
“It’s been incredible,” Crossley said. “The amount of progress we’ve made is actually a lot better than we thought we would do just because of the rivalry between the three schools. We were concerned that the students wouldn’t work well together, but they’ve actually broken down a lot of those barriers and they work together like they’ve known each other for years.”
NDHS junior Michaela Lawrence has been playing since fifth grade and said meeting students from the other schools has been her favorite part of marching band so far.
“I think just getting more connected with other people, not only with other grades in my school, but other schools,” Michaela said when asked what she liked about DCMB. “Getting more friendships with them.”
South Decatur junior Carl Kroger, who has also played since fifth grade, agreed, citing his favorite thing as, “all the new people I meet.”
Greensburg eighth grader Hannah Messer said, “I like being part of a big group and being able to play, to express our playing.”
While Crossley once worried about the rivalry between the schools and how it would affect the DCMB as a whole, that is a worry of the past. Now, the group truly plays and practices as one, regardless of where students attend classes.
“It’s one of the few, if not the only, activity that the three schools are currently working on together right now. This is really the only thing, and its competitive too. We’re competing against 49 other schools at the state fair,” Crossley said. “We’re shooting for 16th, which would be a state finalist. That would be fantastic.”
The DCMB took part in a competition Friday in Noblesville, finishing ninth out of 21 schools. The band will be performing at the State Fair this weekend, and DCMB directors have high hopes for the outcome.
Though the rivalry between schools turned out to be a non-issue, that does not mean the DCMB has been without challenges in its first season. Crossley said the band has spent between 50 and 60 hours teaching marching fundamentals, and the group could still use 50 or 60 more to ensure everyone is moving in the correct way.
“Everything visual that they’re doing is something we have to essentially spend an hour on every single day,” Crossley said. “Musically, we have to dedicate a lot of time to teaching – not teaching notes, but how to play with the right sound, blending together. It’s really challenging because there’s three different directors with three different philosophies, so we have a lot of students that do things differently. We’re trying to come together ‘as one’ to make one philosophy where we’re teaching the same way. We’re teaching the kids to do the same thing consistently so we’re not doing things differently from one another.”
Challenges aside, Crossley said the students bring a lot of strengths to the DCMB table. “Their work ethic is unquestionable. That’s the benefit of working with band students versus math and English students – these students want to be here. They want to be good.”
Crossley said he has instilled the “desire to be excellent” in his students at NDHS, as Leininger and Maupin have done with their students as well.
“Not just being good enough to get by, but always wanting to push themselves to get better,” Crossley said.
DCMB members will continue marching to the beat of their own drum (major) as they work on improving their skills on the field. The support of their individual schools and the community as a whole will be important to each member as they compete at the Indiana State Fair in the hopes of becoming a state finalist.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111x7004; email@example.com
Decatur County Marching Band