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Grant County Marching Band Practicing Before State Finals - photo courtesy of Annette Crimmins Photography

Grant County Marching Band Practicing Before State Finals – photo courtesy of Annette Crimmins Photography

My son plays percussion in the Grant County High School Marching Band. If you’ve never been in or had a kid in marching band you don’t realize the insane amount of hard work these kids do for performances that last about ten minutes.

Marching band practices begin the week after July 4th. The first week is fairly mild focusing on each section with four-hour practices. Week two increases the time with five days of eight-hour practices. Then week three hits encompassing five days of twelve-hour practices. By the way, all practices outside are on black top in the parking lot of the school.

Once they’ve gotten through band camp and school begins, the practices are four to five a week after school for three to four hours each. They will spend hours repeating thirty seconds worth of the show to get it perfected. Practices do not stop until after state finals which means they will have practiced four to six times a week for four months. During this time the marching band has also played at five football games, a homecoming parade, four competitions, one exhibition, and the regional.

Here is what a competition day looks like:

  • 8am-10am – Rehearse
  • 10am-11am – Load equipment and eat lunch (band parents in the equipment caravan will leave after loading. This year’s caravan included a food trailer (because we have to feed everybody), tool trailer (because things break), equipment/instrument trailer, two stage trailers, and a four-wheeler/Kubota trailer not including two more four-wheelers in the back of pickups (because we have to get everything from camp, to warmup, and to the field).
  • Kids leave for competition.
  • Caravan arrives at competition and immediately begin setting up.
  • Kids arrive 30 – 45 minutes later. Help finish setting up stages and equipment then go change into uniforms for preliminary show.
  • At designated time the band goes to warm up area for forty minute warm up.
  • After warm up it’s on to the field. The band has a fifteen minute time slot to set up equipment, perform show, and leave field. There is a penalty for going beyond the time.
  • After performance we go back to camp, the kids change out of uniforms and go back to field for prelim awards.
  • There is a break between prelims and finals where the kids and parents get to relax and eat dinner, but then it starts all over.
  • Kids go change into uniforms.
  • At designated time the band goes to warm up area for forty minute warm up.
  • After warm up it’s on to the field. The band has a fifteen minute time slot to set up equipment, perform show, and leave field. There is a penalty again for going beyond the time.
  • After performance we go back to camp, the kids change out of uniforms and go back to field for final awards which are usually after 9:30pm.
  • Then everything is loaded up and headed back to school.
  • Arrive back at school usually sometime after midnight. Yes, I said after midnight, if not closer to 1am.

Tomorrow the Grant County Marching Band will be playing at the Kentucky KMEA state competition in class 4A. Last year they made it to third place in their division at the state finals. This year I can see them going further. They will first have to compete against sixteen other bands for the top four spots to go on to finals. Then it’s on to Eastern Kentucky University that evening for the final competition.

It’s a long season starting in July, but these kids, and the parents and band directors who support them, know it is all worth it in the end. The kids have worked hard memorizing the music and marching patterns. Now it all comes down to one last Saturday to show how good they have become.

Below is a video from their regional show where they made second place. I can’t help but become emotional when I watch them.

 

Update: Grant County Marching Band State Finals Part One

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