As the 2017 Bands of America season is approaching, we take a look back at the bands who made it all the way to the 2016 Grand National Finals.
Preparation is absolutely paramount when it comes to success as a marching program, and Indiana's Avon High School has learned to be ready for anything.
The band's ability to adapt to unforeseen challenges was the driving theme behind Avon's success at the 2016 Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indianapolis in November.
Avon director Matt Harloff could be constantly heard talking about preparing his band members for every possible scenario. In a way, he was setting them up with the answers before they even encountered the questions. That is how you can get a massive group of high school teenagers to bond and achieve at such high levels.
In the end, those tests the Avon band faced at a contest like Grand Nationals were the most treasured lessons it learned this past year.
"The memories and experiences the kids will have is more valuable than anything," Harloff said. "You can't get that in a standardized test. That's not going to happen."
Sometimes those lessons were difficult.
At the 2016 Grand Nationals, Avon ended up tying for first with Carmel (IN) High School. The tie was broken by the G.E. caption, and Carmel was awarded the national championship after finishing higher.
Separated by only 30 miles, the two bands regularly run into each other at local contests and have a unique relationship of pushing each other to new heights.
In a classy show of respect, the Avon band sat on the field during Carmel's victory stand-still performance as a sign of support for its fellow competitors and neighbors.
It was a situation that Harloff felt taught his young students something beyond just how to play their instruments. And it's only at places like Bands of America Grand Nationals where that opportunity exists.
UPCOMING 2017 BOA EVENTS:BOA Northeast Ohio Regional
BOA Dayton Regional
BOA Indianapolis Super Regional
BOA San Antonio Super Regional
BOA Grand Nationals
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