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This year, we wanted to take a closer look at some of the band programs who would be in our sights all season long. Through interviews with directors and designers, we get a look behind-the-curtain of some of the best band programs in the country.
These programs are going out of there way to push themselves into difficult competitive situations, situations that these programs have never seen.
We dedicated a writer for FloMarching and formerly Drum Corps International, Jeff Griffith, to spend his time talking to the minds behind the decisions. To tell the story of WHY this show, WHY this schedule, or whatever the case.
O'Fallon Township (IL)
In 2017, it wasn’t hard to tell when O’Fallon Township was on the field.
That’s because you couldn’t see the field. It was covered — truly covered, from end zone to end zone and sideline to sideline — in a white tarp, that provided the “White Canvas” for which the band’s production was named.
“It’s kind of a winterguard type of thing,” O’Fallon director Melissa Gustafson-Hinds said. “You can have the theme down there — a clean slate, and you put the marching arts on top of it. I’m a risk taker by nature in my life, and I thought, ‘Why not? Just go for it.’”
It was bold. It was unique.
In preparation for Avon High School’s 2018 show design process, Daniel Wiles found himself at a Petco.
Yes, a Petco.
Wiles and the design staff at Avon had a vision — an unorthodox, creative vision. Using some of the resources from his pet store shopping spree, Wiles realized that idea in the form of a scale model.
A scale model of a fish tank.
“I bought all of this stuff, I don’t know, like, $300, $400 worth of stuff,” Wiles said. “Just rock sculptures and all these flowers and all of the stuff that you’d put in an aquarium. And I went home and laid out this green tarp that I got, and I started setting up.”
“I was like, ‘This is it, this is a great idea,’” he said. “‘We’ve got to do this.’”
The 2018 stage for Avon was set, quite literally.
The band’s appearance at this year’s Grand Nationals starts bright and early; brighter and earlier than any other competitor, in fact. Prosper will open Thursday’s portion of prelims competition with a performance time of 7:45 AM.
On one hand—the obvious—that’s a quick, exhausting turnaround from a Wednesday afternoon flight. Prosper will start Thursday rehearsals around 5 AM, a little over two hours before the members’ classmates will begin arriving at school back home in Texas.
“In making our decision in May (to go to Indianapolis), that gave us the unfortunate first on spot, so that’s the other tough thing about this,” Alstrin said. “We’ve got to get our kids up early and get them going and try to make a strong impression on that first showing for the panel.”
For the group from a small town in Missouri, achieving the status of St. Louis Super Regional finalist was the pinnacle. It marked the completion of their 2017 competitive season—in mid-October, as had always been the case in years prior.
“It was magical,” Baur said. “I know there are people that make finals at a thing like that all the time. For us, that was our first time ever making finals.”
That moment set a new standard. It created momentum.
And now, because of that momentum, it’s no longer the benchmark.
“For us, it’s a whole new ballgame,” Baur said.