By JENNIFER MEIER
Fresh off a state runner-up finish in Class B of last year’s state high school marching band finals, the Goshen High School Crimson Marching Band has a bigger challenge in 2013.
How do they feel about it?
“We are excited about it,” said Band Tom Cox. “Really.”
This year Goshen will move up to Class A competition, a distinction based on school enrollment. But that’s nothing new to Cox.
When Cox signed on as director in 2001, Goshen was performing in Class A. In 2007 when enrollment dropped, the Crimson marchers moved into Class B for one year. The band moved back to Class A for two years and has been in Class B since 2010. Last year the Crimson Marchers placed second at the ISSMA State Finals at Lucus Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“Last time we were in (Class) A we placed ninth at state,” Cox said. “It’s not the placing, but we hope we are better as a team of teachers. And we will do the best we can.”
A deeper pool
Whichever class Goshen finds itself in doesn’t change how it approaches the marching season, Cox said.
“Let’s just say that the pool is a little deeper in Class A,” he said. “There are great bands in Class B. But in Class A you are really going against the best in the country.”
Carmel High School, just north of Indianapolis, was named the BOA National Champion in 2012. Three other Indiana marching bands also placed in the top 10 at Nationals.
Whether in Class A or B, choosing a show is all about the music for Goshen staff.
“We are constantly listening to music and trying to find pieces that we like and music we think our kids would enjoy working on,” Cox said.
Cox and his staff heard a tune they all liked called Jacob’s Ladder to a Crescent.
“We mailed it off to our friends who are helping us and they liked it as well,” Cox said.
Those friends were drill designer Kevin Nix and musical arranger Will Pitts from Dallas, Texas.
“We saw this band at Grand Nationals that we really liked and wondered who helped them,” Cox said. “Through that band we contacted Nix and Pitts. They said they had never worked with an Indiana band, but they’d love to.”
The pair came on board last school year and Cox said working with them has been wonderful.
“The drill is different, but in a good, way,” Cox said. “It’s complex but achievable. It’s a very smart drill.”
Overall the music is classical with a piano piece in the second movement that Cox calls “beautiful”.
“We were looking for something visually to drive the show,” Cox said. “We thought, ‘Let’s do ladders!’ Expect to see a lot of ladders on the field.”
Goshen graduated 30 seniors and gained 55 freshmen, making this year’s band the largest yet with 187 marchers and color guard.
“The band grows little by little every year,” Cox said “We’ve had 13 years straight of growth. More kids are sticking with it, and we feel great about that.”
What bothers Cox most about this season is the transportation to and from contest and other programs. In the past the music department paid 30 percent of the cost. This year, due to budget cuts, the music department along with the rest of the school’s extra-curricular groups, must pay 100 percent of the cost of transporting students.
“Maybe people think that we’re still out there, so we must not be hurting too bad, but we are hurting,” Cox said. “We just won’t be able to do what we did last year for our kids in some respects.”
The cost for the band to make one trip to Indianapolis is more than $3,000.
“We make three trips a year at least,” Cox said. “And that’s just for the marching band. We have other music department programs and trips all year long.”
Cox said he is very happy to be in Goshen with supportive parents, students and boosters.
“But we don’t want to fundraise the community to death,” Cox said. “Nobody likes that. The kids didn’t join band to raise funds and teachers didn’t get into education to do that either. But we may have to. If it sounds like I am groveling for corporate sponsorship — I am.”
Cox said they did not raise band fees for the students this year.
“We didn’t charge any more to be in band this year than last year. Our whole idea is that we want to involve as many kids as we can,” Cox said. “We don’t want to cost anyone out of the band.”
Practice, so far, has been a positive experience for both directors and students.
“I think we were the only band in the area to have band camp during the only heat wave of the summer,” Cox said with a laugh. “I think the freshmen were wondering what in the world they had signed up for. But it’s has been going very well. We are very excited about this year’s show.”
Name: Jacob’s Ladder
Musical Selections: “The Silken Ladder Overture” by Rossini, “Paupieres de Sable” by Henry Torgue and “Serge Houppin and Silver Ladders” by John Estacio
Band Size: 187 (28 Color Guard)
Drum Majors: Alex Pobocik, Isabella Torres and Annika Bontrager
Soloists: Tyler Self, junior, electronic wind instrument; flute quartet
Band Directors: Tom Cox, Josh Kaufman, Max Mault
Staff: Takesha Stoll, color guard director; Adam Shull, visual; Jon Miller, visual; Ryan Johnson, percussion; Christian Good, percussion; Charlie Westra, brass; Sami Cox, guard; Allison Matthews, guard; Jessica Smith, guard; Karla Corral, guard; Kori Hartsough, guard, Kevin Nix, drill design; Will Pitts, music arranger.
Sept. 14 — Hosting the Goshen Invitational
Sept. 21 — Concord Invitational
Sept. 28 — Penn Invitational
Oct. 5 — BOA Regional at Ball State University
Oct. 12 — Elkhart Memorial Invitational
Oct. 19 — ISSMA Regional at Chesterton
Oct. 26 — ISSMA Semi-State at Ben Davis (Indianapolis)
Nov. 2 — ISSMA State at Lucas Oil (Indianapolis)