CHS Marching Band Takes Home 2018 Bands of America National Championship

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A culture of excellence, teamwork and community support are what Mike Pote, Director of Bands and his staff of Chris Kreke, Marching Band Director, and Co-directors Andy Cook and Kyle Young attribute to the continued success of the Carmel High School Band. Between them, the four instructors share a combined total of more than 80 years of experience and together have witnessed Carmel winning championships before.

However, sweeping the awards at the 2018 Bands of America National Championship held November 7-10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was especially rewarding.

“This win was special and had its own unique qualities,” Kreke says. “We now have won five national championships since 2005 but the last three have been consecutive. And this year we won every caption award.”

Caption awards are recognition for excellence in different aspects of a band. These pieces of the whole are Outstanding Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect. They all came together for Carmel as the band performed “Voyage to Valhalla”, a depiction of a journey to the mythical Nordic final resting place of courageous warriors. Complete with a Viking ship that seemed to float through water, precision formations and the addition of orchestra students, the production captivated the entire audience.

So how does a school band reach such a superior level of achievement while competing with high schools from all over the United States? First, according to Pote, is the students’ high level of commitment. Rehearsals for the next competition season begin in June and by November the time spent practicing outside of school reaches more than 550 hours.

“In the summer there is lots of work but no performances,” Pote says. “The older students encourage the younger ones and keep them going. Later, we don’t talk about winning but about pursuing excellence and the pride they feel when walking off the field. Trophies are out of our control, but we can control what the quality of our performance is.”

Another aspect of the band’s success is the teamwork that exists between the staff, students and parents. As a band parent for five years, Jennifer Carson realized right from the beginning that everyone involved in the organization makes newcomers feel immediately connected.

“Every parent helps in some capacity and some spend as many hours doing band work as they do on their real jobs,” Carson says.

“The three middle schools that feed into our program are also part of the team,” Cook adds. “They are among the best in the country for getting their students ready for high school band.”

The last facet is the Carmel community who supports the band by participating in their fundraisers such as the car raffle, the car wash and community night.

“Each time a resident buys a raffle ticket or attends the car wash, they are not only supporting us but also the Carmel community and the arts in general,” Pote says.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students, parents, staff and community,” Young adds. “We are humbled by the history this band has made, by the awards it’s won. I feel it has been possible by the 100 percent support we feel from the administration and all involved in the Carmel Band Program.”

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