Center Grove’s Marching Band Stands Out From the Competition

Writer / Julie Young

Photography Provided

Among marching band enthusiasts, there is a popular belief that the bigger the band the better they perform. No matter how often they may talk about “David vs. Goliath” or laud the “little band that could,” fans know the truth – size really does matter.

Thankfully, no one has told Center Grove about that unspoken rule.

“In Indiana, band classes are determined by the size of the school rather than the size of the band, which means we are a bit smaller than most of our competitors,” says Center Grove High School Marching Band director Kevin Schuessler. “Still, these kids have done an incredible job at honing their skills and I am very proud of them.”

With 135 members, the Center Grove High School Marching Band regularly goes up against schools with bands of 250 or more. Because they only take up a fraction of the field by comparison, they have learned to create memorable performances that resemble stage productions, don uniforms that eschew popular marching band stereotypes and are proving that they can stand out from the competition.

Center Grove’s current show “In Every Direction” features four musical selections including one of the most popular show tunes of all time, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The band won first place first place at both the Greenwood and Ben Davis invitational events, took gold at the ISSMA Regionals and came in 10th recently at the Bands of America Super Regional Championship with a score of 82.550. As they prepare for the State finals and Grand National events, their goal is to perform one percent better than they did yesterday and hopefully make it into one of the 12 coveted spots.

“I want to invest in the kids and make them the best that they can be,” Schuessler says. “The numbers are highly overrated. I tell the kids all the time that if they give their best on the field, they will be effective.”

And there is no doubt that they are effective. Schuessler says over the past few months, the band has been perfecting and polishing their show so that each performance is a crowd (and judge) pleaser. The compositions are challenging in order to give the kids room to grow as musicians, and he is always willing to work with band members who want to go over a piece or work out the kinks in their performance.

“I love it when that happens and I will turn away from the computer immediately in order to help them,” he says. “If I want to demand commitment from them, I have to be just as committed.”

Although the recognition at competitions is nice, what means the most to the director is the comments he gets from parents who say the car ride home from an event was full of good conversation and positive comments about a student’s experience in the band.

“The kids have a sense of self-accomplishment and a close group of friends that they can rely on,” Schuessler says. “Anything beyond that is the icing on top of the cake.”

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