By JEROD CLAPP
FLOYDS KNOBS —
On Saturday, their day will begin at 3:30 a.m. After taking care of the logistics of getting trailers full of musical instruments and buses full of students on the road, they hope to stop for food somewhere after Columbus.
But for most of the Highlander Marching Band and Emerald Guard members, they’re used to the routine of heading to the state finals marching band contest.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Highlanders are headed to the Indiana State School Music Association finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with an anticipated performance time of 10:39 a.m. For the band’s director, Harold Yankey, it’s his 12th trip with the school. This year, the group is taking its show “Currents” to the competition.
He said while he and many of his students have gone before, he still gains something from each trip that can be applied to the next.
“I have a son that’s in music school to become a band director,” Yankey said. “I told him with experience, a lot comes to you, but it’s like a spiral staircase. The father up you go, the farther out you can see. You get a lot more perspective.”
He said there’s at least three grades of students in the band who’ve never not been to state. With that experience behind them, he thinks they’re ready to take on this year’s competition.
He said in years past, inexperienced students were nervous about performing at such a high level in front of so many people.
“There was a period of time where they may have been too psyched up,” Yankey said. “Five years ago when we started this round, none of them had ever gone, so they were still nervous. They know the routine, they know what it’s like to perform in front of 20,000 to 25,000 people.”
Krista Carlile, a senior percussionist, has been with the band all of the last four state competitions. She said the ability to go every year has been awesome, but she’s still not any less anxious about the competition.
“If anything, I’m more nervous this time because it’s the last time I get to perform with my best friends,” Carlile said. “Normally, I’m not nervous, but I’m getting more nervous as the day approaches.”
Last year, the band placed seventh overall in the state finals and in 2011 and 2010, it placed sixth. This year, she thinks they’ll improve.
“I’m just excited to go with my drumline because it’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve been really good,” Carlile said. “This year, Brantley [Heath, percussion instructor] came in and made us really good.”
Sloane Lewis, the band’s field commander for the last three years and a senior, said no matter where the band places this year, she’s already pleased with how the show’s coming along.
“I think we’re going to give a great performance,” Lewis said. “Even from the beginning of this season, I feel like this is the best we’ve ever been.”
Yankey said there’s still a lot to do between now and Saturday, from rehearsing as much as possible to making final adjustments to the show — and the music end needs some polishing up. And last but not least, parents and band boosters have stepped up to help with a lot of the other aspects that go into a successful performance.
Yankey said from putting posters throughout the school to encourage the band and making sure it has food for the trip, they’ve given him and other instructors time to focus on making the show as perfect as possible.
Mike Sobieski, a parent of one of the percussionists of the same name, said though they’ve done a lot to make sure the students have a successful trip, he hopes the performers are the ones that are recognized for their hard work.
“We want to be in the background,” Sobieski said. “There are so many fantastic bands in the state of Indiana. To say you’ve made it five years straight to state, that’s not something many can say. The kids work hard and they deserve it.”
On the web:
For schedules and more information on the competition, go to www.issma.net.