Drum Majors 2020For many decades, the Pride of Plymouth marching band has been a focal point of the community and a source of pride for the Plymouth music department. The band annually earns Gold Award ratings at ISSMA events and advances from the Regionals contest to the Semi-State competition.

But, unfortunately, last fall saw COVID-19 shut down most music events around the state and across the country, and music students were left with many disappointing endings to the school year. The PHS winter guard did not get to complete their competition season and the jazz ensemble and concert bands did not get to attend the annual spring music festivals. As summer break was coming to an end, the marching band students faced another huge disappointment when the Indiana State School Music Association cancelled the 2020 competition season inclusive of all ISSMA marching band events. Additionally, most marching band invitational cancelled state-wide. Many senior students were worried that they would not have the chance to participate in the marching band activity their final year. Senior Sarah Collier said, “We truly are a band family and not being able to have my final season with the people I have been with for the last four years was very sad.”

“It was at this point that we knew we had to create ways for the students to continue to have outstanding music experiences, make friendships and memories in the process, and keep the traditions of our programs alive,” said Plymouth band director Bryan Ames. “The music staff planned and programmed a much shorter four week season in which the marching band would still perform at home football games and participate in the ISSMA Virtual Marching Band contests.” The students performed a socially-distanced program based called “We Will Rock You” with music by the British rock band Queen. The marching band members performed at two home football games and also participated in the annual senior night recognition ceremony at their first performance.

“The disappointment of not having a senior marching band season really hit me hard but, I’m grateful we had the opportunity to still be a part of a production my senior year,” said Selina Zheng.

The Indiana State School Music Association provided opportunities for marching band programs across the state to record their performances and submit them for “virtual” competitions that took place on the traditional weekends for ISSMA competitions. The Pride of Plymouth participated in these events on Saturday, October 10th, and Saturday, October 17th. The video submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges and participating schools were still awarded the traditional Gold, Silver or Bronze ratings. On both weekends of competition, the Pride of Plymouth earned a Gold Award rating and additionally earned a “With Distinction Award” for high visual performance scores both weekends.

“To say that I am proud of these kids would be a huge understatement. They faced a lot of hard situations in the last year. They have risen above all of them and overcome all obstacles in their path. They have made the best of every scenario they have faced and they have done it in a way that still brings pride to our program,” said Ames. “While these virtual competition experiences can never replace the excitement of a true marching band competition with a cheering audience, this opportunity allowed our students to have a purpose-driven season with goals we wanted to strive for and achieve. These virtual competitions also allowed our kids the opportunity to keep the traditions of our program alive and make a lot of memories and friendships in the process.”

Congratulations to the Pride of Plymouth marching band on another successful season and their recent Gold Award ratings at both ISSMA competitions.
PHOTO: The Pride of Plymouth drum majors (senior Brayden Mackey and sophomore Tessa Hutchinson) proudly display the Gold Award trophies and “With Distinction Award” medals for visual performance.