By Mark Ambrogi
Carmel High School sophomore drum major Caroline Heyl describes the marching band season as a roller coaster ride.
Fortunately for the CHS band, the roller coaster stopped with winning the Bands of America Grand National Championships title Nov. 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Carmel and Avon finished tied, but Carmel was awarded the title by virtue of winning the Outstanding General Effect ranking.
Carmel was the state runner-up to Avon Oct. 29 at Lucas Oil in the Indiana State School Music Association state finals.
“The comradeship and unity felt with the people in the band after our last performance was so much bigger than winning,” Heyl said. “We just got lucky with the outcome of our hard work.”
Carmel has participated in the national championships since 1993 and has been a national finalist for 21 consecutive years, starting in 1996. Carmel previously won national titles in 2005 and 2012.
The 2016 production was “Adagio-Presto.”
“We stress that the key to a championship performance is the preparation for the complete season and making sure that each performance is representative of the best the group can be at that specific date,” CHS marching band head director Chris Kreke said. “The Marching Greyhounds had an absolutely amazing performance at the Grand National Finals and certainly met all of our goals.”
Kreke has been with the program for 22 years, the last five as the head director.
“They rehearsed for a total of six months and hundreds of hours of rehearsal time to develop and perfect this production,” Kreke said. “They never quit working toward the ultimate goal of excellence in their performance right up to the last day of the season.”
The other drum majors are senior Liz Hamilton and juniors Alexis Noirot and Lio Krieger.
“Spending months on one final goal is extremely challenging, especially when there’s no tangible rewards for most of the season, but the final payoff of knowing you just performed something not just good, not great, but that you achieved excellence, is a feeling that is indescribable,” Krieger said. “I can’t stress enough that the real reward you get after six months of hard work is not a first-place medal, but rather everything you learn throughout the season, where all the members in the Carmel Bands learn about not only how to achieve excellence in music, but in life.”