Plymouth band reflects back on 2010 success

PLYMOUTH — As the new year begins, Plymouth High School Band students, staff and parents look back and reflect on a landmark year of student success stories from the passing year. 
Director Bryan Ames said, “2010 brought many highlights and record achievements for the band program,” including Solo and Ensemble state finals, a winter guard state championship, winter drumline state finals, marching band state finals, and a state and national recognition were some of the highlights of the band’s record-setting year.
In January and February, the band saw numerous students advance to the Indiana State School Music Association’s Solo and Ensemble State Finals. Nearly 20 students participated in the event and several students earned the top honor of a gold award rating at the event.
In March, the newly-formed Winter Performance Ensemble (a combination of the former winter drumline and winter color guard) competed in both the Indiana High School Color Guard Association and Indiana Percussion Association’s winter competition circuits. The group competed in Class 2A in the IPA circuit and advanced to its first-ever Class 2A state finals competition. At state finals, the ensemble placed seventh in the state. The group then competed against 35 other high schools in the IHSCGA. Class 3A Divisional Finals were where the group won its first-ever state championship placing first out of all 36 schools in its class. 
“That was an amazing day,” said Ames. “We knew we had a chance to do really well at the finals event, but we really put on a great show that day and managed to push the entire group to the top of the field of state competitors. To place first out of that many schools was an amazing achievement, especially considering how young our group was.”
Also in March, the PHS Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo competed in the Indiana State School Music Association’s annual contest held at LaPorte High School. Both competing groups from Plymouth earned the top honor of a gold award rating.
April saw the success of the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble at the ISSMA concert band competition with both bands earning the top rating of a gold award. The Symphonic Band also earned an additional gold rating in the sight-reading division.
Due to the bands’ successful Gold Ratings at all ISSMA events, the month of May brought the presentation of the ISSMA “All-Music Award” being presented to the Plymouth band. This award is only presented to the top band programs after earning solid Gold Ratings at every ISSMA event for one year. This was the seventh consecutive year that the band program has earned this prestigious award.
The end of the school year again brought great news as the American Music Conference named Plymouth as the winner of the “Top 100 Communities for Music in America Award” presented annually to communities across the country with outstanding music programs and booster organizations. 
“Plymouth was the only community in our state to receive this award this year, and that speaks volumes about the support that the fine arts receive in Plymouth,” said Ames.
July saw the beginning of the marching band season with three weeks of band camp before school began in August. After much success in the early season competitions, the marching season was topped off with the bands highest-ever rankings at the ISSMA regional and semi-state competitions. The band then advanced out of the Semi-State event to make its first-ever state finals appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium. 
In its first trip to state finals, the band placed in the prestigious “top 5” — placing fifth out of the 10 bands in Class C. 
“This was one of the proudest moments in my teaching career. To hear our name announced as a state finalist after all the hard work and effort that the kids put in this season was amazing,” Ames said. “The sound of the students and parents cheering and screaming in the moments after we were called as a finalist was overwhelming and very emotional.”
The conclusion of the year brought only more great news for the band  program as the Pride of Plymouth marching band was recently selected to represent the State of Indiana in the upcoming National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. The Pride of Plymouth will be marching down Capitol Avenue in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day this coming spring.
“This was an incredible way to end 2010,” said Ames. “This has been such an outstanding year for the program and to be selected to represent our entire state in this parade just truly amazing. I am sure that the students in the music program will represent our community and state well in Washington and we are looking forward to an outstanding and educational trip.”
He added, “Congratula-tions to everyone involved with the Pride of Plymouth Bands on such an outstanding year! Hopefully, 2011 will be an equally notable year.”