Red Regiment gives Wa-Nee something to talk about

NAPPANEE — Many marching bands work hard. Many do well but only 10 get to play at Lucas Oil Stadium each year as winners of the semi-state level — and that’s what NorthWood High School’s Red Regiment did, giving the Wa-Nee community something to talk about — and be proud of.
The band’s first outstanding accomplishment this year was to play their way to compete in the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) semi-state level against 20 other high school bands from the area in the Class C category. The 65 young musicians performed music of Pat Metheny Oct. 27 and wowed the judges enough to earn a spot in the top 10 bands who were invited to perform at the Indianapolis stadium Nov. 3.
Four-year NWHS Band Director Eric Criss explained what kind of critique is used to determine the winners.
“There are six judges — three for music (Individual, Ensemble and General Effect) and three for visual (Individual, Ensemble and General Effect) categories,” he said. “Judges evaluate the performance of individual students, how well the individuals execute their roles to create the ‘big picture’ and how well the marching and choreography coordinates with the music being performed.”
What kind of talent does it take and how hard does a student musician have to work to get a marching band that far? Criss explained that the students normally practice Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays after school but during competition time, they added Fridays to that rigorous schedule.
“All the students have made personal sacrifices to help our team get to this level.” Criss said. “A few examples include fall athletes who participate in both band and athletics. They share practice time with both band and their sport. We have two students who jumped into the competition show late to fill marching vacancies due to an injury and another due to school transfer. We have student leaders who organized weekly study groups for extra practice on their own.”
These achievements and efforts, though commendable, aren’t firsts for the school marching band’s history — this is the NWHS Red Regiment’s seventh ISSMA state finals appearance. It also isn’t as far as this particular group of students’ talents can take them. In June they will be traveling to Orlando, Fla. to perform at Walt Disney World. For now though, the competing is done and the students’ dedication to this year’s goals have been credited, realized and talked about.
“Our strength is our students,” Criss said. “The students have worked hard together as a team, are united, and on the same page with what we want to achieve. … It is a blessing to have so many students, parents, staff, administrators and community members that support the performing arts to make this possible.”