The Triton Central marching band is turning things up a bit this fall.
In an effort to be more inclusive, both for the participating students and the community at large, the band is focusing on creating different shows that will be performed during the soccer team’s halftime shows.
The band will not compete on Saturdays at the Indiana State School of Music Association competitions. But band director Joey Shepherd said the band will attend the festival class, a non-competitive class, at two ISSMA events.
The Triton Central band will perform three shows during halftime football games.
The first will be the music from the Disney movie “Encanto,” he said. The band will play a US military medley to celebrate the community’s military night. The medley will include five of the six branches, excluding the Space Force, Shepherd said with a chuckle.
And the last two games will feature boy band music from BTS and Backstreet Boys.
Shepherd said the decision to perform “Encanto” and boy band music was to find music that appealed to the community at large.
“Encanto” caters to children in the community while boy band music appeals to adults in their 30s and 40s, he said. The Military Night medley will appeal to the older generation.
There were a couple of reasons Shepherd cited for the band making the programming change.
“We just wanted it to be more fun, more inclusive,” he said. “Our testing program has been very, very intense and it is very expensive. It is so expensive especially for a group of our size to do so. So we wanted to be more inclusive with children. These are the guys who really wanted to be a marching band.
Shepherd’s class schedule also changed this year.
No marching band lessons are offered, a lesson that was previously mandatory for band students. So students who didn’t want to be part of the marching band didn’t join the band, period.
As a result of the change, the concert band is expected to grow 50% this school year with the addition of students who were not interested in the marching band.
The marching band has 29 members this year, which is roughly the same size as previous years.
One of its main goals is to recruit more students into the band and at the same time get the community to rally around the program.
“We’re just trying to hit the whole spectrum of the community,” he said.
With the change, the band was able to cut their budget in half. This means that the taxes that families have to pay have been halved. And there is less time with rehearsals and performances.
The band will perform at the ISSMA Summer Showcase in Kokomo on September 20, where they will perform “Encanto”, and at the ISSMA Festival in Southport on October 1, where they will perform in the boy band show.
In recent years, Triton Central has had an inexperienced group. The group has more balance this fall and, with smaller staff due to budget cuts, Shepherd has relied on his student leadership team to take on a bigger role.
“My job, which I have always considered a coach, is to build leaders and good leaders in the community at large,” he said. “I want these to be community leaders in 10, 20 years. And so I always thought it was my job. I tell them every year, “Anyone who wants to be a leader who can be, I’ll give you a leadership position” because I think it’s really important that they learn those skills.
The band that changes things this fall isn’t necessarily permanent.
“I don’t think anything is permanent,” Shepherd said. “This is today. Obviously I’d like to be competitive and do state finals and all that. There are so many things that need to be in place. It takes a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of hard work. It’s difficult.”