On Saturday, October 11, the Marching Southerners hosted Bands of America and Music For All’s regional championship.
18 exceptional high school bands from across the Southeast flocked to Burgess-Snow field to compete for the coveted title of Regional Champion.
The day began with the preliminary competition, and after an exhibition from the Marching Southerners, the top ten highest scoring bands that would be moving on to finals were announced.
After one long day, two outstanding performances, and immeasurable pressure, the ten finalist bands lined the field for the awards ceremony and waited.
Harrison High School from Kennesaw, Ga. received first place. Following Harrison was Kennesaw Mountain High School and Fort Mill High School. Awards drew up to tenth place.
Dr. Ken Bodiford has been the Director of Bands at JSU since 1994, and it was he who got the Southerners involved with Bands of America as a recruiting tool back in 1998 when they began performing as an exhibition band at the Atlanta Regional Competition.
Three years ago, BOA asked if JSU would be interested in hosting a regional championship, and Bodiford’s answer was yes.
Joie Byrd, a junior at JSU and one of the current drum majors for the Marching Southerners, has a unique perspective on Saturday’s contest. She was a drum major at Lassiter High School and competed in several BOA competitions. “It was definitely intense,” she admits.
Now, as a member of the host band, she gets to see the competition in a different light. “I definitely think the exhibition portion is a big recruitment tool. It’s cool being on this side of it because when you’re in high school, you think you’re the best, but seeing the [exhibition] bands there, you know there’s still something to strive for.”
And after giving a performance that left thousands of awestruck band students and parents on their feet, the Southerners did just that, and how many future Southerners sat in those stands is a question that everyone is eagerly awaiting the answer to.
It is clear that each of the eighteen bands that participated in Saturday’s competition are incredibly talented and hardworking.
Bands of America is the most prestigious competition circuit for high school bands in the country, and these students have earned their place among the ranks of the greats.
After teaching music for 26 years, Dr. Bodiford has seen and worked with numerous spectacular individuals and groups, and he offers this piece of advice to all of Saturday’s outstanding competitors and to students everywhere with a passion for music, “The thing I would pass on to them is that even though the competition is really important to us, don’t ever let that completely take over your whole being.
“There are some bands that will come in second place by just a tenth of a point, and they’re phenomenal.
“I hate for them to leave thinking that they’re not good because they didn’t win first place. I’d like for them to all realize that to be competing at this level, they’re incredible to start with, and, really, it’s a toss up who’s going to win from day to day.”