Marching Together

Rival high school marching bands combine into one


Marching band, 185 strong, march onto the field. The crowd erupts into applause as the band is introduced over the speakers. The drum majors raise their hands and the instruments and flags follow, a show of perfect synchronization. They have practiced for months for this one moment, and it finally arrives. The Sound and Spirit of Columbus is here and ready to perform. Bryan Munoz, one of the band directors, has been tirelessly training his students.
“Our 2021 show is entitled ‘Evil, Inc.’ and is a tongue in cheek production about a group of supervillains looking to take over the world. Think Pinky and The Brain, or Comic Book storytelling,” Muñoz said. “We’ve incorporated some incredible visual elements through costume and flag design as well as set design”
The marching band not only performs at school events, but they also compete in the grand nationals tournament at the Lucas Oil Stadium in November. The students put in over 100 hours of practice time to prepare for the competition. Freshman Kate London, a member of color guard, expresses her excitement for competition season.
“I’m so excited, I love performing. This is my sixth season, but my third marching band season. I love it so much, it’s my favorite thing that I do,” London said. “So, competitions don’t make me as nervous as they used to.”
The students’ anticipation is high this year and they are hoping that COVID-19 will not dampen their spirits as numbers rise. Senior Xavier Smith recognizes the challenges and barriers the pandemic has placed on the band.
“As soon as the mask mandate went into place, that kind of restricts indoor practice and such. If you’re playing an instrument you kind of have to take your mask off. Other than that, and of course people being contact-traced and having to get tested and stuff like that, it’s been fairly smooth,” Smith said. Despite the threat of cancellation due to the pandemic, the students’ keep their spirits high.Pit player junior Jayden Spray, has confidence in the band’s potential despite the pandemic.
“Last year, COVID definitely affected us. I remember it was the first day of band camp for that season and I remember them telling us our marching season had been canceled. This year though, we want to come back and show everyone, ‘Hey, we’re back and we mean it,’” Spray said.
To prepare for the heavy competition ahead, the students work tirelessly to become the best they can be. The staff that supports the band is no exception.
“In addition to teaching during the school day and during after school rehearsals I probably spend an additional 30-35 hours a week preparing, planning for logistical issues, and accomplishing all of the other non-performance based operations. I say that it’s my least favorite, however it’s a labor of love. I’m happy to do these tasks so the kids can focus on what is important: performing at the highest level they know how,” Muñoz said.
The Sound of North marching band has a reputation, having won multiple awards and competitions in the past. Now, they will share that legacy with East.
Spray explained that the marching band will be competing in class A during their competitions, the highest level possible, equivalent to Avon and Carmel. The class is determined by the size of the band.
The band directors from North and East have been wanted to make this leap and they finally had the opportunity to do so when they received approval from the superintendent.
Munoz explained that the band directors were hesitant when the idea was first introduced, but the potential and benefits overpower the obstacles.
Just like the band directors, the students’ also have the trained ears to hear and feel the many benefits of the bigger band.
“You get more sound from it and you get more possibilities to create better pictures on the field. More people, more details, and an overall better experience as well,” Smith said.
According to Muñoz, marching band is not only about expanding your musical abilities, it also builds teamwork and relationship skills.
“My favorite part of combining the marching band is building more relationships with students. The chance to connect with more kids and challenge them to be the best versions of themselves is so rewarding. Our students are simply amazing,” Muñoz said.

Many students have been able to reunite with some of their friends from elementary and middle school, however, it requires more from them.
“I am so far enjoying it combined. One of the only downsides I can find is we are practicing at both North and East, which means you have a little bit more travel time and you have to move props and instruments and stuff like that back and forth,” Smith said. “But other than that, I get to meet a lot of cool people at East and still have friends at North.”