A perennial state marching band powerhouse, North Hardin High School is stepping away this year from the Kentucky Music Educators Association marching band competition.
Director Brian Froedge said since 2015 the band has been first in the Class 5A semifinals each year and would be passed up in the finals competition by school bands it already had beaten.
Froedge called the scenario a “bizarre coincide.”
“It was just time to take a year away from that,” he said. “They (the students) handled it really well but I didn’t want them to just expect the same thing to happen every time we go.”
Instead, the band will turn its focus toward taking part in three Bands of America competitions, including the Grand National Championships in November in Indianapolis.
“We really enjoy being apart of that circuit. They have the best judges ... and some of the best bands in the country participate,” Froedge said.
Last year, the band finished third in Class 2-A of the semifinals of the Music for All Bands of America Grand National competition.
This year’s band has a mix of veteran members and newcomers.
“The freshmen are really strong,” said assistant NHHS band director Brittany Froedge, who is also the band teacher at North Middle School, which feeds into NHHS. Brittany is married to Brian.
Brittany taught numerous students while they were in middle school and has stayed with them during their high school years.
“I think my job is the greatest for that reason alone,” Brittany Froedge said. “I get to see them from when they first started playing their instruments to the point where they’re creating music at a national level. No one can understand how great it is to see them grow in that way.”
Brian has more than 20 years of band directing experience at the high school and middle school levels.
The band relies on student leadership from several students, such as junior Charlie Seigler. He said he first joined the marching band after seeing his sisters perform.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said of being a band leader.
Some students also serve in various leadership roles, which helps fill in gaps the band may have otherwise.
“It kind of fills that void of the money that we don’t have to afford all of the staff members that our competitors have,” Brittany said.
The first Bands of America competition is Sept. 21 in Louisville. Central Hardin High School also is slated to compete.
“I want them to have a really positive experience,” Brian said of his students.