Brightly colored flags whipped high into the air as the steady beat of percussion instruments filled the halls Saturday at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School as part of the seventh annual Keystone Indoor Drill Association Championships.
Indoor band performances are very different from the fall marching band football halftime showcases.
“The physical demands are so much higher,” said Megan Lynch, the band director at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School. “The proximity [to the audience] is so much closer. It’s that much more intimidating. You can see every little mistake.”
Each school was graded on its four-minute performance. The competition pitted local schools, including Oakdale, Brunswick, Frederick, Linganore and Tuscarora. Other competitors came from as far away Hedgesville, W.Va., and Berryville, Va.
Oakdale took first place in the gold percussion ensemble category, while Brunswick earned top honors in the gold moving percussion competition.
Tuscarora won the bronze color guard category, with Brunswick and Frederick taking fourth and fifth place in the gold color guard category. Oakdale took second in the white color guard category.
Thomas Johnson’s indoor guard and percussion have been practicing since December. As the groups travel to venues in New York and West Virginia for competitions, Saturday’s home venue was a treat, especially for seniors, Lynch said.
“The parents can come to their school to see their kid,” she said. “It means a lot to them. There are a lot of tears and gifts.”
Esperanza Gomez, a senior at Thomas Johnson, got involved in indoor color guard during her sophomore year after a friend told her about the group.
“I instantly loved it,” she said.
Amelia Mossy has been a part of indoor guard and marching band all four years she has attended Urbana High School.
The two 17-year-olds were a part of Thomas Johnson’s and Urbana High’s combined indoor guard team that performed a choreographed routine to Peter Gabriel’s “Apres Moi,” which they called “The Flood.”
Team members danced and threw large blue flags, sabers and rifles into the air on the gymnasium floor and atop a 6-foot-high scaffolding they nicknamed “The Death Star.”
Mossy said she enjoys the performing aspect of the guard.
“It’s awesome to be in a show and give it your all,” she said.
Gomez has relished going to different schools for competitions and getting to spend so much time with her friends.
Some have misconceptions about indoor guard and do not understand how complex routines can be, Gomez said.
People might think they just have a flag to wave back and forth, but there are so many difficult, intricate moves to perform, she said.
The props are “a fun way of expressing emotion,” Mossy said.
Most of the students spend 20 hours a week practicing, Lynch said.
“The kids in the program are really special,” she said. “They are very dedicated. The time they put in is astronomical. It’s become a way of life for them. They are very proud of what they do.”