Zionsville Indoor Percussion Makes History
Contributed by Christina Faulkner
Earning a single State Championship title is rare, but earning the title three years in a row is not only a first for a group at Zionsville Community High School, but it is a first in Class A Indiana Percussion Association (IPA) history.
This year’s show, “The Hive,” featured music from “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov, “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Imma Be” by the Black Eyed Peas. ZIP’s Director is Orion Avery, and Tom Landrum is Director of Bands at ZCHS.
The ZIP ensemble was formed nine years ago, and in the last five years, it has made an impressive mark in the percussion competition circuits. The group participates in two competition circuits: Indiana Percussion Association (IPA) and Winter Guard International (WGI).
Indoor Percussion is a winter percussion program that competes inside during the Marching Band off- season. It consists of the battery (snares, tenors, bass drums and cymbals), and the front ensemble (marimbas, vibraphones, xylophone, synthesizer and various other percussion instruments). Just like Marching Band, a story is told through music. The show evolves over the course of the season. The show you see during the first competition is sort of like the seed. The show then grows throughout the season, adding new movements in music and adding to and adapting the costumes, props and the storyline to enhance the experience for spectators and judges.
ZIP students begin practicing for their show as soon as the Marching Band season ends. To be a part of this smaller ensemble, these disciplined students sign a contract committing to practices three days a week as well as all-day Saturday practices, translating to Saturday competitions beginning in February and at least one Sunday competition. In addition, the students have six- and eight-hour practice camps over Christmas Break, MLK Day and President’s Day and usually forfeit one or both weekends of their Spring Break for State Finals Competition at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute in addition to preparing for WGI.
“Some days, practices are intense,” says senior percussionist Sam Stucky. “Student leaders get heavily critiqued when their section isn’t performing like it should, and Orion and the techs hold them accountable. We have to remind ourselves that they do it to make us better. As the staff says, 90 percent of what we do is mental, and as long as you fight mentally, you will achieve your goals.”
Avery says, “My philosophy is to develop individual discipline through percussive studies. The students learn that if they have a strong work ethic, they can get results they want. I’m really proud of these kids. They put in a lot of hours, a lot of hard work and effort, and when you watch the performance, it shows.”
After achieving their goal of winning State this year in the IPA circuit, the group focused all of its attention on the world competition stage in Dayton, Ohio, in April.
The World Championship competition showcases intense performances where the best percussionists from across the nation and around the world compete in this prestigious event. According to WGI’s website, there are approximately 36,000 participants in WGI-registered ensembles throughout the U.S., and around 12,000 made the trip to compete at the World Championships this year. This year’s ZIP Coordinator Jennifer Price says, “There’s nothing like it. When these musicians take the floor and you feel the beat of all of those drums, it’s fantastic!”
Two years ago, ZIP participated for the first time at WGI in Dayton. Then last year, in A-Class Performance, the group traveled to Dayton. Out of the 60 A-Class ensembles competing, ZIP advanced through the prelims and semi-finals to place fifth at WGI. This year, the group hoped to make it to the finals again.
At the group meeting immediately after performing, Avery said, “You should be proud. Advancing to World Championship Finals at Dayton is rare. It’s an honor just to get this far and be invited to
With the pressure of performing over, the students focused on enjoying the rest of the competition and interacting with other competitors. During the awards ceremony, Zionsville moved up from 13th place to 10th in Finals Competition.
A senior on snare, Logan Witt says, “I’ve learned so much from Indoor. I’ve learned how to be a leader, to listen and work as a team, and if I don’t give it my all, it affects the whole group. We count on each other. We’ve really become family. We fight sometimes, but we also have each other’s backs. We try to encourage each other, not just within our group, but with other ensembles.”On Saturday morning, the group made its way home to Zionsville, proud of their accomplishments. Conversations on the bus are about stories that happened over the last few days, connections made and shows that made a lasting impression.
But then the talk turns to Marching Band season and what the show will be in the Fall. They are already looking ahead to what the next season will bring.
For more information: WGI.org IndianaPercussion.org ZCHSBANDS.com
Watch last year’s State Championship program, “Batter Up!”:
Mariah Ake, Nick Bakaysa, Charles Brewer, Harrison Clark, Evan Cole, Kate Duckworth, Michaela Enerson, Annie Faulkner, David Fulkerson, David Fuqua, Alyssa Gill, Maya Harris, Isaiah Hedger, Crystal Keesee, Colton King, Gabrielle Leriger, John Leriger, Madeleine Martin, Josh McAtee, Alex Nelson, Maddie Pasquale, Sterling Powell, Alli Price, Ben Price, Luke Price, Zach Rude, Charlie Schell, Madison Smith, Sam Stucky, Kenzie Wandrei, Mitchell Weber, Sam Williams, Nate Willy, Logan Witt