Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill 11 #9: Indian Land band rises to the top

The Indian Land High School Marching Band won competition after competition this year after months of rehearsing a challenging routine.
The Indian Land High School Marching Band won competition after competition this year after months of rehearsing a challenging routine.

What a difference a year makes!

In 2008 the Indian Land Band, which had a disappointing competition season in 2007, marched confidently onto the field and scored one victory after another.

The Class A band scored four first-place awards in a row, including a top prize at the South Carolina Upper State Competition, with their musically challenging show called "Out of the Box."

The show was about making independent decisions and following an individual path instead of being part of a crowd. The band marched, played and lived that theme, as it stood out from the crowd at each competition. Racking up win after win, the band filled up a trophy case that had been largely empty since a state championship victory in 2001.

Director Mathew Willis attributed the students' success to their hard work. In the 90 degree heat of the summer and throughout the fall, the students practiced at least three days a week and spent Friday nights cheering on the football team before heading to competitions early on Saturday morning.

Willis also said his philosophy of teaching is an asset to the students' performances. Throughout the year, during both the marching and concert band seasons, Willis focuses on helping the students be the best musicians they can be, he said.

"If you're the best musicians on the field," Willis said, "everything else takes care of itself."

The band seemed poised to take home the S.C. Championship at the end of October, but suffered a devastating defeat, finishing seventh.

The loss was disappointing, but Willis reminded the students to hold their heads up high and recognize their achievements throughout the season. When the band came to attention that night, the group shouted out their motto loud and clear:

"Pride!" the students shouted.

Willis chalked the loss up to a growing experience and said he thought the band ended the season on a high note.

"It's not about the trophies we take home, it's about the effort, it's about the adventure, it's about the trip from June to now," Willis said.

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