As schools continue to weigh decisions about the start of the new academic year, high school competitions for the fall marching band season have been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


“Marching Band holds a dear place in my heart and this was, I know, a very difficult decision for the Executive Board of this esteemed organization,” said Bonnie Harmon, Salem High School Band Director, in a letter to students.  “They did not do this lightly and they did it with the welfare and safety of every student and director in mind.”

The Indiana State School Music Association announced Friday that the organization’s competition season — which includes regional and semistate events, as well as state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — could not move forward with live events due to concerns that necessary safety measures could not be guaranteed.

Instead, ISSMA officials said they’re now exploring options to provide judging through virtual means, though details are still being sorted out.

“It is our fervent hope that we will be able to return to live marching band events in the fall of 2021 and assist our member schools in carrying on the proud heritage of marching bands in the state of Indiana,” ISSMA executive director Mick Bridgewater said in a statement Friday.

The announcement comes on the heels of marching band competition cancellations in numerous other states, including Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Nearly 200 schools participate in ISSMA marching band events each fall. Now, the decision is left up to individual schools whether they’ll host their own live invitationals or allow students to march at football games.

Bands of America, which hosts regional and national competitions for high school marching bands across the country, has yet to cancel its two dozens events scheduled from September-November.

Drum Corps International, a drum and bugle corps activity that draws thousands of high school and college participants each summer, canceled its 2020 touring season in March, including a three-night championships event at Lucas Oil in Stadium in Indianapolis.

Until Friday, all ISSMA marching band events scheduled for October and November — including the state competition held at Lucas Oil Stadium — were still scheduled to take place, barring recurrent virus outbreaks.

Harmon wrote in her letter, “How does this affect the Salem Band? We will continue to make music. We will continue to produce Champions. We have distributed a revised practice schedule that is mindful of the recent Aerosols Study concerning Instrumental Music. We will meet in small groups and we will only meet for 1 hour at a time until things change.

“We will focus our musical energies on our show music – Mr. Trimpe has graciously offered to turn these three selections into a Concert Suite and allow us to have the World Premiere performance! We will focus on Pep Band music so that we can be there to support our Athletic Lions if and when their seasons begin. We will focus on Solo and Ensemble Music so that we can grow as musicians and be very prepared for January and February’s ISSMA Solo-Ensemble Festival. New ensembles may come our way! As long as we are making music and as long as there are audiences – Live or Virtual – the Salem Band will ROAR ON!”