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That was beautifully written... I have to say, being from a band that while I've been here has been good but never quite in the elite group that seems to always win, I've never thought of Marian Catholic as being anything but another of the big, bad, rich Chicago area schools that seem unbeatable and remote. From across the state, those schools all seem a little bit the same.... My eyes just got opened there. Kudos to that writer and to the Marian Catholic band.

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That was beautifully written... I have to say, being from a band that while I've been here has been good but never quite in the elite group that seems to always win, I've never thought of Marian Catholic as being anything but another of the big, bad, rich Chicago area schools that seem unbeatable and remote. From across the state, those schools all seem a little bit the same.... My eyes just got opened there. Kudos to that writer and to the Marian Catholic band.
I respect Marian so much. But don't go too far. Marian's got tons of built in financial advantages. They have their percussion instructor on staff at the school (or they at least used to), and they have their colorguard staff (which is pretty big) at every rehearsal every single day during the school day. They have a lot of built in advantages that no other band in Illinois has.

 

They're great, and they do things the right way, but don't let the yellow school buses fool you. They're loaded with staff, and they also have one of the most genius minds that has ever been involved in the activity as their director. They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

That being said, cool article about a pretty awesome program. Here's to them scoring top 5 (which would be amazing) this weekend in Indianapolis.

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That was beautifully written... I have to say, being from a band that while I've been here has been good but never quite in the elite group that seems to always win, I've never thought of Marian Catholic as being anything but another of the big, bad, rich Chicago area schools that seem unbeatable and remote. From across the state, those schools all seem a little bit the same.... My eyes just got opened there. Kudos to that writer and to the Marian Catholic band.
I respect Marian so much. But don't go too far. Marian's got tons of built in financial advantages. They have their percussion instructor on staff at the school (or they at least used to), and they have their colorguard staff (which is pretty big) at every rehearsal every single day during the school day. They have a lot of built in advantages that no other band in Illinois has.

 

They're great, and they do things the right way, but don't let the yellow school buses fool you. They're loaded with staff, and they also have one of the most genius minds that has ever been involved in the activity as their director. They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

That being said, cool article about a pretty awesome program. Here's to them scoring top 5 (which would be amazing) this weekend in Indianapolis.

Public versus private schools.

 

I'd imagine that a private high school has advantages and disadvantages alike. They don't have the revenue stream (though I do not presume to know what goes on at Marian Catholic) from tax dollars that public high schools enjoy, but on the flipside they COULD have advantages in terms of student selection (acceptance, dismissal, scheduling).

 

Then again, private schools don't enjoy a feeder program(s) and, again not knowing the inner-workings of MC's program, probably have to work much harder to acclimate their youngest performers to an acceptably high performance level in a handful of months. Most bands that successfully compete on the state and national level do have these support functions. That's not to say that public high school bands with weaker feeder programs can't or haven't done the same thing, but I'm sure it's more difficult not knowing the personnel you'll get going into a new year until they've passed their tests and qualified for admission. For every 10 great grade school performers that may find their way to your door (and I'm sure it happens), you may have 30 that can't play very well but want to be in the band. I'm sure Greg Bimm has to have students change instruments out of necessity, assuming they do not hold marching band auditions and accept any student.

 

If you were to ask me, I think Marian Catholic is successful primarily because of the talent of their director and the leadership model this article refers to. They are an underdog program, as the article suggests, despite their successes. I highly doubt they openly recruit, as has been suggested, from around the country or even locally. That seems like it's more of a football and basketball model, and judging from what I read into their scores over the years, individual marching and playing tends to be their weaker points. They have the ability to recruit, but this is high school marching band in Illinois and not a meal ticket to millions in the NBA or NFL. The recruiting notion for private schools, at least in this arena, seems ridiculous to me.

 

Let's face it though, without Greg Bimm as their director, it's highly unlikely that Marian Catholic could afford to compete with the Carmel's, Broken Arrow's Lassiter's, Tarpon Springs's and other affluent programs who can afford such luxuries needed to stay at the forefront of the activity. I'd even go as far as to include some Illinois bands, but no one in this state is really at that highest level of competition right now. Heck, I'd even say that even some of the bands listed aren't sitting at the highest levels anymore (Lassiter being one).

 

On an unrelated note, I wonder if Illinois State or the University of Illinois will adopt the 1.65 multiplier into their state competitions (You know, multiplying private school population x 1.65 to "even the playing field). I realize this is unfair to single out one program, but wonder if it's worth considering and implementing in the future for band.

 

 

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They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

Not true at all. Everyone is from the greater Chicago area. I have friends that I went to school with from the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, to Crown Point, IN.

 

As for the second comment, also not true. I have friends who started off on clarinet and switched to baritone/mellophone. I also had a friend that picked up string bass junior year for concert season. There are constantly switches at the beginning of the marching season as well as concert season.

 

Mr. Bimm really doesn't know what kind of instrumentation he'll have until around May or so, at which point he receives a course registration sheet. He could have 6 new bass clarinetists, he could have 20 new flutes.

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They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

Not true at all. Everyone is from the greater Chicago area. I have friends that I went to school with from the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, to Crown Point, IN.

 

As for the second comment, also not true. I have friends who started off on clarinet and switched to baritone/mellophone. I also had a friend that picked up string bass junior year for concert season. There are constantly switches at the beginning of the marching season as well as concert season.

 

Mr. Bimm really doesn't know what kind of instrumentation he'll have until around May or so, at which point he receives a course registration sheet. He could have 6 new bass clarinetists, he could have 20 new flutes.

I had the privilege of attending a clinic w/ Mr. Bimm this past summer, and he laid out, in no uncertain terms, the extreme range of freshmen coming into his program every year. Some can play well, and a surprising number struggle with a scale. His secret is that he will work with any student who comes in the door, as long as they are willing to meet him half-way and pull their weight. With dozens of feeder programs and no coordination between them, its a true testament to the program that the end product is always high quality.

 

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They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

Not true at all. Everyone is from the greater Chicago area. I have friends that I went to school with from the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, to Crown Point, IN.

 

As for the second comment, also not true. I have friends who started off on clarinet and switched to baritone/mellophone. I also had a friend that picked up string bass junior year for concert season. There are constantly switches at the beginning of the marching season as well as concert season.

 

Mr. Bimm really doesn't know what kind of instrumentation he'll have until around May or so, at which point he receives a course registration sheet. He could have 6 new bass clarinetists, he could have 20 new flutes.

Thanks for the clarification. Still, no other school in Illinois gets to recruit from an entire major metropolitan area. That's a huge advantage.

 

Here's a couple questions for you:

 

1. I've heard that in any given year, MC has 20-30 freshman out there that are (for all intents and purposes) only marching a spot because they can't hack the music. Any truth to this, based on your experiences?

 

2. How many kids at MC (estimate if you can) are only at that school so they can be part of the music program/marching band? Meaning that was their driving reason for attending Marian Catholic as a private school.

 

If you don't want to answer, that's fine, it's just something I'm curious about.

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They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

Not true at all. Everyone is from the greater Chicago area. I have friends that I went to school with from the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, to Crown Point, IN.

 

As for the second comment, also not true. I have friends who started off on clarinet and switched to baritone/mellophone. I also had a friend that picked up string bass junior year for concert season. There are constantly switches at the beginning of the marching season as well as concert season.

 

Mr. Bimm really doesn't know what kind of instrumentation he'll have until around May or so, at which point he receives a course registration sheet. He could have 6 new bass clarinetists, he could have 20 new flutes.

Thanks for the clarification. Still, no other school in Illinois gets to recruit from an entire major metropolitan area. That's a huge advantage.

 

Here's a couple questions for you:

 

1. I've heard that in any given year, MC has 20-30 freshman out there that are (for all intents and purposes) only marching a spot because they can't hack the music. Any truth to this, based on your experiences?

 

2. How many kids at MC (estimate if you can) are only at that school so they can be part of the music program/marching band? Meaning that was their driving reason for attending Marian Catholic as a private school.

 

If you don't want to answer, that's fine, it's just something I'm curious about.

I know this wasn't directed to me, but the very fact that their program cannot control the structure or instrumentation configuration of a feeder system (because they do not have one), probably creates many more headaches than any benefits. The playing field is, at the very least, even at that point with their public school counterparts. They cannot pluck students who have not yet been accepted into their school and have them participate in marching band workshops, concert clinics or practice sessions etc. to get ahead like public schools can do.

 

Just because a school draws from a large area does not necessarily mean that the students coming through those doors have any talent. Some do, because their parents probably make music or the arts a high priority and can afford private school tuition, but many others likely are well behind the very same freshmen in band at competitive high schools.

 

A school like Marian Catholic needs constant publicity and articles, such as the one referenced above, to maintain a steady flow of personnel. With the tough economic times everyone is facing, I'm sure private education has taken a hit because people simply cannot afford it.

 

Lincoln-Way Schools are a prime example of a good feeder system that is enhanced by good instruction at the high school level. Everything that district touches ends up pretty good, but there are some built-in advantages in terms of personnel, instrumentation planning and preparation (standards, structure, etc.). The crop of freshmen students coming through the doors of Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way East, North or possibly even West I'd collectively take over those at Marian Catholic. There's just a greater chance that those students are more prepared on Day One. And rightly so.

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They recruit members from all over the country to be in their music program. They're stacked.

 

Not true at all. Everyone is from the greater Chicago area. I have friends that I went to school with from the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, to Crown Point, IN.

 

As for the second comment, also not true. I have friends who started off on clarinet and switched to baritone/mellophone. I also had a friend that picked up string bass junior year for concert season. There are constantly switches at the beginning of the marching season as well as concert season.

 

Mr. Bimm really doesn't know what kind of instrumentation he'll have until around May or so, at which point he receives a course registration sheet. He could have 6 new bass clarinetists, he could have 20 new flutes.

Thanks for the clarification. Still, no other school in Illinois gets to recruit from an entire major metropolitan area. That's a huge advantage.

 

Here's a couple questions for you:

 

1. I've heard that in any given year, MC has 20-30 freshman out there that are (for all intents and purposes) only marching a spot because they can't hack the music. Any truth to this, based on your experiences?

 

2. How many kids at MC (estimate if you can) are only at that school so they can be part of the music program/marching band? Meaning that was their driving reason for attending Marian Catholic as a private school.

 

If you don't want to answer, that's fine, it's just something I'm curious about.

My son is a senior this year at Marian and I have always amazed what the other parents have said or thought about our band at competitions. I have heard everything from how good they sound to we shouldn't be allowed to compete because it is unfair to the other schools and we must cheat on our enrollment figures to get in our class at ISU. Just plain silliness!! Now we have people thinking that we have a great advantage because we recruit nationally. What??? This is high school not the NCAA!! There are a number of communities that the students come from to go to the school but I wouldn't call it the entire Chicago Metro area. What Parent is able to drive their child 50 miles to go to high school until they get their drivers license? No, there is no bus service. So while we have an advantage of drawing from many communities, it isn't as many as you might think. I've seen posts about how much money we have and how our busses are full of staff. Really?? Don't know where people get this stuff. As my 5 year old niece would say her favorite saying from Sponge Bob, That is just Crazy Talk!!

 

As far as I am aware, anyone who wants to join the band may do so. There are no auditions, as has been implied. Our secret weapon, isn't that much of a secret. It is without a doubt, Mr. Bimm.

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Exactly, banddad !!

 

Whenever I hear this nonsense, I always reply that if being a private, catholic school is such a big advantage, then why aren't BOA finals, ISU Finals, etc. packed with private, Catholic schools year after year. AFAIK, Marian is the only such band to have any near their level of success, so there must be something else at play -- as you say, banddad, it's no secret what that is -- the grand conspiracy of Marian's success begins and ends with Mr. Bimm.

 

The rest of it is the same as any high-level program: dedicated parent support, some very talented members, some struggling beginners, practices mixed in with schoolwork as best as possible, and all the other challenges and rewards of attempting to educate a large group of coed teenagers. I know it's comforting to believe there are nefarious forces that cause one band to score higher than another, as if to say "if it weren't for this unfair situation, the scores would be different". But as is the case with most things, the simplest answer is the best -- simply put, Mr. Bimm is one of the best, if not the best, high school director out there, and is largely, if not solely, responsible for Marian's unmatched longevity of success.

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Exactly, banddad !!

 

Whenever I hear this nonsense, I always reply that if being a private, catholic school is such a big advantage, then why aren't BOA finals packed with private, Catholic schools year after year. AFAIK, Marian is the only such band to have any near their level of success, so there must be something else at play -- as you say, banddad, it's no secret what that is -- the grand conspiracy of Marian's success begins and ends with Mr. Bimm.

 

The rest of it is the same as any high-level program: dedicated parent support, some very talented members, some struggling beginners, practices mixed in with schoolwork as best as possible, and all the other challenges and rewards of attempting to educate a large group of coed teenagers. I know it's comforting to believe there are nefarious forces that cause one band to score higher than another, but as is the case with most things, the simplest answer is the best -- simply put, Mr. Bimm is one of the best, if not the best, high school director out there, and is largely, if not solely, responsible for Marian's unmatched longevity of success.

See, here's where things get silly.

 

Nobody on ths board whatsoever suggested that Marian is some evil monolithic band entity. Everybody on this board respects Marian Catholic. But I don't see how it can be disputed that Marian has some built in advantages that most bands in Illinois simply do not enjoy:

 

1. Full Time percussion staff.

2. Guard staff at every rehearsal. How many? I've heard 3-4...but not sure on that.

3. A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school.

4. The ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around the Chicagoland area.

 

This doesn't mean Marian "cheats" or that they don't deserve their success. This also doesn't mean that Marian has close to as many advantages as some of the top BOA bands. It just means that it's not like Marian's system is held together by thumb tacks and duct tape. There's a significant amount of money that gets spent on staff, instrumentation, etc. It certainly helps that they are lead by the one of the best band directors in the history of the activity, but that doesn't change the rest of it.

 

I hope Marian people can try to look at this from an objective standpoint instead of immediately getting defensive like somebody is attacking their band, which is certainly not the case from my standpoint.

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Exactly, banddad !!

 

Whenever I hear this nonsense, I always reply that if being a private, catholic school is such a big advantage, then why aren't BOA finals packed with private, Catholic schools year after year. AFAIK, Marian is the only such band to have any near their level of success, so there must be something else at play -- as you say, banddad, it's no secret what that is -- the grand conspiracy of Marian's success begins and ends with Mr. Bimm.

 

The rest of it is the same as any high-level program: dedicated parent support, some very talented members, some struggling beginners, practices mixed in with schoolwork as best as possible, and all the other challenges and rewards of attempting to educate a large group of coed teenagers. I know it's comforting to believe there are nefarious forces that cause one band to score higher than another, but as is the case with most things, the simplest answer is the best -- simply put, Mr. Bimm is one of the best, if not the best, high school director out there, and is largely, if not solely, responsible for Marian's unmatched longevity of success.

See, here's where things get silly.

 

Nobody on ths board whatsoever suggested that Marian is some evil monolithic band entity. Everybody on this board respects Marian Catholic. But I don't see how it can be disputed that Marian has some built in advantages that most bands in Illinois simply do not enjoy:

 

1. Full Time percussion staff.

2. Guard staff at every rehearsal. How many? I've heard 3-4...but not sure on that.

3. A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school.

4. The ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around the Chicagoland area.

 

This doesn't mean Marian "cheats" or that they don't deserve their success. This also doesn't mean that Marian has close to as many advantages as some of the top BOA bands. It just means that it's not like Marian's system is held together by thumb tacks and duct tape. There's a significant amount of money that gets spent on staff, instrumentation, etc. It certainly helps that they are lead by the one of the best band directors in the history of the activity, but that doesn't change the rest of it.

 

I hope Marian people can try to look at this from an objective standpoint instead of immediately getting defensive like somebody is attacking their band, which is certainly not the case from my standpoint.

Nobody wants silly.

 

Do we have a full time percussion staff.

 

Well if you consider our percussion director a staff, sure I'll give you that one.

 

Guard staff at every rehersal, honestly can't answer that because I don't know.

 

A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school? You mean I am paying the tuition for college prep classes and getting band practice? Silly suggestion, I won't go there with you.

 

Ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around Chicagoland. Not sure where you are from but in case you weren't aware (not meant in a bad way) that is a pretty big place you are describing. Public transporation is comical and non existant for the most part in the southern suburbs so that leaves parents driving. In rush hour times I'm going to drive my son to school and still make it back without being insane. You are kidding, right?

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Nobody on ths board whatsoever suggested that Marian is some evil monolithic band entity. Everybody on this board respects Marian Catholic. But I don't see how it can be disputed that Marian has some built in advantages that most bands in Illinois simply do not enjoy:

 

1. Full Time percussion staff.

2. Guard staff at every rehearsal. How many? I've heard 3-4...but not sure on that.

3. A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school.

4. The ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around the Chicagoland area.

 

This doesn't mean Marian "cheats" or that they don't deserve their success. This also doesn't mean that Marian has close to as many advantages as some of the top BOA bands. It just means that it's not like Marian's system is held together by thumb tacks and duct tape. There's a significant amount of money that gets spent on staff, instrumentation, etc. It certainly helps that they are lead by the one of the best band directors in the history of the activity, but that doesn't change the rest of it.

 

I hope Marian people can try to look at this from an objective standpoint instead of immediately getting defensive like somebody is attacking their band, which is certainly not the case from my standpoint.

I'm not taking offense or being defensive reflexively. Or least not trying to be :)

 

Mostly what I as responding to is stuff that I hear about all top programs. "They practice more", "They have more money", "They have DCI arrangers of staff" etc, etc.

I have heard this stuff about all top bands (not just Marian) over the years and it all sounds like nonsense to me.

 

In response to your specific points. It's true that Marian practices during the school day for an hour. I can't believe that they are the only one to do this, but I also highly doubt that overall, the Marian band practices that much more or less than any other top program. Staff issues I can't comment on as I don't know, but I will say (anecdotally) that back in the 80's, it was just Bimm -- they had a volunteer drum instructor and a volunteer guard instructor, but the rest was all him (and the kids stepping up). Marian won a few championships then, too, so I would argue that any permanent staff additions, while nice, doesn't entirely explain the success.

 

As for recruiting, I'll go back to that if recruiting is happening and such an advantage, I would expect to see A LOT more private/catholic schools competing at a higher level, yet there are none, so this can't be creating that much of an advantage, if at all. Not sure what kind of recruiting you think is going on. Do kids choose to go to Marian specifically because of the band program? Probably, although I doubt that anywhere near a majority of the incoming freshmam members. Does Mr. Bimm or his staff scout area grade school concerts and then sit down in the living room with Mom and Dad and make their pitch, a la Joe Paterno? Highly doubtful. All in all, I think the potential for some students choosing specifically to join the Marian band is offset by the majority of the kids that they inherit without a feeder system and no way to balance/anticipate incoming instrumentation, talent level, etc. I'd call it even ....

 

All I'm really getting at is that I have heard for decades that Band X has some advantage over Band Y. Practically all of this talk is unfounded and speculative, and ultimately not the resons Band X is beating Band Y. Usually, it's just because they're better (that year) or the director is better (over a span of years), that's all :)

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Also, this issue of money comes up a lot. Marian is a Catholic school -- it's not an endowed private school like Exetor or something. Teacher and staff salaries at Catholic schools don't attract investment bankers, if you know what I mean, so I think there's a misconception that Marian is rolling in dough. Don't get me wrong, the band program is well supported -- by the school, by the community, mostly by the parents -- but I don't think it's any more or less in this realm than any other top program.

 

There are things that work well at Marian because of its Catholic/private nature that wouldn't work so well at the public schools. Conversely, there are things that are available to public schools that don't work so well at Marian. It's a tradeoff, but the fact that there are virtually no other private/Catholic schools at the upper levels of marching band competition leads me to believe that, if anything, in theory, Marian has more disadvantages to overcome than advantages to flaunt. Personally, I call it all even and give the credit to Mr. Bimm. :)

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Nobody on ths board whatsoever suggested that Marian is some evil monolithic band entity. Everybody on this board respects Marian Catholic. But I don't see how it can be disputed that Marian has some built in advantages that most bands in Illinois simply do not enjoy:

 

1. Full Time percussion staff.

2. Guard staff at every rehearsal. How many? I've heard 3-4...but not sure on that.

3. A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school.

4. The ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around the Chicagoland area.

 

This doesn't mean Marian "cheats" or that they don't deserve their success. This also doesn't mean that Marian has close to as many advantages as some of the top BOA bands. It just means that it's not like Marian's system is held together by thumb tacks and duct tape. There's a significant amount of money that gets spent on staff, instrumentation, etc. It certainly helps that they are lead by the one of the best band directors in the history of the activity, but that doesn't change the rest of it.

 

I hope Marian people can try to look at this from an objective standpoint instead of immediately getting defensive like somebody is attacking their band, which is certainly not the case from my standpoint.

I'm not taking offense or being defensive reflexively. Or least not trying to be :)

 

Mostly what I as responding to is stuff that I hear about all top programs. "They practice more", "They have more money", "They have DCI arrangers of staff" etc, etc.

I have heard this stuff about all top bands (not just Marian) over the years and it all sounds like nonsense to me.

 

In response to your specific points. It's true that Marian practices during the school day for an hour. I can't believe that they are the only one to do this, but I also highly doubt that overall, the Marian band practices that much more or less than any other top program. Staff issues I can't comment on as I don't know, but I will say (anecdotally) that back in the 80's, it was just Bimm -- we had a volunteer drum instructor and a volunteer guard instructor, but the rest was all him (and the kids stepping up). Marian won a few championships then, too, so I would argue that any permanent staff additions, while nice, doesn't entirely explain the success.

 

As for recruiting, I'll go back to that if recruiting is happening and such an advantage, I would expect to see A LOT more private/catholic schools competing at a higher level, yet there are none, so this can't be creating that much of an advantage, if at all. Not sure what kind of recruiting you think is going on. Do kids choose to go to Marian specifically because of the band program? Probably, although I doubt that anywhere near a majority of the incoming freshmam members. Does Mr. Bimm or his staff scout area grade school concerts and then sit down in the living room with Mom and Dad and make their pitch, a la Joe Paterno? Highly doubtful. All in all, I think the potential for some students choosing specifically to join the Marian band is offset by the majority of the kids that they inherit without a feeder system and no way to balance/anticipate incoming instrumentation, talent level, etc. I'd call it even ....

 

All I'm really getting at is that I have heard for decades that Band X has some advantage over Band Y. Practically all of this talk is unfounded and speculative, and ultimately not the resons Band X is beating Band Y. Usually, it's just because they're better (that year) or the director is better (over a span of years), that's all :)

I am not being defensive and not quite sure why robes-and-swd would think I am. My original post was only mentioning things I have heard over the past few years, kind of enlightening for somone who didn't know band was so competitive. I am just trying to clear up the misconception that seems to be out there. If we are rolling in money, do you think I could get a break on my tuition payments?

 

I am far from being what I would consider a marching band expert. Actually, before my son got involved at Marian, I didn't know marching bands did anything but play at football games. It has been quite an eye opening experience. We didn't get recruited into the school and any suggestion of that is probably the most crazy thing I have heard. As far as I know from the other parents I have spoken with over the years it is the education that they are after and not the band. That is not to say there are not some who come to the school for the band alone but I would think that that is in the very small minority at best because you still have to be accepted at the school via the entrance exams.

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I am not being defensive and not quite sure why robes-and-swd would think I am. My original post was only mentioning things I have heard over the past few years, kind of enlightening for somone who didn't know band was so competitive. I am just trying to clear up the misconception that seems to be out there. If we are rolling in money, do you think I could get a break on my tuition payments?

 

I am far from being what I would consider a marching band expert. Actually, before my son got involved at Marian, I didn't know marching bands did anything but play at football games. It has been quite an eye opening experience. We didn't get recruited into the school and any suggestion of that is probably the most crazy thing I have heard. As far as I know from the other parents I have spoken with over the years it is the education that they are after and not the band. That is not to say there are not some who come to the school for the band alone but I would think that that is in the very small minority at best because you still have to be accepted at the school via the entrance exams.

Yes, my response is based on much the same sentiment.

 

As a side anecdote, my sister lives in another state and her kids march in a high school band that always comes in 2nd to this other band at State - I think like 5 years in a row they have come in 2nd to the same band. Now my sister wasn't in band or involved in music at all and didn't give two you-know-what's when I was marching. But now she's a band parent, so of course she's an expert at everything. The things she says about this other band -- that is in a different city, btw, so she has no connections to this school except for the one contest a year where they share a field -- are exactly this same sort of stuff: They have a huge budget, they practice their show all year round, they repeated a big part of their show from last year, etc, etc, etc.

 

I just roll my eyes and laugh to myself. I've heard the same stuff about bands for decades. When I was in high school, we said the same stuff about bands that beat us -- so-and-so band recruits kids and gets them a mailing address in their district; so-and-so band doesn't march freshmen; so-and-so band practices 40 hours a week; etc, etc.

 

Eventually, later in life you meet/talk to enough folks from other schools and find out they were hearing the same stories about you and you learn that all programs pretty much behave the same, with about the same range of talent and the same level of dedication, the same hours of work, the same ups and downs. The main differences in the long run are the quality of the director and his/her longevity at the school. Marian has been lucky in this respect.

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we must cheat on our enrollment figures to get in our class at ISU.

 

I don't think anybody thinks that Marian Catholic "cheats" to get in their class at ISU. I think that the common sentiment is that the IHSA multiplier isn't used for MC at ISU or BOA events. I think it's pretty silly that MC should be in a smaller class at a BOA or ISU event, but I don't think that's the doing of MC...more the events that don't use the multiplier.

 

Do we have a full time percussion staff.

 

Well if you consider our percussion director a staff, sure I'll give you that one.

 

My question is...why wouldn't somebody consider a full time percussion staffer who gets paid a full time teacher salary by the school a "staff"...your only job would be the percussion, day in and day out. You don't need a huge percussion staff if you are on full time.

 

A very favorable practice schedule built into the daytime schedule of the school? You mean I am paying the tuition for college prep classes and getting band practice? Silly suggestion, I won't go there with you.

 

Ummm...maybe you should talk to your kid, because that is what you are paying for. Or maybe you should wait to call something a silly suggestion until you know something about it.

 

Ability to recruit/attract talented musicians from around Chicagoland. Not sure where you are from but in case you weren't aware (not meant in a bad way) that is a pretty big place you are describing. Public transporation is comical and non existant for the most part in the southern suburbs so that leaves parents driving. In rush hour times I'm going to drive my son to school and still make it back without being insane. You are kidding, right?

 

I'm quite familiar with the area, and nowhere was I suggesting that you have students from Gurnee, mixed in with inner city, mixed in with Joliet, etc. But there are a TON OF KIDS within 30 minutes of Marian Catholic....way more kids than a single school district or high school could draw from. And if you are an affluent family with a child who's interested in music, I don't see how you wouldn't give Marian Catholic a look. I'm not saying that every single kid that comes into the program is a virtuoso...but it is an advantage.

 

I am not being defensive and not quite sure why robes-and-swd would think I am.

 

I think you're being defensive because of the tone in all your responses. It's flat out rude, in my opinion. Maybe you're not meaning to be (the internet is infamous for a complete and total lack of ability to portray intent), but that's how it comes across to me.

 

Please realize that I respect your program, but I think it's silly to act like Marian Catholic doesn't have a ton of built in advantages to being successful. Many of those advantages spring from decades of excellence from Greg Bimm. I very much doubt there was a full time percussion or guard staff when he came in...he's gotten that from decades of success. And (like I said) I have no doubt that when you take a look at the finals list for BOA Grand Nationals this weekend, MCs name will not only be on it, but probably the most likely to win "does the most with the least" from that group of bands.

 

That doesn't change the fact that MC is pretty set up to be successful and that the majority of bands in Illinois would LOVE to trade places and have those advantages.

 

AFAIK, most high schools practice during the school day as a part of band class.

 

I'm aware of that as well...I'm not sure but somebody told me once that their practice time in the day is over an hour...like an hour and 15 minutes or something each day....I'm not sure though...I could be wrong.

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Please realize that I respect your program, but I think it's silly to act like Marian Catholic doesn't have a ton of built in advantages to being successful. Many of those advantages spring from decades of excellence from Greg Bimm. I very much doubt there was a full time percussion or guard staff when he came in...he's gotten that from decades of success. And (like I said) I have no doubt that when you take a look at the finals list for BOA Grand Nationals this weekend, MCs name will not only be on it, but probably the most likely to win "does the most with the least" from that group of bands.

 

That doesn't change the fact that MC is pretty set up to be successful and that the majority of bands in Illinois would LOVE to trade places and have those advantages.

 

I just want to respond to this last bit. The rest of it about staff and where the kids come from I can't comment on as I'm not that close to the program anymore.

 

I understand what you're getting at here, but let me try to respond as logically and objectively as I can (trying not to come off as defensive, but as you say, it's hard to control tone on the internet :) )

 

1. I agree that many of the advantages come from the excellence of Greg Bimm. If you're argument is that Marian has an advantage because they have a great director, I don't think you're going to get to many disagreements. The same is true of every top program in this state and the country. Excellence breeds excellence in all walks of life, but it has to be earned first -- it's not "built-in".

 

2. Any other advantages though, I'm still not convinced. I gather that you're saying that because Marian is a private school, it has built in advantages that the majority of IL bands would love to trade places for. You mention recruiting (of some level) as an advantage. Others have mentioned the lack of feeder programs as a disadvantage. Don't you think these things even out to some degree?

 

Ultimately, let me ask you this -- if Marian's private school status gives such huge advantages, why aren't there any other private/catholic schools that compete on a high level. Not in IL, not in BOA, not in TOB, USSBA, anywhere. This is where I'm not convinced of your argument. If being private had such great advantages, there should be a number of other private/catholic bands that we know and love. Sure, Marian also has Mr. Bimm which maybe puts them over the top -- but it seems from your argument that Marian is at an advantage even without Mr. Bimm, so if that's true, where are all the Bimm-less private/catholic schools across the nation competing at an even better-than-average level?

 

Without this evidence, I just don't buy this private school argument so it seems to me that some other difference must be the answer -- namely, Mr. Bimm. :)

 

As I said before, over the decades I've heard theories of every sort of advantage you can think of attributed to all sorts of bands. Virtually all of it is unfounded and speculative. Eventually you find out that all kids at all programs pretty much face the same challenges and follow roughly the same process in this activity. The main differences in quality over the long-run rest with the quality and longevity of the director, imo.

 

(Hopefully, this didn't come off as rude :) Just trying to respond in as straighforward a way as I can.)

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Please realize that I respect your program, but I think it's silly to act like Marian Catholic doesn't have a ton of built in advantages to being successful. Many of those advantages spring from decades of excellence from Greg Bimm. I very much doubt there was a full time percussion or guard staff when he came in...he's gotten that from decades of success. And (like I said) I have no doubt that when you take a look at the finals list for BOA Grand Nationals this weekend, MCs name will not only be on it, but probably the most likely to win "does the most with the least" from that group of bands.

 

That doesn't change the fact that MC is pretty set up to be successful and that the majority of bands in Illinois would LOVE to trade places and have those advantages.

 

I just want to respond to this last bit. The rest of it about staff and where the kids come from I can't comment on as I'm not that close to the program anymore.

 

I understand what you're getting at here, but let me try to respond as logically and objectively as I can (trying not to come off as defensive, but as you say, it's hard to control tone on the internet :) )

 

1. I agree that many of the advantages come from the excellence of Greg Bimm. If you're argument is that Marian has an advantage because they have a great director, I don't think you're going to get to many disagreements. The same is true of every top program in this state and the country. Excellence breeds excellence in all walks of life, but it has to be earned first -- it's not "built-in".

 

2. Any other advantages though, I'm still not convinced. I gather that you're saying that because Marian is a private school, it has built in advantages that the majority of IL bands would love to trade places for. You mention recruiting (of some level) as an advantage. Others have mentioned the lack of feeder programs as a disadvantage. Don't you think these things even out to some degree?

 

Ultimately, let me ask you this -- if Marian's private school status gives such huge advantages, why aren't there any other private/catholic schools that compete on a high level. Not in IL, not in BOA, not in TOB, USSBA, anywhere. This is where I'm not convinced of your argument. If being private had such great advantages, there should be a number of other private/catholic bands that we know and love. Sure, Marian also has Mr. Bimm which maybe puts them over the top -- but it seems from your argument that Marian is at an advantage even without Mr. Bimm, so if that's true, where are all the Bimm-less private/catholic schools across the nation competing at an even better-than-average level?

 

Without this evidence, I just don't buy this private school argument so it seems to me that some other difference must be the answer -- namely, Mr. Bimm. :)

 

As I said before, over the decades I've heard theories of every sort of advantage you can think of attributed to all sorts of bands. Virtually all of it is unfounded and speculative. Eventually you find out that all kids at all programs pretty much face the same challenges and follow roughly the same process in this activity. The main differences in quality over the long-run rest with the quality and longevity of the director, imo.

 

(Hopefully, this didn't come off as rude :) Just trying to respond in as straighforward a way as I can.)

The only built in advantages I see from Marian being a private school is that

 

A) they luck out that nobody uses the multiplier against them.

B) they get some great players that would normally be going to other school districts.

 

The other advantages are based on their success:

 

A) the staff and staff contact hours

B) practice schedules and facilities

 

And let me be clear, I think the latter of those things (staff contact hours, etc.) is much more important than any advantage they get from "recruiting" kids or not having the multiplier used against them (does it really matter what class they are in at ISU? C'mon).

 

I'm just saying that the program is in a much more advantaged state than when Bimm took over, and that it has many advantages built in, and that the whole "feel good, Marian is the poor pauper band that puts together their show with glue and popsicle sticks paid by government welfare" thing, while touching, isn't an accurate view. I realize they're not loaded, but they're not strapped in any way either. And unless your name is Prospect, Lake Park, or starts with Lincoln-Way in Illinois, you'd probably trade for their economics any day of the week.

 

And finally, again, I'm not saying it's unearned. It's earned. But it is what it is.

 

PS. You've not been rude in any way. Thanks for having this discussion, and best of luck to you guys this coming weekend at Grand Nationals!

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The only built in advantages I see from Marian being a private school is that

 

A) they luck out that nobody uses the multiplier against them.

B) they get some great players that would normally be going to other school districts.

 

The other advantages are based on their success:

 

A) the staff and staff contact hours

B) practice schedules and facilities

 

And let me be clear, I think the latter of those things (staff contact hours, etc.) is much more important than any advantage they get from "recruiting" kids or not having the multiplier used against them (does it really matter what class they are in at ISU? C'mon).

 

I'm just saying that the program is in a much more advantaged state than when Bimm took over, and that it has many advantages built in, and that the whole "feel good, Marian is the poor pauper band that puts together their show with glue and popsicle sticks paid by government welfare" thing, while touching, isn't an accurate view. I realize they're not loaded, but they're not strapped in any way either. And unless your name is Prospect, Lake Park, or starts with Lincoln-Way in Illinois, you'd probably trade for their economics any day of the week.

 

And finally, again, I'm not saying it's unearned. It's earned. But it is what it is.

 

PS. You've not been rude in any way. Thanks for having this discussion, and best of luck to you guys this coming weekend at Grand Nationals!

Cool -- okay, thanks for clarifying a bit !!

 

I guess I've just been thrown by your wording -- "built in" advantages connotes that these are advantages that other schools aren't capable of obtaining. Mr. Bimm was hired right out of college -- it's not like Marian won a bidding war by throwing Yankees money at him! So I guess I just don't see having him as a "built-in" advantage in that any school could hire a great director. It's not easy, of course, and probably requires some luck, but the opportunity is there for everyone equally.

 

As for the multiplier thing, I don't think it matters much to Marian's success. If they were put in class 6A or whatever, I doubt that would have one iota difference as to the quality of the Marian program. They might have a few less pieces of hardware, but it wouldn't advantage/disadvantage the program at all. So I guess I don't see that as an "advantage", just an anomoly, maybe.

 

It's true that Marian gets some great players that would otherwise go to a district school. But they also get some, shall we say, not-so-great players B) who want to march there that would otherwise have gone to a district school. Marian doesn't audition and basically anyone who wants to be in band and makes the commitment is in. So I think this "open borders" policy can work both ways. We're talking about 13-year olds here, so I think it's pretty much a crapshoot at all schools as to what kind of talent you get. It's more clay than art at that point, methinks.

 

As for the staff issues and the school day practice -- again, yes, these are things that Marian has, but I don't see how this is a "built-in" advantage. Any school could choose to do these things, and I believe many do. So has Marian figured out a formula that works better for them? Absolutely. But I don't get how it's a "built-in" advantage. Any school ccould copy some of these techniques if they choose.

 

I don't believe that Marian is a pauper band with popsicle sticks and glue. If you've heard people say that, I'd chalk that up to the same stuff I've been talking about here -- everyone thinks their band has to overcome disadvantages and Marian folks are not immune to that. I think most of it is nonsense. Every program has stories of cobbling together uniforms and instruments, but the top bands (Marian included) are all relatively well supported.

 

This is the natural outpouring of success -- success breeds success, so yes, I agree that most programs would like to switch places with Marian, Prospect, LP, LW, etc. Would that it were that easy!! Fortunately, there is a way to "switch places" with those bands, and it is to grow that success little by little just like all of those bands did. Each of them was a relative nobody at one point, looking up at other bands and wishing they were there. (Many of those "other bands" are no longer around, btw, so their places were switched in essence, just not overnight).

 

So long story short -- I guess my responses came about becuase of your use of the words "advantage" and "built-in". These to me seem like loaded words -- words that imply some unfairness or something that is not available to other schools. Mind you "available" does not mean "easy" or "instant", but available nonetheless.

 

I did think it odd that the article cast Marian as a bit of an underdog as if not winning Grand Nationals since way back in 2000 puts them on the outside looking in; what bothered me was the indication that Marian somehow is trying to "get back on top" as if an unbroken string of Grand National Finals appearances isn't astonishingly successful as is. This feeling of 1st place or failure is so not Marian's philosophy, nor is it the philosophy of most competitive bands I believe. I get, though, that this article was presented to the non-involved in this activity, so I understand that that's how to grab the attention of the reader. I just wish it was slanted a little more towards "continued success" and not so much "getting back to success." Overall, though, great article -- any positive focus on this activiity is good!!

 

 

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I am new to marching band. This is only my second year as a fan. I don't pretend to understand all of the advantages and disadvantages various schools experience. What I do know is that I have 2 grandchildren in the Lincoln-Way school system. Both enjoyed band throughtout grammar school. My grandson who is a Freshmen decided not to participate in marching band because he would have to take concert band as a class during the day. This doesn't leave room in his schedules for other electives. He could take summer school to make up for it, but many choose not to. He thought 4 years of a foreign language would be more beneficial with potential colleges. My granddaughter is a Sophmore at another Lincoln-Way. She chose to participate in marching band, but in order to take foreign language she has to take 2 full semesters of summer school.

 

I would think not offering marching band as a class puts these schools at a distinct disadvantage, yet I loved both shows and they competed well, I think. Even if the grammar schools are great, children may choose not to do marching band because of the scheduling issues. I had no idea children in other districts could take marching band as an elective. However, these schools music programs enjoy above average support from the community. I guess my point is, every school has advantages and every school has disadvantages.

 

And, by the way, my Lincoln-Way grandchildren traveled on yellow buses and slept on gym floors. I thought this was just part of the marching band experience. Is this not typical?

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