As Georgia schools began closing down last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, many students unknowingly packed up their instruments and color guard equipment for the last time that school year. The silence in bands rooms echoed across barren football fields and deserted student sections.

But finally, more than a year later, instrumentals are being tuned, flags spun and shakos fluffed as Fulton County marching bands return to the field in competition.

Many of the nation’s largest competitions were cancelled last year, including the Bands of America Championships. Presented by Music for All, bands across the country compete in three championships — Regional Championships, Super Regional Championships and the three day Grand National held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Several Georgia-based competition were also cancelled, including the Fulton County Marching Band Exhibition. The event invites all Fulton County bands to perform their shows in exhibition, allowing them to see how they place at the beginning of the marching season.

Riverwood International Charter School’s marching band has been preparing for the 2021 season since mid-July, which included a two-week long band camp.

“We weren’t able to do a field production last year, so the majority of our marching ensemble is new members who are learning how to do marching band for the first time,” Band Director Samuel Crawford said. “I think that the involvement and demand of marching band was shocking to them at first, but they are settling in nicely and starting to see the payoff.”

This year’s show is called “Raiders,” based off the Indiana Jones franchise. The show will feature music from renowned composers John Williams and Satoshi Yagisawa. Riverwood Marching Band has around 50 students in marching band and will compete in Class A.

The Riverwood Marching Band was invited to represent the state of Georgia in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington D.C. for the summer of 2021. The parade was canceled due to COVID-19, but the band’s invite was extended to the 2022 parade.

Assistant Band Director and Director of Orchestras Jessica Luhrs said the marching band and color guard received excellent ratings in their last marching band competition in 2019.

“We are excited about growing our band program into the future!” Crawford said. “We have grown from 80 to 140 students in the band program in the past two years, and we are excited to get more of our concert band students involved in marching band going forward.”

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