Before competition commenced, the 2023 Drum Corps International World Championship Finals offered a glimpse of the future to fans and students alike.
For the 11th year, one of the DCI finale event’s highlight performances — that of the INpact Indiana’s Future Band — featured 500 middle school musicians and performers from schools across the state of Indiana on the field at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
Every year, the performance serves as a resounding culmination to a memorable weekend of fun, learning and exciting new experiences for middle school students. 2023’s iteration was no exception.
“It is such a wonderful feeling to see them perform,” said INpact director Katy Briel who serves as director of bands in the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation. “I always get teary-eyed, just because I love music education, and I know what a great experience that is for students, just seeing all of their faces light up when they get to perform for such a great audience here in Lucas Oil Stadium.”
Members of the 2023 INpact Band were selected out of a pool of approximately 1,000 applicants, all of whom were recommended by their own school band directors.
For those selected, events in Indianapolis began Friday, August 11, with an array of rehearsals, educational programs and activities with an experienced team of educators and volunteers. Participants had the opportunity to rehearse with Dr. John Noworyta, director of bands at the University of Indianapolis, and to learn valuable leadership skills from motivational speaker Fran Kick.
Further, students had the opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences and in a variety of venues, taking the stage at Indianapolis’ “Shining a Light” event at scenic Monument Circle, putting on a show at the SoundSport International Music & Food Festival, and rounding out their week as the opening act at the DCI World Championship Finals.
The INpact Band’s 2023 performance featured fun and familiar tunes for participating students, including Mark James’ “Hooked on the Feeling” — which, Briel said, many of the students recognized from Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” — as well as “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”
“I'm a middle school band director, so I asked my students what they would like to play,” Briel said of her process when picking repertoire for the 2023 INpact Band. “The students love that song from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ and then we did ‘This is Me,’ because I think that message is really important for students right now.”
A strong proponent of music education and the INpact Band program as a whole, Al Chez once again took part as a featured trumpet soloist with 2023’s INpact participants. Chez, who is a drum corps alum, played for more than 25 years on “Late Night” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
“I grew up doing the drum corps activity,” Chez said. “If I can inspire a middle school kid to go on to be a participant in a Drum Corps International event, or go on to be a player or music teacher, I think it's our duty to do it. I consider it an honor to give back to the activity in that way, in any way I can. And I just love it.”
According to Briel, a key mission of the INpact Band program is to create building blocks for music careers of all kinds to flourish, by way of a memorable educational and performance experience.
“I think this event gives a firsthand experience of what there is outside of just middle school band,” Briel said. “They get to see firsthand what experiences there are that they can participate in, and then our goal is they continue playing and join these ensembles in the future.”
And as music educators, Briel noted that the hope of all those working with the INpact Band is to open young musicians’ eyes to an array of opportunities by which they can further dive into their own unique talents and passions as it pertains to music and the performing arts.
“They can look into the marching arts and even beyond,” she said,” because our goal as music educators is to make lifelong musicians.”