Beyond the Classroom

[Email the webmaster if you have information or other opportunities that should be added to this list!]

Extracurricular Bands

Students are welcome and encouraged to join the Cougar Marching Band, the Winter Percussion Ensemble, and/or the Pep Band. Even though Marching Band and Winter Percussion are hard work, the vast majority of those who join have a great experience and are eager to return every year. See the ‘About – Our Bands’ page for longer descriptions.

Band Festivals

Each band at BHSN normally attends at least one band festival. The top jazz and concert bands are the most active, normally taking at least one overnight trip every year or two. Some of the festivals North frequently attends include the following.

The Bloomington Jazz Fest is a two-day affair held at BHS North every other year, alternating with BHS South. Bands and combos from all over the state (and beyond) attend. Each performance is rated by a panel of professional jazz musicians and a private critique/clinic is offered afterward. Outstanding soloists are awarded certificates and trophies. All performances by students groups and the guest artist are free and open to the public. They occur in various rooms, and people come and go depending on their interests. All the jazz bands participate.

At the Purdue Jazz Festival, guest artists, adjudicators, and clinicians share their knowledge via concerts, jazz jams, competitions, and workshops (clinics) with thousands of students from all over the Midwest. Typically, Jazz 1 and II and some combos ride a bus up for the day. Awards are presented in each of the various rooms.

The Ball State Jazz Festival, like the Purdue Jazz Fest, has competitions, clinics, critiques, awards, and a concert in the evening featuring a guest artist and 1 or 2 of the top high school bands.  Awards include 1st, 2nd, 3rd in each of the three Big Band rooms, 1st & 2nd in the Combo room, best soloist on each instrument in the Big Band rooms, plus overall best soloist in each room, and scholarships for summer music camps  in the Combo room.

The Grand National Adjudicator’s Invitational (NAI) is a prestigious Concert Band and Orchestra Festival. The Symphonic Band has gone on overnight trips to attend. It is noncompetitive (but judged) and open to any instrumental group that has received superior performance ratings for the past 3 consecutive years in district, regional, or state festivals.

ISSMA Solo & Ensemble

Solo & Ensemble is a chance for students to perform as soloists and/or in small groups before judges who give personal feedback, as well as gold, silver, and bronze ratings. Students choose music from different categories based on difficulty. Those performing music with the highest difficulty rating (Group I) have the option of going on to the State Solo & Ensemble contest, if they receive a gold rating at the District level.

The District contest is normally held at BHSN in January or February with the help of many band students and parent volunteers. Winds, percussion, and strings play on one day, while vocal and piano performances occur a week earlier or later. Participants from many schools are scheduled at different times in rooms throughout the school. Anyone can watch, but normally there are only a few people attending each performance. Students find out if they’ve received an award a few minutes after they play. This is actually a great event for family members to attend, since individual instruments can be clearly heard! All band students are encouraged to participate by playing a solo and/or an ensemble piece.

The State contest is held in late February or early March in Indianapolis. Note that an application form and payment for the state contest must be submitted AT the district contest!

Honor Bands

The Indiana Bandmasters Association (IBA) sponsors All-District, All-Region, and All-State and All-State Honor Band opportunities for high school and middle school concert band students. North students are encouraged to try out for the All-District and All-State Bands. The All-Region and Junior All-State bands are mainly middle school students, but freshmen are eligible also. Those chosen later gather for rehearsals and a concert.
See for details.

IBA All-District Bands are for students in grades 9-12. Selection is based on recommendations from teachers. Each school is guaranteed to have at least one student chosen. Applications are submitted in September and the rehearsal/concert weekend is in November. (Our district’s concert is held at BHSN.) At North, students in Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band are eligible.

The prestigious IBA All-State Band and All-State Honor Band are composed of exceptional high school students. The very best are selected for the Honor Band. Auditions occur in January at various sites throughout the state, including North, with each student playing prescribed excerpts chosen to discriminate between the best players. The rehearsal/concert weekend is out of town in March (~$200 for lodging, meals, music, etc.).

The All-State Jazz Band and the All-State Jazz Combo are sponsored by the Indiana Music Educators Association and the Indiana Jazz Educators Association. Auditions take place at various locations around the state in late Oct/early Nov. Those chosen for the two groups spend a weekend in January in Fort Wayne for rehearsals and a concert in conjunction with the IMEA Convention ($).
See for more information.

The IMEA Honor Band is a concert band that performs at the annual convention of the Indiana Music Educators Association. Band directors can nominate up to 3 or 4 students. Selection is based on recommendations, participation and awards at ISSMA Solo/Ensemble contests, previous participation in the IMEA Honor Band and other state honor bands, and whether or not the student takes private lessons. Priority is given to upperclassmen, and an attempt is made to represent as many schools as possible, while maintaining the highest quality. Rehearsals and a concert take place over the weekend of the IMEA Convention in Fort Wayne in January ($).
See fore more information.

B-Town Jazz

B-Town Jazz (formerly Jazz from Bloomington) is a nonprofit group formed in 1999 by Bloomington area jazz musicians and aficionados with the goal of increasing public awareness of jazz, America’s original contribution to the arts. The group organizes low-cost and free jazz events for the community in the form of concerts, jazz fests, lectures, workshops, and jam sessions. These activities have been developed with support from and through collaboration with a variety of organizations and corporate sponsors.

For students, B-Town Jazz brings professional jazz artists to perform at local elementary schools and allows dedicated high school musicians the opportunity to connect with accomplished mentors appropriate to their skills, interests and instruments. Performance opportunities for students include the informal jam sessions and the annual “Future of Jazz” concert, which features outstanding pre-college talent.  They may also sponsor a summer jazz camp!

For information or to join/donate, go to

Community Groups

The Musical Arts Youth Organization (MAYO) has several programs available for young musicians in south central Indiana, including a symphony orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and jazz, and rock groups. Check for more information. Placement auditions are in the fall and winter, but you can schedule an audition any time during the school year. There are semester and trimester groups.

Indiana Youth Musicians (IYM) provides an opportunity to play music in a  supportive, yet challenging environment and to try out new and different possibilities in music.  The Fenice Orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion) plays intermediate to advanced level music. Chamber music, bluegrass, jazz, pop, and other ensembles may also be available.Their website is Auditions are in the fall, possibly again in the winter.

The Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble performs music for winds and percussion at the highest artistic level. It includes everyone from community members to university and high school teachers and students, but all are highly accomplished musicians. Auditions are normally held in the early fall, however, anyone who is interested in joining the ensemble should contact the personnel manager to audition at any time. Details are at

Summer Camps

The camps below are recommended by the band directors. Please feel free to ask questions about these and other summer music opportunities. A summer music camp can really provide a “spark” in your child’s life.

The IU Summer Music Clinic (June 14-20, 2015) is an OUTSTANDING symphonic band/orchestral opportunity with a jazz contingent. Students live in university housing with final concerts presented in the Musical Arts Center. There are limited openings in several of the wind and percussion sections, so students should apply early in the spring!!

Other IU Summer Programs include sax, piano, and percussion academies:

The Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops (June 29-July 4 and July 6-11, 2014, plus some 2-day sessions) at the University of Louisville in Kentucky are an INTENSE immersion in jazz improvisation. Jamey Aebersold is regarded around the globe as THE jazz educator. Students come away TOTALLY inspired to study and practice.

The Shell Lake Arts Center Clinics (in June and July) include everything from wind ensemble, jazz, piano, and guitar to film making and pottery.  They take place in the beautiful Northwoods of northwest Wisconsin, where IU folks such as Dominic Spera, David Pavolka, Luke Gillespie, Lennie Foy are on faculty. The directors may have a few Shell Lake scholarships available. Please encourage students to talk to them about these summer music clinics.