Information for Marching Band

The BHSN Cougar Band, as our award-winning marching band is called, is composed of a Wind Section (all brass and woodwind players) and a Percussion Section (drums, melodic percussion instruments, and electric keyboards/synthesizers). The Percussion Section is divided into the Battery (marching drummers) and the Pit (musicians with bigger instruments that remain stationary). The Color Guard provides visual support for the music using dance, flags, rifles, etc. The Drum Major(s) conduct the band and assist the directors.

18 Lessons Marching Band Teaches Our Kids: A Parent’s Perspective

Signing Up and Fees

Students sign up for Marching Band in the spring when they sign up for other classes they’ll take in the fall. (Anyone who wants to participate is welcome, although Percussion and Color Guard have auditions in April – inquire about details.) Marching Band is an extracurricular activity, but students receive half a credit for participating. Read this site for general information; details about the upcoming season, including the schedule, will be mailed out to those who sign up during the summer and just before Band Camp in July. Ms. Stockhouse and Mr. Wilson are always available to answer questions.

Approximately $50,000 is needed to run the marching band program for a year. Costs include the show design, contest fees, food and transportation. About half of this is paid by fees – each student must pay approximately $275, due in the spring before classes end. The remainder is raised by the Band Boosters. (Only the stipends paid to the band directors come from the school. Everything else must come from fees and fundraisers.) Students also buy their own shoes (approx. $40) and gloves ($5). If cost is an issue, please talk to Ms. Stockhouse or Mr. Wilson. They do not want the cost to stop anyone from participating. Students may also pay to go on any optional overnight trips – there’s usually a big trip to march in a parade every 2-4 years. There are a couple ways to raise money for your family’s band expenses – see the Info-All Bands and Boosters-Fundraising pages.


Marching Band uniforms are provided; fittings occur at the beginning of the season. Each student does buy their own shoes and gloves. These are ordered during the uniform fitting procedure. Except for the shoes, everything is kept in the band truck trailer. Students wear shorts and a T-shirt under the uniforms, so changing is not a big deal. Students also receive a free “show shirt” each year.


  • The practice and competition schedule can be found on the Calendar page of this website. Practice begins about two weeks before school starts. Band Camp consists 6 to 12 hour days during which the main parts of the year’s program are learned. Then, from the time school begins through October, students are busy Tuesday and Thursday evenings, possibly some Wednesdays after school, most of the day every Saturday, and a few Friday evenings to perform at home football games. It is a lot of work, but the kids enjoy being busy and a part of the “band family.” With some time management, it IS possible to also get good grades and participate in sports! Attendance is mandatory and essential. Sickness, injury, or a death in the family may be excused with a message before rehearsal and a note upon return.
  • Students should arrive 15 minutes early so they are totally ready to begin at the scheduled start time. Especially during the hot weather, wear suitable clothing and shoes (no sandles) and bring plenty of water (eg., a gallon container to leave on the sidelines for breaks).
  • To make transporting the kids back and forth less time-consuming, consider joining a carpool. Look for a link to the “carpool map” on the home page of the website, which will help you find other people wanting to carpool in your area.
  • Marching band practices sometime run late and your student often won’t be ready to leave until 15 minutes after practice. Perfection takes time. Parents are welcome to come early and watch the last few minutes. It’s a good time to see what they are working on and to meet other parents.


  • Contests normally occur every Saturday. The early ones (invitationals) provide competition experience. Later contests determine which bands go on to higher level competitions.
  • We participate in ISSMA Open (as opposed to Scholastic or Festival) Class B. Classes A, B, C, and D are determined solely on school size.  We have also done the Bands of America and Mid-State Band Assoc. prelims and finals at the end of the season.
  • The ISSMA marching band competition begins with Regionals. (Prior to 2013, there was a district competition first.) At Regionals, the top 10 scoring bands in each region qualify for the Semi-State contest. Thus, there are twenty bands at the Semi-State contest – 10 from the northern Region and 10 from the southern Region. The 10 highest-scoring bands at Semi-State qualify for the State Finals which are held at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
  • Family and friends should come to as many Marching Band contests as they can. It’s fascinating to see the band and the show evolve. As time goes on, parts are added to the program and the formations become more clear. Look for the (traditionally very loud) North cheering section in the stands near the center of the field at the left 40 yard line.
  • Family members do have to drive themselves and pay admission to attend competitions. It’s fun to watch the other bands, but it is common for spectators to come and go, rather than sit through the whole thing.  Schedules are very strict and things run on time; allow time to park and walk to the bleachers. There is normally some kind of food for sale.
  • Watching from a high or low vantage point brings a whole new perspective.
  • Detailed itineraries for each competition are emailed to the band listserv a few days beforehand — usually by Thursday. Sometimes the buses leave North very early in the morning, other times not so early, depending on when North performs. Return times can also vary widely. If you are interested in the schedule at the contest site or, later, the results, check
  • Meals are provided for the students before or after the performance, served by some very generous volunteers. See the week’s itinerary for confirmation. Parents may be asked to send water, desserts, etc.
  • Store-purchased and packaged food ONLY is allowed on the buses if the kids want to bring something for the ride.
  • Don’t worry if the bus is late returning from a band contest—arrival times are always estimates.
  • When waiting for the Marching Band to get back, don’t park in the circle drive, the buses have to pull in there.
  • Parents are welcome to watch the video of the day’s performance with the band in the auditorium when they return.

Chow Wagon

Some very hard-working volunteers plan, prepare, and serve snacks and meals to band members, staff, and volunteers at competitions.

A menu is sent out at the beginning of the week and donations such as snacks, water, and desserts are requested. Any leftover snack or drink items will be saved (if possible) for the next week. Homemade items are welcome! Items can be dropped off in the morning on the way into practice.

There will always be a peanut butter alternative and jelly available if the kids would rather have that or if they are still hungry. We will also always have vegetarian and peanut-free options – just make sure the kids check with a volunteer to be sure they get the right stuff. Any other allergies? Communicate with the Chow Wagon Chair in advance and she will see what can be done.

If your student would rather bring his or her own food, they are happy to stash it in their coolers for the ride there. Please drop off at the Chow Wagon trailer first thing in the morning on competition Saturdays.

Interested in helping? The biggest need is for people to help set up and clean up at the competition site. No need to sign up in advance – just show up at the Chow Wagon trailer, which is parked next to the big Cougar Band truck trailer, and they will put you to work!

Parent Volunteers

It takes family involvement to make the Cougar Band season run smoothly.

  • Parents coordinate, contribute to, and help serve meals during band camp and on competition days.
  • The Pit Crew includes many parents who help get the stationary instruments, props, and equipment onto the field at competitions.
  • Chaperones are needed to ride the bus to competitions and check to be sure everyone is aboard before leaving.

Parents are urgently needed in many other capacities as well. See the Boosters-Volunteering page for more information!

Football Games

On home game days, the students practice after school, get their own dinner (older students may or may not be allowed to leave and give younger ones rides to Subway or somewhere else), then get ready for the game. For the first couple of weeks, getting ready means just warming up and practicing. For later games, it involves putting uniforms on as well. For the earlier games, the students wear their official band contest t-shirts (which they usually get the night of the parent pitch-in). The band plays the National Anthem on the field around 6:45pm, then moves to the stands where they play during timeouts and after North scores. They leave the stands to line-up for the halftime show about 15 minutes before halftime. The drum line warms up, the pit crew gets stuff ready to roll, etc. Once half time starts, the band marches onto the field and begins their show, which is the same show they present at contests. After half time, the band members usually shed their uniforms, then some leave while others (it varies by week) return to the stands for the fourth-quarter. Band parents traditionally sit together, wear maroon shirts, and cheer and clap and make lots of noise when the students come on and off the field and at certain points during the show.

 See the FAQ and Glossary pages for even more information about Marching Band!