The Seymour and Brownstown Central high school football teams aren’t the only ones gearing up for the upcoming season. So are the schools’ marching bands.

The Marching Owls and Band of Braves each recently conducted weeklong camps, giving new members a chance to practice what they learned earlier in the summer during marching fundamental classes.

Those camps also gave the directors and drum majors an opportunity to see how everything is coming together in preparation for the first home games of the season.

Marching Owls

The 180-plus members of the Seymour band spent one of the hottest weeks of the summer practicing marching and music. Despite the heat, director Kevin Cottrill said the students did a great job.

“They were troopers, and they made it,” he said. “They work hard. They know what they need to do, and I always find that they do what we ask.”

Cottrill, who is beginning his 14th year as director, was happy with how the new members picked up marching.

“They just can’t show up to camp and be successful, so they did put in their time in June, and it has paid off,” he said.

The band’s theme this year is “Funkiest Night of the Century.” During the first couple of home football games, Aug. 21 and Sept. 4, the band will play the modern tunes “Some Nights” by Fun., “Counting Stars” by One Republic, “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and “Centuries” by Fall Out Boy.

For the remaining games and at Indiana University Band Day on Sept. 19, the Marching Owls will play different music. In a typical season, Cottrill said, they will play 25 to 30 different musical numbers.

“We always want it to be music that’s recognizable for the public,” he said.

“I go to football games all over the state and go to marching band competitions, and some of the competitive bands are playing music that you’ve never heard before,” he said. “It’s original stuff or whatever, and it’s really good, but it’s not modern; it’s not pop-oriented. So we hope that we can entertain the youngest person in the audience to the person who’s maybe in their 70s or 80s coming to catch a football game.”

Drum majors Josiah Rudge and Carson Regruth, both seniors, and Hallie Crenshaw, a junior, also are excited about sharing the music at football games.

“It’s good because people hear it, and they can recognize it straight away,” Regruth said.

“It’s just more enjoyable for the audience because they recognize what we are playing,” Crenshaw added.

Rudge, who is the only second-year drum major, said the music is more modern than in past years.

“I like that I already know how most of the rhythms go because you hear it on the radio,” he said. “When you play modern popular music, you automatically know people are going to like it rather than picking older songs.”

Cottrill said the band’s goal each year is to entertain people at a high level. This year, there are a few more goals, including being excellent in marching precision, music and rehearsal.

“We really talked at the beginning of the week (of camp) about let’s move from being really, really good to trying to be excellent. I do think we’re dealing with excellence in the program,” he said. “Then also, talking about the tradition of the program, which has been received very well by the community, what does it mean to have a tradition of excellence and have expectations placed on you from the community?”

To make it all come together, Cottrill has the help of assistant directors Ellen Mirer and Debbie Carroll, parents and band boosters. He also has several graduates return to help with camp.

“The great thing is I don’t have to call them. They just show up. That’s phenomenal,” he said of the graduates. “We have the greatest support, and that really helps us in camp because then you can break down into small sections, and you can really refine and define some of the things that you need to do to get better. … I’m just thankful that we have a lot of teamwork that’s going on in the program right now.”

Band of Braves

During the fall season at Brownstown Central’s Blevins Memorial Stadium, those listening to the Band of Braves will experience an emotional roller coaster.

From Rihanna’s “Disturbia” to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” to Disney’s “Fantasmic” to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” the band hopes to draw people in and take them on a ride.

“It’s really out there,” junior drum major Suzzanna Kramer said. “It’s like mental instability, and a lot of songs today, you really figure out that a lot of them are about that, like just breaking down.”

Richard Branaman, in his 16th year as Brownstown Central’s director of bands, said people can connect to the music.

“We get to take our audience with us on our journey,” he said. “Some days, we might make them a little crazy. And some days, we might have them walking out hooked on a feeling. You just don’t know. That’s the great thing about music, it touches all of us. It’s amazing all of the different emotions that music can portray. … The right song at the right time can just put you in that place.”

Branaman said the band, which has more than 40 members this year, will have to hit the ground running because the Braves’ first two games, Aug. 21 and 28, are at home.

At each home game, the band performs a pregame show, where it plays the visiting team’s school song, Brownstown’s school song and the national anthem. The group also performs at halftime and on the sideline and does features with the drill team.

To prepare for the games, the band recently spent a week working on marching formations during a camp. Younger members learned about marching during summer band in June.

Branaman said nearly a third of the band members are underclassmen.

“I think my freshmen have raised the bar for the incoming freshmen for years to come because they are so much better at doing this part of it (marching) than the freshmen we’ve had coming in in years past,” he said. “It’s a big group, and they figured things out.”

Kramer and senior drum major Cynthia Edwards have seen good things in the freshmen, too.

“This larger group of underclassmen, I feel like they can learn things quicker, and I really feel like they’ll be able to pick up and get everything figured out like we need to,” said Kramer, who is in her second year as a drum major. “Then as they grow up and mature, then they can really help lead the people coming up from middle school.”

Edwards said she is impressed with how fast the freshmen learned everything.

“The people that came to summer band, they have picked it up pretty quickly,” the three-year drum major said. “There’s about five or six that didn’t come to summer band, and they seem to be picking it up pretty quickly.”

During summer band, Edwards said freshmen were paired with upperclassmen as part of a band buddies program to ensure they did everything right and knew what was going on. There also was a “Wall of Kindness,” where members could anonymously write a positive note about a fellow band member.

“People could go up and read comments about them, like ‘Good job this week,’” Edwards said. “It pushed and helped the freshmen feel like they are welcome.”

The band members are excited about Aug. 21 arriving so they can showcase their work.

“The first show, you see it kind of all come together,” Edwards said. “It’s just like a sense of pride for the whole band and then for the school in general. It just makes you feel better about what you put into it.”

Being under the Friday night lights is just as exhilarating for the band members as it is for the football players.

“I think this year, with a bigger size, they’ll take notice of us,” Edwards said.

Kramer also is a cheerleader at the games, so she gets to experience being on the sideline with that squad and on the field with the band.

“Being involved like that, it’s like you’re a part of the game,” she said. “You may not be a football player actually playing and what the fans come here to see, but necessarily, they didn’t just come to see the football team. There’s so much more to the game than the football team. I really just hope the band does their best, and I just want it overall to be a great season.”

At a glance

The Brownstown Central High School Band of Braves will play at home football games this fall.

You can catch their shows at halftime of games Aug. 21 and 28, Sept. 11 and Oct. 2 and 16.

The band, which has more than 40 members this year, is directed by Richard Branaman. The drum majors are senior Cynthia Edwards, junior Suzzanna Kramer and sophomore Bailey Hughes.

At a glance

The Seymour High School Marching Owls will play at home football games this fall.

You can catch their shows at halftime of games Aug. 21, Sept. 4, 18 and 25 and Oct. 9.

The band, which again this year has more than 180 members, is directed by Kevin Cottrill. The drum majors are seniors Josiah Rudge and Carson Regruth and junior Hallie Crenshaw.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.