Bands of America (BOA), a division of Music for All, is an organization that promotes and organizes marching band competitions for high school students. Competitions include both Regional and Super Regional Championships as well as the Grand National Championships. The BOA Grand National Championships is considered the largest and most prestigious national marching band event available to high school marching bands. This annual three-day competition is currently held in the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with about 100 high school marching bands participating from around the country. More than 50,000 participants and spectators attend the event annually. No performance qualifications are required to compete.
Bands of America places the weight of the numbers in the scoring system places 60% of the value on music and 40% on visual, and at the same time, 60% of the score is within the area of general effect and 40% within the performance area. The music performance scores (individual & ensemble) are averaged for 20%, as are the visual performance scores (individual & ensemble). The general effect music scores (20% each) are added together. The general effect visual score is also 20%.
In addition to marching band events, Music for All, Inc. organizes concert band festivals and symposia, musical and leadership clinics, as well as the Honor Band of America and the newly formed Jazz Band of America. One of the largest events of the year is the annual Summer Symposium, which offers a week of instruction from some of the most renowned musicians in the world. High school students from across the nation come together on the campus of Ball State University. The week includes camps for concert band, jazz band, percussion, marching band, colorguard, and the famous George N. Parks Drum Major Academy.
History of Grand National Championships
In 1976, the first Bands of America (founded in 1975 as "Marching Bands of America") marching band championship was held during the Summer National Championship in Whitewater, Wisconsin, as part of the Summer Workshop/Festival. Four years later, the first Grand National Championships (now commonly referred to as "Grand Nationals") was held at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, which was won by the J. M. Tate High School.
Beginning in 1984, the organization officially changed its name to Bands of America. In 1984, the competition was moved to Indianapolis, Indiana's Hoosier Dome (later renamed the RCA Dome). Except for 1987 and 1988, when the Grand Nationals were held in the Pontiac Silverdome, the event has remained in Indianapolis.
In 2006, BOA merged with Music for All Foundation to create Music for All, Inc. Bands of America is used as the organization name for all marching band competitions through the Music for All, Inc.
With the start of the 2008 marching season, the Grand National Championships has been held in the Lucas Oil Stadium located immediately south of the former site of the RCA Dome. Fans and competitors who were previously thrilled by the sight of the dome's roof appearing on the city's skyline were disappointed to learn of its deflation and subsequent demolition which allowed for the expansion to the Indiana Convention Center and the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium. The expansion has ultimately benefited the competition's student workshops and various demonstrations held there during the Grand National Championships.
At the 2016 BOA Grand National Championships, Carmel High School from Carmel, Indiana, and Avon High School from Avon, Indiana, both tied scores with a 97.45. Avon won Best Music and Visual, but Carmel won Best General Effect. The rules stated that in the event of a tie the band with the higher GE score would win the title. With Carmel winning GE, they won the 2016 BOA Grand National Championship. The rule was changed for future seasons that if there is a tie in the Finals of BOA Grand Nationals, a Super Regional Championship, or a Regional Championship for 1st place, both schools would be awarded the championship. Also at the 2016 Championships, Dobyns-Bennett High School from Kingsport, Tennessee, and Homestead High School from Fort Wayne, Indiana, tied for 12th place in semifinals, so they both were accepted into Finals, raising the number of finalists that year to 13.
The Music for All/Bands of America headquarters is located in downtown Indianapolis at the historic Union Station. BOA's headquarters were previously located in Schaumburg, Illinois and Arlington Heights, Illinois before relocating to Indianapolis in 2003.
BOA Honor Band in the Rose Parade
Bands of America has four times (in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017) been invited to have an Honor Marching Band perform at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The Parade takes place on January 1. Under the direction of George N. Parks, the former director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Minuteman Marching Band, the first two years being present and Bob Buckner, former director of the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, being head of the program the most recent time present, the 300-member marching band was composed of select high school band students from all 50 states. In 2009, the ensemble marched adjacent to four floats sponsored by NAMM, the International Music Products Association, which is a major sponsor of Bands of America. Each float featured a character from the TV show Sesame Street: Big Bird, Elmo, Abby, and Oscar the Grouch. Each float also carried a soloist or small ensemble that represented a different type of music. On the lead float was Bob McGrath, two backup singers, a jazz combo, and a string quartet; the next float carried a vocal soloist, the third float carried a Latin guitarist, and the final float carried a garbage can percussionist. Both the 2005 and 2009 bands played music by Gloria Estefan and "The Stars and Stripes."
Honor Band of America
Formed in 1992, the Honor Band of America (HBOA) is an honor concert band assembled by BOA every year. This ensemble is formed entirely of high school students. It has risen to become one of the finest, most respected honor ensembles in the United States. Most often they have the opportunity to be the first band to play newly commissioned concert band pieces. Students may learn more and apply for the HBOA by visiting the Music for All website.
Jazz Band of America
A new ensemble first launched by Music for All in 2007, the Jazz Band of America consists of high school musicians who apply by taped audition. They have the opportunity of playing with world-class jazz musicians live on stage.
Past Grand National Marching Band Champions
BOA Super Regional Competition Award Ceremony, St. Louis, Missouri, 2005
From left to right: BOA Regional Finalist medal, BOA Super Regional Finalist medal, and a BOA Grand National Championships Finalist medal.
- 2018 - Carmel High School - Carmel, Indiana
- 2017 - Carmel High School - Carmel, Indiana
- 2016 - Carmel High School - Carmel, Indiana
- 2015 - Broken Arrow High School - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
- Show Title: Wild Blue Orchid
- Musical Selections: Festive Overture, Jazz Suite no. 2: Waltz, Symphony no. 10, Piano Concerto no. 2, Symphony no. 5: Mvmt. IV (all by Dmitri Shostakovitch)
- 2014 - Tarpon Springs High School - Tarpon Springs, Florida
- Show Title: Man vs. Machine
- Musical Selections: Human by Christina Perri, Symphony No. 3 by Aaron Copland, Symphony in B-flat by Paul Hindemith, Smiling by Harry Gregson Williams, Original Music by Frank Sullivan and Kevin Ford
- 2013 - The Woodlands High School - The Woodlands, Texas
- Show Title: Crossing Boundaries
- Musical Selections: Symphony No. 4 "Heroes" by Phillip Glass; Different Trains by Steve Reich; The Angel by Alexandre Desplat; Fastest Trains by John Best, Andy Salmon, and Brian Perez; Symphony No. 3 by Aram Khachaturian
- 2012 - Carmel High School - Carmel, Indiana
- Show Title: What a Tangled Web We Weave
- Musical Selections: Original Music (Richard Saucedo)
- 2011 - Broken Arrow High School - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
- Show Title: Destiny Leaves You No Choice
- Musical Selections: My Immortal by Evanescence; Message For The Queen by Tyler Bates; Tannhauser by Richard Wagner; Lohengrin: Prelude to Act III by Richard Wagner; Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral by Richard Wagner
- 2010 - Avon High School - Avon, Indiana
- Show Title: Iconoclash
- Musical Selections: Magnum Opus ("Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin and "Symphony No. 5" by Beethoven); Everybody Hurts ("Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. and "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven); Schadenfreude ("Symphony No. 9" by Beethoven and "Adagio for Strings" by Barber)
- 2009 - Avon High School - Avon, Indiana
- 2008 - Avon High School - Avon, Indiana
- 2007 - L.D. Bell High School - Hurst, Texas
- 2006 - Broken Arrow High School - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
- 2005 - Carmel High School - Carmel, Indiana
- Show Title: Suspended Symbols
- Musical Selections: Original Music (Richard Saucedo)
- 2004 - Lawrence Central High School - Indianapolis, Indiana
- Show Title: La Rosa
- Musical Selections: Desolation (Arturo Rodriguez); Danzon (Arturo Marquez); Spanish Fantasy, Part IV (Chick Corea)
- 2003 - Westfield High School - Houston, Texas
- Show Title: Because We Are....
- Musical Selections: Oh Lois! from Metropolis Symphony (Michael Daugherty); Dead Elvis (Michael Daugherty); Lex from Metropolis Symphony (Michael Daugherty); Water Night (Eric Whitacre); Original Music (Mark Higginbotham)
- 2002 - Lassiter High School - Marietta, Georgia
- 2001 - Lawrence Central High School - Indianapolis, Indiana
- Show Title: Metamorphosis: Ancient Myth to a Modern Vision
- Musical Selections: The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms (Michael Kamen)
- 2000 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- Show Title: The Tragic Medusa
- Musical Selections: Gorgon (Christopher Rouse); Flute Concerto (Christopher Rouse); Phantasmata (Christopher Rouse)
- 1999 - Plymouth-Canton Educational Park - Canton, Michigan
- Show Title: Thoughtcrime, Music for an Orwellian Era
- Musical Selections: Circuits (Cindy McTee); Lex from Metropolis Symphony (Michael Daugherty); Red Cape Tango from Metropolis Symphony (Michael Daugherty)
- 1998 - Lassiter High School - Marietta, Georgia
- Show Title: The Wind and the Lion
- Musical Selections: Music from The Wind and the Lion (Jerry Goldsmith)
- 1997 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- Show Title: Images of the Orient
- Musical Selections: Music from 'Heaven and Earth' by Kitaro; "Three Japanese Dances Mvt 1: Dance of Pennons" by Bernard Rogers; Music from 'Joy Luck Club' by Rachel Portman; "Three Japanese Dances Mvt 3: Dance of Swords" by Bernard Rogers
- 1996 - Lake Park High School - Roselle, Illinois
- 1995 - Center Grove High School - Greenwood, Indiana
- 1994 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- 1993 - Spring High School - Spring, Texas
- Show Title: The Music of Paul Hindemith
- Musical Selections: Symphony in Bb (Paul Hindemith); Symphonic Metamorphosis (Paul Hindemith)
- 1992 - "The Centerville Jazz Band" Centerville High School - Centerville, Ohio
- Show Title: Tower Of Power
- Musical Selections: So Very Hard To Go (Kupka & Castillo); Down to The Nightclub (Kupka, Castillo & Garibaldi); You're Still A Young Man (Kupka & Castillo); What Is Hip? (Kupka, Castillo & Garibaldi)
- 1991 - Plymouth-Canton Educational Park - Canton, Michigan
- Show Title: Sunday in the Park with George
- 1990 - Plymouth-Canton Educational Park - Canton, Michigan
- 1989 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- 1988 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- 1987 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- 1986 - Rocky Mount Senior High School - Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- 1985 - Marian High School - Chicago Heights, Illinois
- 1984 - Rocky Mount Senior High School - Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- 1983 - Rocky Mount Senior High School - Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- 1982 - Norwin High School - North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
- 1981 - Chesterton High School - Chesterton, Indiana
- Musical Selections: Verdi's Requiem, Night & Day, If you Believe (from the Wiz), Somewhere over the Rainbow
- 1980 - J. M. Tate High School - Gonzales, Florida
Summer National Championships
- 1989 - Christian Brothers Marching Band, Illinois
- 1988 - Marian High School, Illinois
- 1987 - Marian High School, Illinois
- 1986 - Marian High School, Illinois
- 1985 - Marian High School, Illinois
- 1984 - Marian High School, Illinois
- 1983 - University High School, Washington
- 1982 - Herscher High School, Herscher, Illinois
- 1981 - Independence High School, San Jose, California
- 1980 - James B. Conant High School, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
- 1979 - Sylva-Webster High School, Sylva, North Carolina
- 1978 - Live Oak High School Emerald Regime, Morgan Hill, California
- 1977 - Murray High School, Murray. Kentucky 
- 1976 - Live Oak High School Emerald Regime, Morgan Hill
Championships By School+
|Marian Catholic (IL)
||1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1997, 2000
||2005, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018
|Broken Arrow (OK)
||2006, 2011, 2015
||2008, 2009, 2010
||1990, 1991, 1999
|Rocky Mount (NC)
||1983, 1984, 1986
|Lawrence Central (IN)
|Live Oak H.S. (CA)
|Tarpon Springs (FL)
|The Woodlands (TX)
|L.D. Bell (TX)
|Lake Park (IL)
|Center Grove (IN)
|J.M. Tate (FL)
+excludes summer championships
Championships By State+
+excludes summer championships
- The most BOA Grand National Championships won by any school is seven by Marian Catholic High School of Chicago Heights, Illinois. The band program also holds a record 20 BOA National Class Championships and an unprecedented five BOA Summer National Championships.
- The longest consecutive and uninterrupted national championship streak is three years, held by Marian Catholic High School (1987, 1988, 1989), Avon High School (2008, 2009, 2010) and Carmel High School (2016, 2017, 2018). Rocky Mount High School of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, won in three consecutive appearances (1983, 1984, 1986).
- The longest consecutive and uninterrupted summer national championship streak was five years, held by Marian Catholic High School (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988).
- The longest streak of consecutive BOA Grand National Finals appearances currently stands at 34 years, held by Marian Catholic High School (1984-2017).
- The largest scoring gap between 1st and 2nd place at BOA Grand Nationals was 5.60 set in 1988 by Marian Catholic High School over Lake Park High School. The following year the two high schools set another record [at the time] for smallest scoring gap at .3 (Marian Catholic over Lake Park).
- Only twice in the history of the BOA Grand National Championships has a single band swept all of the performance captions (Outstanding Music, Visual, and General Effect) on Finals night. This was achieved by Carmel High School in 2017 and 2018.
- The highest score ever posted in a Bands of America Event was 97.85 by Hebron High School (Carrollton, TX) at the 2015 Grand National Championship Semi-Finals.
- The highest score at a BOA Regional Championship was by Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson High School (San Antonio, Texas) with a 96.625 at the 2017 Bands of America San Antonio, Texas Super Regional Championships.
- In the 2016 BOA Grand National Championship Finals, the first ever tie for 1st place occurred between Carmel High School and Avon High School with a score of 97.45. Carmel High School was named the champion after breaking the tie using the higher of the two bands overall general effect score of 58.50 for Carmel vs 58.20 for Avon.
- The smallest margin of points between 1st and 2nd place at Grand National Finals was 0.05 points, which occurred in 1990 (Plymouth-Canton Educational Park over Westfield High School (Texas)), 2001 (Lawrence Central High School over Carmel High School (Carmel, Indiana)), and 2003 (Westfield High School over Ronald Reagan High School (San Antonio, Texas)).
- The 2001 Grand Nationals presented the closest scoring gap between several groups, with 1st (Lawrence Central High School) and 5th Marian Catholic High School places separated by less than 0.95 points.
- The only two Grand Nationals "A-Class" Champions to place in the top five at Grand National Championship Finals are Danville High School of Danville, Kentucky in 1982 and Western High School of Russiaville, Indiana 1984.
- The only band ever to win at least one regional in the past five decades (70's-present) is Norwin High School (North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania) with 25 regional wins.
- The longest streak of winning consecutive BOA Regional Championships belongs to Ayala High School (Chino Hills, California). The "Ayala BAC" won 9 times from 2006-2015. They won the Flagstaff Regional in Arizona (2006) and the Southern California Regional (2007-2015). Note: No Southern California Regional was held in 2011, therefore the streak continued in 2012 with the reappearance of the Southern California Regional.
- 6 Class A (A-Class) bands to ever make the Grand National Championship Finals are Danville High School (Danville. Kentucky) in 1981 and 1982, Carroll High School (Dayton, Ohio) in 1983. Western High School (Russiaville, Indiana) in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990, Adair County High School (Columbia. Kentucky) in 1990, Jackson Academy (Jackson, Mississippi) in 1993, and Bellbrook High School (Bellbrook, Ohio) in 2000.