Marching Band Rocks!


Caroline Krofcheck, Staff Writer

Saturday, October, 15 was the final regular season PIMBA event. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Marching Band Association was founded in 1996. There were seventeen founding bands. PIMBA was established to “provide a philosophical and organizational structure for marching band field competitive events in South Western Pennsylvania”. 

During this 27th season, six qualifying events took place. September 10th at Kiski High School, September 17th at Baldwin High School, September 24th at Yough Senior High School, October 1st at Moon High School, October 8th at Deer Lakes High School, and October 15th at Gateway High School. The Upper Saint Clair High School Marching Band participated in the September 17th and October 15th events. 


“It’s been a long day of great music, a terrific turnout,” said Cindy from Mars, PA. The event began at 4:30 and was completed after 9 pm. People sat in the stadium during the cold evening cheering on students from twelve high schools. The day was divided into three sections, four bands performed in each section followed by two intermissions and then each band had a critique section at the end of the day. The Upper Saint Clair High School Marching Band performed at 8 pm, the second to last of the evening, followed by the concluding performance from the Gateway High School Band. 


The bands are divided into classes, grouped by the number of members. Class A is 1-54, class AA 55-74, class AAA 75-99, and class AAAA 100+. In recent years PIMBA has changed the definition of the class to include every band member: musicians, color guard, auxiliary, and drum majors. Mary from Baldwin was enjoying her night, “The kids work so hard, I love seeing them perform.” The top bands in each class move on to the PIMBA Championships held at Norwin High School on October 22. 


PIMBA has a very serious code of ethics for its directors, staff, and students. Everyone must conduct themselves in a professional manner. They encourage courtesy, cooperation, and good sportsmanship. It is stressed that all members are a “visible representative of their band, school, and community whether in or out of uniform”.

The stands were full, everyone was cheering and calling out to their bands. Most bands have a prop; there are regulations on size, height, and boundaries for the prop. No pyrotechnics, balloons, or live animals are allowed. John from Moon said, “I really love my daughter’s squad’s prop, shooting stars.” 


The PIMBA festival has at least seven box judges and two field judges. Five judges are critiquing ensemble music and visuals. Two judges are critiquing the music effect and the visual effect. There is also a digital audio judge and a field operations coordinator, plus a timing and penalty monitor. Judging begins immediately following the announcement of the band. Judging of music begins with the first note played. The band has thirty seconds to begin after their announcement or incur a penalty. The entire performance is a 100% student activity, adult interference is a penalty. There are boundaries, and infractions of these incur penalties. Only students in full uniform can move or manage equipment. 


Bands perform in fifteen-minute intervals, delays result in penalties. The performance must be between seven and ten minutes. The band’s entrance and exits are judged and timed. After the performance, the bands have two minutes to exit the field. No one is penalized for dropping props of instruments unless they cross boundaries to retrieve them. 


The rules at PIMBA Gateway include watching your step and doing your best. This was the Upper Saint Clair Marching Band’s second performance at PIMBA this season. They didn’t win their division, coming in second. They did improve their overall score by ten points. Gary from Monroeville was impressed with the bands, “It’s fun that Gateway gets to host such a great night. Gateway didn’t win, but like all the bands they can’t wait for next year.”