NAMM SchoolJam USA

Some of the nation’s top teen bands include marching band students. NAMM’s SchoolJam USA competition rewards the best teen music group along with their school’s music program.

“NAMM believes that kids who study music in school do better in school and in life,” says Scott Robertson, NAMM’s director of marketing and communications.

Starting in August, bands submitted their songs online, and 48 bands moved onto the semi-fi nals stage, with 10 advancing to fi nals. Finalists performed during the NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 15 and were judged by a guest panel including Stan Freese, talent and booking director with Disney. The winner received a trip to Germany for the SchoolJam festival, $1,000 in cash and $5,000 for the school music program.

Some of the finalist groups include students that also participate in their school’s marching band. “Marching band and being in a concert or school band, you read music and learn skills you can bring into other music that you play,” says Brennon Trant, lead vocalist and drummer for the rock band Uprising from Raceland, La., and a trombone player in Central Lafourche High School Band.

Ska group Orpheus includes trumpet player Adam Fulwiler. “[Marching band] helped me by teaching me how to play as a team and not by yourself,” says Fulwiler, who marches at West De Pere (Wis.) High School. “You learn how to keep time and internalize the music and the beat.”

Although there are no marching groups in the final stages of the competition, Robertson encourages them to try out in the future. “While most of the bands are in the rock genre, the competition is about music making of all forms,” Robertson says.

“Actually one good way to differentiate from a field of similar competitors would be to do something entirely different.”