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The Normal Community and Normal West High School Bands are the proud producers of the NORMAL MARCHING BAND!

The NORMAL MARCHING BAND continues the rich traditions of excellence previously established at Normal West and Normal Community High Schools. The group represents our schools, school district, and community on the local, regional, and national stages.

Since it was established in 2018, the NMB has been named Grand Champion at competitions hosted by the Illinois State Fair, Danville High School, Metamora Township High School, and the University of Central Missouri.  The group has earned multiple Division I Ratings at Bands of America Championships.  In 2021, the NMB was the Governor's Grand Champion at the Illinois Marching Band Championships (at the University of Illinois) and was selected to perform at the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.  In 2022 and 2023, the NMB was named the Class 6A Illinois State Marching Band Champions.  The band is the recipient of countless placement awards and caption awards that recognize outstanding musical performances, visual performances, and performance effectiveness across each section of the band.  The Normal Marching Band is honored to be a performer in the 2025 London New Year's Day Parade.

The NMB directors and staff are a 2023 recipient of the Illinois State Board of Education's Those Who Excel Award of Excellence, in the team category.  This is the highest honor for an instructional team as a part of the same program the selects the Illinois Teacher of the Year.  In addition to an outstanding staff, the NMB is supported by an exceptional team of parent volunteers and community supporters.

We are excited about the team-building, collaboration, and leadership opportunities available to students in this outstanding ensemble. Participating students develop self-discipline as well as musical and marching skills as a part of a high caliber band, drum line, front ensemble, and color guard.  We feel very strongly about the quality of the young adults that participate in our marching programs, and we are excited to invite you to participate! The experience will be one to remember for a lifetime!



Ryan Budzinski is the Director of Bands at Normal West High School.  He is a current graduate student at Illinois State University, and he received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Illinois Wesleyan University.  Mr. Budzinski has also studied at the VanderCook College of Music (Chicago, IL), the Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), Carleton College (Northfield, MN), and The Juilliard School (New York, NY).  He joined the Unit 5 Band Faculty in 2006.  Mr. Budzinski conducts the Normal West High School Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Winds, and  Concert Winds.  He is the director of the Normal West Jazz Orchestra and the head of instrumental jazz studies at Normal West.  Additionally, he teaches AP Music Theory and serves as the Normal West High School Music Department Building Chair.  Mr. Budzinski is co-director of the Normal Marching Band, and he has written drill for the Normal Marching Band, the Normal West High School Marching Band, the Normal Community High School Marching Band, the Olympia High School Marching Band, and the Hoopeston Area High School Marching Band.  Mr. Budzinski was selected by the Normal West High School student body as the recipient of the Teacher Honor Roll Award in the spring of 2008.  Mr. Budzinski has served as an adjudicator for the Illinois High School Association, the Illinois Music Education Association, the Illinois Elementary School Association, and the Illinois Grade School Music Association.  Previously, he was a volunteer at the Bands of America Summer Symposium, the student director of the Illinois Wesleyan University Titan Athletic Bands, and Drum Major of the Lincoln-Way Marching Band for their Illinois State University Grand Championship and appearance in the 111th Tournament of Roses Parade.  Mr. Budzinski is professionally affiliated with the Illinois Music Education Association.  He recently completed terms as the Illinois Music Education Association District 3 Band Co-Representative and as a member of the Music Advisory Committee for the Illinois High School Association.

Paul Carter joined Unit 5 in 2021 as the Director of Bands at Normal Community High School and a co-director of the Normal Marching Band. He received his Master’s of Music in Wind Band Conducting from the University of Illinois. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a focus in Bass Trombone. While attending Ithaca College, Mr. Carter participated in a variety of ensembles and musical opportunities including the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Trombone Troupe, Jazz Repertory Ensemble, various chamber groups, and many other ensembles. A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Carter attended North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA where he was a member of the 2011 USSBA Group 4 Open National Champion Marching Knights. While studying at Ithaca College, he was the Visual and Brass Captionhead for the Vestal High School Marching Band. After graduating from Ithaca College, he spent 3 years as the Middle School Band Director at Ray Middle School, Baldwinsville Central School District, near Syracuse, NY. While there he worked with the Baldwinsville High School Marching Bees as the Brass Captionhead as well as with the Plan Bee Pep Band and the Baldwinsville Indoor Drumline. During his time at Baldwinsville, the Marching Bees placed 4th and 2nd in the NYSFBC State Championship National Class. In January of 2020, the Baldwinsville Marching Bees participated in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA. While at the University of Illinois, Mr. Carter was the Mellophone and Saxophone section instructor for the Marching Illini as well as a conductor of the Basketball Pep Band for both Men’s and Women’s Big Ten Basketball games.

Lance Meadows retired from Normal Community High School in 2021 after 34 years of teaching, having served in Unit 5 for the last 32 of those years. He continues to support Unit 5 students in a number of ways, including filling the role of percussion coordinator for the NMB.  The Unit 5 Bands gratefully acknowledge Mr. Meadows's service to the students and families in the Unit 5 community, and we wish him the very best in his retirement!

Lisa Preston retired from Normal West High School in 2022, having been the founding director of bands since the school's opening day.  She continues to serve Unit 5 students through her work as the NMB's musical arranger and creative director, and with bands, chamber ensembles, and other student groups in Unit 5.  The Unit 5 Bands gratefully acknowledge Ms. Preston's service to the students and families in the Unit 5 community, and we wish her the very best in her retirement!


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