The band started rehearsing three days a week in late October 2005, and kept this schedule through the end of March. During that time, several clinicians came in to work with the band. Heeren felt it was going to be a tough year in competitions, as the state eliminated the class in which Aurelia had been competing, and they would have to compete with schools in a bigger class.
The band members worked hard, though, and earned a Division I rating at the Iowa High School Music Association Festival, 3rd place at the Iowa Lakes Community College Festival, 3rd overall and 2nd in NW Iowa at the Morningside Jazz Festival, 2nd place at the Harlan Jazz Festival, and the 5th place finish at Des Moines.
Heeren says the band's philosophy going to Des Moines was to "set a bar for next year." They didn't put any added pressure on themselves to finish in a certain place, just planned to "work hard and play our best and use it as a goal for next year." When they finished fifth, Heeren says, "we were very happy and proud of our accomplishments. Some of our kids have already been talking about what we should do to get better next year."
Heeren feels that he is very fortunate to have a good group of colleagues to "bounce ideas off of", to see how they can make their bands better. "After all," he says, "we are music educators, not trophy hunters. If we can make the kids feel good about what we are doing then we are doing our jobs."