Some of the best high school marching bands in Ohio will perform Saturday, Sept. 21, at Hilliard Bradley High School, 2800 Walker Road.

Some of the best high school marching bands in Ohio will perform Saturday, Sept. 21, at Hilliard Bradley High School, 2800 Walker Road.

The 13th annual Hilliard Marching Band Invitational, one of several competitions the Ohio Music Education Association hosts as a qualifier for state contests beginning Nov. 2, steps off at 5 p.m.

Bradley High School has hosted the Hilliard Marching Band Invitational since the school opened in 2009.

"This will be our first competition of the season and there is always room to improve," said Mark Oppenheimer, director of bands at Bradley High School.

As of Sept. 6, 13 marching bands had registered for the invitational, he said.

"We usually average about 15 to 18 bands, so we are a couple short this year of what we are used to having," Oppenheimer said.

The Darby and Davidson high school marching bands are among those registered. They are in the largest division, Class AA; the divisions are based on student enrollment.

The marching bands from Dublin Jerome High School and Thomas Worthington High School also will compete in Class AA.

Participating Class A bands are expected to include Franklin Heights High School, Marietta High School and Teays Valley High School.

Class B bands will include London High School, Northeastern High School, Northwestern High School and Springfield Shawnee High School.

West Jefferson High School was the lone entry in Class C, the smallest division.

A team of judges will grade each marching band on a variety of standards, Oppenheimer said. Most judges are retired matching band directors, he said.

Each band will receive an individual rating based on its performance, and those scores are calculated in determining which bands qualify for the state OMEA tournament.

Bands must receive a "superior" rating to qualify.

"This invitational allows us to not only qualify for the tournament, but to practice for our weekly performances (at football games) and continue toward our goal of continuous improvement," Oppenheimer said.

An overall grand champion also is named, although Hilliard's three marching bands are not eligible to be ranked because they are the host school.

The rankings are not used in determining qualification for the state tournament but are an opportunity to earn accolades for quality performances.

In addition to showcasing marching band talent, the invitational is a boon for the Hilliard school district's music program.

The band invitational is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Hilliard Music Boosters.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students. They will be available at the Bradley sports complex.