Marching band is underrated.
Football teams are great and all—they really do work hard—but the band is often forgotten. Every Tuesday and Thursday, from 5 PM to 8:30 PM for five months of the year, my high school marching band was rehearsing to put on the greatest halftime show that we could. Heat Week is a whole other story: a five-day stretch in the summer from 1 PM to 8:30 PM that was completely dedicated to learning fundamentals and the first few songs of our show. Believe it or not, learning the field sets and memorizing just the first few minutes of a 10-minute marching routine takes several rehearsals. Other schools have their own version of Heat Week (sometimes dubbed Hell Week) and the University of Minnesota even has what they call Spat Camp.
Deciding to join marching band changed my life forever. Actually, I didn’t really decide; rather, the band nerd that is my mother forced me into it. I wouldn’t say that I was popular in high school, but because of band I knew a lot of people in every grade and many people knew who I was. I discovered a new sense of responsibility and developed skills through this activity that I loved.
My section and I before the Senior Night football game
During the end of my eighth grade year, I told my then-band teacher that I was planning on skipping a year of music to get myself situated in the “high school life.” Of course, she knew that if I had actually gone through with skipping that year, I probably would never have gotten back into music.
Four years later, at my last high school football game, that same teacher watched me having the time of my life performing pep band songs for the student body. Afterwards, she came up to me and the only thing she said was, “Aren’t you glad you never quit?”
I sure am.
Photo courtesy of Doug Schnabel Photography
Without my life in music, I never would have had the opportunities that I did. I would have otherwise been the weird loner kid because this group of nerds helped me find my place in a really rough, puberty-hitting time in any teenager’s life.
Let me tell you all of the things I did as a Marching Royal:
1. Performed a halftime show at a Viking’s game (and was 10 feet away from a Chicago Brown Player as he adjusted his junk: it was so cool).
2. Traveled to Orlando, Florida, to perform in the parade at Disney World.
3. Performed a halftime show at Melbourne High School in Florida.
4. Performed pre-game pep band music at multiple Timberwolves games.
5. Flew to Hawaii to perform at the Waikiki Parade.
6. Played the National Anthem on the deck of the USS Missouri in Hawaii.
Finding the videos above really brought back some memories that I will cherish forever. I made my closest friendships and learned very important lessons through marching band. This week, celebrate the ones that gave you so much entertainment during your football games and performances, and appreciate all of the work they put in to make your entire experience worthwhile.
And to all you band nerds out there—keep marching forth this March 4 for National Marching Arts Day.