Monday, December 20, 2010

So You Want to Join the Marching Band?

Spacing in between marchers is
HUGE.  That could be the difference
between 1st or last place in a
competition (keep on reading).
They are coming down the street.  Now all of the old cars and old people throwing candy are out of the way, it's time for the parade show stopper!  60 of the high school's finest and most popular come perusing through the streets blasting your favorite tunes from Earth, Wind and Fire to Mozart.  The clouds part.  The sun shines a little brighter.  Birds start to chirp.  That's right ladies and gents, the marching band is coming to town!  We all know what is on everyone's mind: How can I join the marching band?  When can I have my moment of fame as the 2nd piccolo player fifing away on a sick solo?  Well, as an experienced marching band member myself, let me tell you: while the fame and fortune are fantastic, it sure isn't easy!  Let's start from square one into shaping yourself from a lazy high school "student" to a fine-tuned marching machine!

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Very funny.
"Band camp."  Doesn't look so fun,
does it?
First, there's band camp.  We all hear those jokes, "This one time at band camp."  Don't tell those jokes to your band friends.  Believe it or not, we've heard them all.  While for many band camp is a time of jollity and joke-telling, for those involved it is no laughing matter.  I remember waking up at the break of dawn in the summer thinking, "I don't know if I can handle another 8 hours of marching around in the hot, hot sun!"  But off I went in my car.  Boy, these are some grueling times - anywhere from 2-5 weeks in 8-12 hour shifts of marching, marching, marching!  If this doesn't turn a dedicated young man into a marching band hero, I don't know what will.  What is there to practice, you may ask?  You know all of those funny formations?  Those don't happen by chance!  They are painstakingly calculated by the band teacher for months on a top-end computer program.  Each "dot" on the program that moves about is assigned to a student, and the band learns their position for every 4 beats.  Sometimes we walk sideways.  Sometimes we walk straight.  Who knows what's coming up next!  It's the marching band!

The line on the left is a little crooked; you must
have straight lines for a perfect show.
So you survived band camp and those beastly summer parades.  Next step: football games.  It may be hard to avoid those cheerleaders who check you out the whole game, or having a loving audience tenderly crowd surf you over the edge of the bleachers.  There are many obstacles to focusing on playing your masterpieces and being the highlight of the show.  Good friend, it appears the opposing quarterback got sacked 82 years behind the line of scrimmage!  The audience screams, knowing that the marching band has got a special musical number up their sleeve for them.  Trumpets flare!  A one-hit wonder from Queen sounds throughout the stadium!  People dance!  Laughter of children and clapping along follows!  Huzzah!

An average high school band is anywhere from 60-120
people.  Anything larger is a logistical nightmare; this band
in all seriousness is very impressive how coordinated
 they are.
Now the fun is over.  Time to strap on those hats and plumes and head off to the big leagues: competitions.  You probably didn't know marching bands actually compete against each other, did you?  That's one of the major reasons of having these bands actually - back in the drum and corps days of the military they did these things all the time trying to outdo others showing their virtuosity.   Competitions are one of the most exciting times ever for a young marching band man.  You get four songs to play, and you have practiced them ten zillion times.  You are ready to rock.  You step out on the field, the speaker man announces your school and your name as a soloist in the upcoming song.  And off you go!  Be sure to step in time synchronized with everyone else!  There is a panel of judges watching your every move, docking you points like they're nothing. These people are ruthless!  Only the best of the best can come out on top.  The best part are announcing of the winners - maybe you won the best overall field show, best of the class, or even better - maybe you won the sweepstakes (the best overall in everything)!  That will sure put a little spring in your marching step for the next couple of months!

So you want to be in marching band?  I thought you would.  I have some links that can further educate you.  Enjoy! - create your own marching shows - watch for the jumping tuba player.  You know he's having a good time! - need to know ANYthing about marching band?  This will be sure to help you out.

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