25. July 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

I just read an article that begins with this:

Many American marching band programs are already in full-swing or soon will be, preparing for their busy fall performance schedules. My last band camp was 2006 – there are definitely things I miss about being involved directly with a marching band program, but I am also thankful to be spared the preparation and hard work that goes along with running such a program, especially considering the current 100+ degree heat wave we are experieincing in the Northeast.

Here are 10 tips from my own experience with fighting the heat and maintaining students’ health and productivity during those long, hot hours of the traditional August band camp:

Nope, not gonna supply you with the 10. You have to go here to read it. And of course it’s really written for the band camp directors rather than students and parents, but stil you might want to take note, especially those living in Marching Band Territories! (For some states marching band is taken much more seriously than others.)

For me? Well, I’m not a participant in marching band at my age, and I have no children involved in it either. But it does mean one thing for me … I will now pretty much lose a few students until marching band season is over.

Sigh. I really hate that some band directors think marching band should trump all other music making. I really despise that it takes my students away from private lessons and, for many, means they will barely touch an oboe until football season ends.

It makes me somewhat grumpy, to be honest.

I wonder, sometimes, if I should just not accept the marching band students as regularly scheduled students and, instead, tell them they can schedule lessons on a week by week basis as they are able and as my schedule permits. That way I could have open slots for those that aren’t in marching band. Is that discriminatory? Probably. But sometimes discrimination can be a good thing can’t it? I am discriminating about my chocolate (milk only). I’m discriminating about my veggies (organic). I’m discriminating about husbands (only one).

Hmmm ….

My, but I sounded grumpy above. Please know I”m not just dissing and hating marching band. I did it (playing bell lyre) in high school. I loved the social aspect of it. I loved the football games (and the hot chocolate my mom would make and my dad would bring for us!). I just don’t like that the “rest of music” stops. That is all. 🙂


  1. Oh… trust me, you are far from being alone in terms of disliking (at least aspects of) marching band. I did MB for the first four years of my teaching career, and I vowed never to do it again (which is a trick, if you intend to teach band at the high school level). Besides the absence of “real music making” – there is also the fact that the school community can start treat the band program as if it’s only purpose is to be a support service to the athletics department. Furthermore, it encourages an over-emphasis on competition, and eats up an enormous amount of budget. Lastly, like any other school program – it can lure the glory-seeking director away from maintaining healthy marriages and family lives.

    Like you, I still have misgivings about dismissing MB entirely – it does have strong roots in Americana, and it can generate a lot of positive enthusiasm for school music programs. At the same time, I often find myself wondering what Sousa himself would have thought about how his legacy evolved.

  2. My high school band director managed to get marching band to count as PE, and we continued to have band the entire year. He _hated_ marching band and would have done away with it entirely if he could have. He was an “old school” band director. Lots of yelling, lots of making the girls cry … not terribly admirable in many ways. And yet we were probably the best band in the state at the time (way back in the 70s). Go figure. He taught me a lot about expression, and I sure learned a lot of opera overtures (granted, many of them in the wrong key!) because he mainly did transcriptions.

    But marching band … it does build community, and the crowds seem to love it. It’s just not so much about making great music. And I believe I lost another student due to the marching band season. 🙁