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Why Your Teen Should Join Marching Band

Apr09

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I never had any illusions that my kids were going to be “cool” or “popular;” I’ve met their parents, and… yeah, the deck was stacked against them from the beginning. Plus I’m a firm believer in the notion of doing what you love, surrounding yourself with a few trusted compadres, and not worrying about the rest of it. This means I shouldn’t have been surprised when marching band first took over our lives and brought along so many fantastic benefits, but I never claimed to be all that swift on the uptake.

If you’re hesitating—or if your teenager is hesitating—don’t. Trust me, marching band is not just the dorky kids in terrible uniforms. I mean, yes, it is dorky kids in terrible uniforms, but it is also so much more than that, and it’s wonderful. (Plus, hey, it turns out many of those dorky kids are hilarious, and/or brilliant, and/or they transform into self-assured young adults over time. And I am not just saying that because I adore my own geeklings; it’s totally true.) Let me take you through the magic that is high school marching band.

The uniforms are terrible. As already acknowledged, no one on the planet looks good in a marching uniform. This is not a bad thing. While the cheerleaders are making sure their high ponytails are just so, the girls in the band are simply stuffing their hair into their shakos (yes, the dorky hats have a special name) and forgetting about it. You know who looks stupid in a marching band uniform? That awkward, pimply kid who snorts when he laughs. You know who else looks stupid in a marching band uniform? The drum-playing Ashton Kutcher lookalike all the girls are giggling over. Everyone. Stupid uniforms are the great unifier. The playing field is completely level (pun intended) for the band kids on the fraught topic of looks, and this can be a real relief for kids who are constantly worrying if they measure up.

Those terrible uniforms are dry-clean only. In the recent past I’ve have two different friends with sports-playing teens send me pictures of giant mountains of laundry and encroaching piles of smelly pads and other equipment, lamenting the stench and work that is being a sports parent. We have none of that. The uniforms get sent out for cleaning, and for most of the season here in the south, the kids are wearing as little as possible under said uniforms, because it’s a bazillion degrees outside. No laundry monsters for us! (Just, uh, resist the urge to sniff their marching shoes. You’re welcome. Sprinkle some baking soda in them periodically and stay back.)

Marching band directors are saints among us. Any high school that has a marching band worth its salt is run by a band director anchored by four guiding principles:
1) A love of music.
2) A love of teenagers.
3) Expectation of complete dedication.
4) Zero tolerance for shenanigans.

I know this is true in our band, and in talking with other band families, we’ve all concluded it’s universally true, because there is no other way a high school music teacher can turn a hundred-odd hormone-addled adolescents into a well-oiled production machine. The marching band director will push your child to excellence in a way that settles for nothing less, but somehow he’ll do it in a way that your kid will love. (Don’t ask me how. I can’t even get this kid to pick up her socks off the floor, so clearly the band director possesses superpowers.) The work that gets done on the field is amazing enough, but it doesn’t end there—this extra set of watchful eyes brooks no transgressions elsewhere, either. There is a code of conduct and it is taken very seriously. Which leads us to…

Band kids are the best kids, period. In a lifetime of observing different groups and activities where teens congregate, I can say without reservation that the marching band is absolutely the least homogenous, in the sense that there are kids from every part of the school and all different circumstances. Other activities tend to bring like kids together, and somehow band is different. This will put your kid with some kids they’d never meet, otherwise. But the way in which they’re all alike is that they’re all really good kids. They work hard in school, they work hard in band, and remember how the director doesn’t tolerate shenanigans? They meet that code of conduct or they disappear. That’s it. There’s no nudge-nudge-wink-wink or “I didn’t see that” in band culture the way there is in some team sports. The kids are expected to be awesome at all times. As a result, most of the kids are awesome at all times. No, they don’t stop being teenagers, but there is a family atmosphere and acceptance of all among the band kids that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. It’s a safe place, and I don’t know about your teen, but for my teen, that’s been a godsend.

Musicians do better at everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but the benefits of music education are well-documented. Being in marching band gives your teen everything from a leg up on the SATs to a decreased chance of using drugs. Trust me, band kids don’t have time for any of that, anyway. Ever heard the saying that a busy teenager is a happy teenager? Band kids are busy.

Marching band is great exercise for the exercise-averse. We’re not a family of obese couch potatoes, but neither are we particularly sporty and outdoorsy. I don’t know if you know this, but marching around in 100+ degree weather is really, really hard. It requires a great deal of physical stamina, and it’s often requiring it of kids who would rather chew off their own arms than run laps. Know what’s awesome? The fact that they’re concentrating on their music totally distracts those kids from the fact that they’re getting a workout.

The marching band usually gets to go on awesome trips. Sure, other teams get to travel, too, but our band has gone to some amazing places and events, and then they’re there with this take-no-crap band director and a group of good kids, which means peace of mind.

Two words: Band Camp. The greatness that is the periodic, dead-serious interjection of, “This one time? At Band Camp?” into everyday conversation cannot be overstated. Or maybe that’s just our family, but really, it never stops being funny.

About the author

Mir Kamin

http://wouldashoulda.com/
Mir Kamin began writing about her life online nearly a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she's become one of those people who talks to her dog in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she's continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she's bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.


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156 Responses to “Why Your Teen Should Join Marching Band”

  1. April U Apr 09 at 8:35 pm Reply Reply

    Yes! All of that. :) Similar things can be said for swing/show choir too.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Apr 09 at 8:40 pm Reply Reply

      high five!

      • Mir Kamin
        Mir Kamin Apr 09 at 8:56 pm Reply Reply

        HA totally, though I think the popularity of Glee has kind of made show choir retro-cool. 

        • Isabel Kallman
          Isabel Apr 09 at 9:06 pm Reply Reply

          helloooooo, Pitch Perfect!?! and of course, Straight No Chaser (but, of course I’m totally– and justifiably– biased on that one).

  2. nora Apr 09 at 9:37 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks! As a band director and mom, I agree. I can’t figure out a place other than a HS music class where your kid, or mine, would be better cared for and valued. In 4 years of high school it will be my best investment in my child.

  3. Jenny Apr 09 at 10:18 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a band director (and a mom) and this article just made my day. Thank you.

  4. Sabrina Apr 09 at 11:41 pm Reply Reply

    I was in marching band in high school and LOVED it.  I also went to band camp.  I will say that plenty of cool kids were also in band (there were over 180 people in our marching band) because we took cool trips– my Senior year we went to IRELAND and the only way you got to do the cool stuff was to suffer through the freezing cold football games.  Oh, and also our school mascot was a Scottish dude and our uniforms were real kilts and such and so the school had them cleaned (I’m sure we paid a fee).  Yay band!

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 10 at 7:24 am Reply Reply

      Yeah, that was part of what I was getting at with the diversity thing… our band has “cool kids,” too, but it’s the only place I see an absence of clique rule, which I love. :)

      • Tim Keegan Apr 10 at 12:04 pm Reply Reply

        Get your kids involved in drum corps too! even better than marching band, higher performance level and EVERYONE looks good in a drum corps uniform :)

        • Ashley Apr 12 at 4:13 pm Reply Reply

          Drum Corps is one of the best activities out there.  And of course they look good in a drum corps uniform.  They’re tan, fit, and lean!

        • Mina Apr 12 at 6:28 pm Reply Reply

          YES! Drum Corps is the absolute BEST, and it carries on that awesome sense of self responsibility long after high school and into college! Plus, the uniforms are DANG sexy.

  5. Jen Merrill Apr 10 at 10:03 am Reply Reply

    My dear sweet Mir, I love you for this post. Well, for a lot of your posts, but this one…you nailed it. My husband and I are both band geeks for life (both former band directors; we used up our sainthood abilities early), and it breaks our hearts that neither boy wants to be in band. WE know the awesome benefits, but they…sniff…
    I’m going to share the heck out of this post, and send it to AMP (Association of Music Parents); they’ll love it. :D

    • AJ Apr 12 at 2:31 am Reply Reply

      I’m going to be in my last year of marching band next year, and my friend was in a drum core…uniforms still looked terrible. And you’re wrong about the not noticing the workout as we can all feel it very acutely. Our uniform is 99% wool and is about 2mm thick. The easiest way to tell we’re getting a workout is when you’re short of breath about 2 minutes into a parade and it’s already hurting to keep your euphonium held up. I still feel sorry for those who play the susaphone, but at least it’s on your shoulder. Oh well, enough of my rant, for now. In marching band, we are like a big family and the coolest part is that once you join the MB, YOU SUDDENLY HAVE MULTIPLE MOMS! But we all get up to shenanigans at some point. The thing I miss from our marching band is the push-ups. Our current band director says “No push-ups because it will get people to not want to be in marching band.” WHAT!!! I completely disagree! The push-ups was incentive to do BETTER. The punishment laps were incentive to do BETTER! But noooo…we now have “team-building ” exercises where we have to run around the track IN STEP! like, COME ON! theres only two of us in my section, and my partner is, I’m going on a guess here, about 4’9″. And I’m 6’1″! how are we realistically going to be able run in step? IT”S IMPOSSIBLE! Marching, sure, but running! No. Not going to happen. I’ve almost quit for that alone. besides, how is that “team building” in any way? Sorry for the rant guys, I’m REALLY haven’t been liking the past couple of years of MB. Back to Band Moms, shenanigans, and stuff like that. We play pranks on each other, like hiding mouthpieces during break and making them look around for it then put it back at the last second (while they’re not looking) so that they think they’re blind or something. Or just give it back so they can play. the best time to confuse them is to take the susaphone players mouthpiece WHILE HE STILL HAS IT ON. It’s really funny, the kinds of reactions you can get. And then there are the awesome shindigs we have after good competition performances and stuff. Really fun! Ok, I think I’ve typed long enough, Bye Guys!

  6. js Apr 10 at 10:22 am Reply Reply

    YAY! More you! I love reading your blog and I can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us on alphamom. We’re entering the Middle School universe now but this is in my “Good to Know” file for the future. There are so many more topics I am interested in hearing about from you, like how you handle discipline with a blended family. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  7. Liz Apr 10 at 10:25 am Reply Reply

    Great to see you contributing here! My husband and I met at band camp (in college! super band nerds, we were/are), and I do hope to get to be a band parent one day, for all the reasons you suggest here.

  8. kakaty Apr 10 at 10:31 am Reply Reply

    A 4-year band geek here and I agree with everything you say except the band director part. Our director was a raving lunatic and complete jerk, yet I loved it anyway because all of my best friends were in band. We were a “show band” and went to marching competitions all over the place and got to march at Disney World twice. Our local hs band just got back from a spring break trip to Turkey (2 years ago it was Switzerland)! 

    One other thing, we moved to the town were I went to hs about 2 months before my freshman year. Band was a saving grace because by the time I got done with band camp, and the “2 a day” rehearsals in the summer I knew 200 kids my first day of school. Made that first day as a freshman in a brand new town so much easier! 

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 10 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

      Oh NO, that’s unfortunate. :( I have to believe your director was the exception to the rule.

      • Kim Apr 10 at 4:44 pm Reply Reply

        While our director was talented enough to bring the very best out of our young people, she was also a bit nutty. As the years went by, she became intolerable and harsh, and the hs band has shrunk dramatically in size because of her.

        That being said, I loved my daughters being in the hs band, and they loved it as well. The band kids were a diverse lot who were absolutely delightful. I signed on as a chaperone, much to my daughter’s chagrin. I was so grateful to be able to travel with the kids and watch them perform. 

        They never got the acclaim the sports teams did, and that’s ok. Their esprit de corps was great, friendships deep, and ability to be funny and laugh at themselves was priceless. I’ll take that any day!

        Thanks for this. You are spot on!

  9. magpie Apr 10 at 10:40 am Reply Reply

    i have fond memories of marching band – though some of them are definitely of the shenanigans variety. like when the drum section used to switch to 5/4 – which is kind of hard to march to. and when we used to cheer: hit ‘em in the nose / hit ‘em in the head / we want blood / red red red.  yup, good times.

    also, that feather duster on the top of the head? it’s called a panache.

    • Justin Apr 10 at 11:05 am Reply Reply

      This is a great comment. Your “shenanigans” are wonderful. If that was the worst of them I’m betting most parents would be fully behind the troublemaking.

      • Amy Apr 15 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

        Our band had a cheer that went “kill, kill, blood makes the grass grow… hemoglobin, hemoglobin, we want blood”. So yeah, band shenanigans. 

  10. Patricia Apr 10 at 10:51 am Reply Reply

    I am waiting for the first spawn to get old enough! This just reconfirms that my instincts are correct. Go Marching Band! (I was a yearbook nerd myself).

  11. RuthWells Apr 10 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    Congrats on the new gig, Mir!

  12. Jeff NIckerson Apr 10 at 11:53 am Reply Reply

    I enjoyed reading your article. I have two children that are involved in marching band programs. Would you be apposed if I printed this article to share with my school district. We are facing budget cuts in these difficult financial times and the Music program is always on the chopping block.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Apr 10 at 1:06 pm Reply Reply

      Hi Jeff, Not opposed to you reprinting this article and physically distributing it if there’s appropriate attribution (author name & website info) and it’s for non-commercial/educational purposes (sorry, I need to be clear). Also, it’s needs to be clear in your distribution with a small paragraph that it cannot be republished including digitally, etc. If you want to share digitally, please use this link: http://alphamom.com/parenting/big-kid/why-your-teen-should-join-school-marching-band/

      Happy to hear that you found Mir’s post helpful. She’s a thoughtful one!

  13. Jason Apr 10 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    I HATE it at the beginning.  But once you get past the stereotypes (which are not always true) and the uniforms…once you have scared any self conscious child away from the activity, you get into some good stuff.

    Sure, within the activity we acknowledge a lot of that about not being cool, being dorky, etc.  But a lot of it is “inside joke” material. But, if we are trying to recruit why put it out there like that? Anyways, all depends on the school. I’ve got some “cool” kids in my band program, and I would argue that our kids look as good in their uniforms as an athlete looks in his/her uniform (I said “good”, maybe not “sexy” or “muscular” but is that the image we are going for?).

    • Jason Apr 10 at 12:06 pm Reply Reply

      I would LOVE to share the 2nd half of this article with my band students, families, and the greater community.  I would also love to share it with families of students I am trying to recruit into the high school band program.  Unfortunately, I REFUSE to advertise the 1st half of this article with anyone.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 10 at 1:05 pm Reply Reply

      Jason, you’re obviously entitled to your opinion, and I guess I’m glad the second part of the piece worked for you. As for the first section, it’s a pretty standard humor device to embrace objections as somewhat-truths, have a laugh, and then turn ‘em on their heads. The main point is that even the supposed negatives have upsides.

      FWIW, my kids (and most of their friends) proudly refer to themselves as nerds and I don’t see this as a bad thing!

      • Jason Apr 10 at 6:56 pm Reply Reply

        That’s fine, but no need for name calling. Just saying “Band geek” once or twice would have been fine, but I think it was overboard. My band of 30 has 20 kids who participate in one sport or another throughout the year. As the high school band director, I am also a high school boys volleyball coach. I always referred to myself as a band-jock…but whatever. Bottom line, I think the negatives went overboard. Anyone who is already in the activity will not be bothered by them. It is a quick way to turn away an easily impressionable teenage from the activity, though. I’m already trying to convince them to be in band instead of playing soccer or football…I’m not going to put anything out there that refers to the band negatively, even if it is a way of humor and trying to engage the audience.

        • Anna Apr 11 at 3:26 am Reply Reply

          Yes, but the article is aimed at parents, not teenagers. Mir is trying to make the point that you should encourage your kids to be in band, because it’s such an awesome activity, all-around. For kids who self-identify as geeks, then it’s totally fine to laugh about it, for kids who don’t, just don’t emphasize that part of it. But, yeah, even though my HS band was full of both geeks and super popular jocks (and everyone in between), none of us had any qualms about acknowledging the perceived “geekiness” of our club.
          Oh, and Mir, I loved this piece, because I loved band (first oboe here! – now that’s a geeky instrument!) I feel like you really hit the nail on the head with your observations. Definitely hope my little one will be into music when he’s old enough!

        • Cheetos May 22 at 4:11 pm Reply Reply

          Jason,
          I was linked here from my band director (I’m in high school) and I seriously doubt anyone from my school considering band as an option would have gotten to this page.  I personally appreciate the “band nerd” thing, because that’s who I am.  When someone calls me a band nerd, I always ask them why they consider that to be a bad thing. 

  14. Nelson's Mama Apr 10 at 12:13 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a former band geek and now my youngest is marching her way through high school. :)  

    Will say her experience is much more structured than mine though, what with leadership council, required private lessons, band fees – and those uniforms?  They aren’t EVEN allowed to come home, required shirts and shorts to wear UNDER them….think my kid is in the military :)

  15. JOhn Apr 10 at 1:16 pm Reply Reply

    As an aged-out band parent–we went through ten years with three daughters–we really miss it, and things have changed too much with the band we were with to work on an “emeritus” basis.

    But that said, our director was, to put it kindly, a tyrant. We parents would often flinch when we overheard some of what was being said to the kids. But the kids were the biggest supporters of the man. And speaking of overhearing….on one band trip I heard one of our kids (and probably one of our, well, most likely to get in trouble) say, “Look at the way those kids are acting. Don’t they realize they’re representing their school?” YESSSSSS! Love it when they buy into the program.

    There’s one more benefit that wasn’t mentioned, however, and that
    s for parents. We had so much fun with the kids and other parents, whether we were uniform moms or pit crew or the “feed the band” gang. We know that we have BFFs, both the kids and their parents. Yeah, I’d do it again.

    BTW, don’t tell our uniform moms that the uniforms don’t look good.

  16. Katie Apr 10 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    I was in band starting in fourth grade and stayed with it for 5 football seasons in college…we never went anywhere exotic in all those years, but we had paid trips to Disneyworld (HS and college) I went to every single college football game, and I went to 4 major bowl games and was paid a per diem to do it! Bourbon street on New Years Eve with my band friends plus who knows how many other fans? Can’t get much better than that!!!

  17. Laura Apr 10 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    YAY! So glad you wrote this. As a former band geek (orc-dork, pick your poison), I can say those years were some of those most fun. It’s challenging and rewarding. Yes it’s hot and gross but the trips, the friends, and playing some fun music make it totally worth it. There’s a great feeling you have when standing on the 50 yard line blasting “Mars” by Holst out of your horn. It’s a GOOD feeling! I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

  18. Barbara Apr 10 at 1:32 pm Reply Reply

    Band geeks rule! Our marching band was the talk of the town for years, we travelled the world & had amazing times. It really takes a village, though – literally. The whole town shelled out for fund raisers year-round.

  19. Selfish Mom Apr 10 at 3:26 pm Reply Reply

    I really really love this post. And yes, my son is in the marching band. :-D

  20. Kristen Apr 10 at 3:48 pm Reply Reply

    I was a band geek a million years ago and agree with most of this. I was in the best shape of my life when I was in marching band (sadly) and had the best arms you can imagine. And we got to go to Orlando to march in the Rose Bowl parade. A lot of the friends that I made in high school marching band are still friends today. Unfortunately, my daughter is much more sports-oriented where there is so much more individual competition.

    • Julianne Apr 10 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

      You may have been lost. The Rose Bowl parade is in Pasadena, CA. Maybe you went to Disney Land. While you were there – confusing it with Orlando.
      I love my 2 band geeks. The band kids are the best, and like someone mentioned above, by first day of school Freshman year, you know 200 kids.

  21. The Deez Apr 10 at 5:31 pm Reply Reply

    The ONE thing that I’m sad my kids will miss out on because of being homeschooled is the fact that they won’t be in marching band. I was a band dork from sixth grade on and it was awesome!

    • Ashley Apr 12 at 4:21 pm Reply Reply

      Can your kids join your public school’s band program?  One of my band-friends in high school was actually home-schooled and came just for rehearsals.

  22. Elle Apr 10 at 5:34 pm Reply Reply

    YES! My husband and I met in our high school marching band! Looking back at pictures, I’m still impressed he thought I was cute in that uniform. ;)

    We’re already planning on our (as-of-yet non-existent) children carrying on the family marching band geek tradition. I’d love to see a future post with any words of wisdom on how to subtly (but successfully) nudge young kids down a path that leads to the high school marching band holy land.

  23. Lansing Dimon Apr 10 at 5:35 pm Reply Reply

    Great article!  Thanks – sharing!  As a band director, I’ll also point out some other activities aligned with marching band that are similar, some of which are school related and others that aren’t.  To me, any school that has choir, orchestra, and a drama/musical club affords similar benefits.  It’s everything you said, PLUS, as I mention to my students and parents… it’s putting a value on a quality work ethic – something that is missing from much of the world now where we google, text, facebook and twitter through our daily lives for information.  Developing a work ethic is a critical part of what marching band and academic arts is about. 

    There are also community groups that are similar in nature.  Drum and Bugle Corps, Indoor Drumlines, and Winterguard are great independent groups that emerged from scouting groups and other local organizations that are not-for-profit educationa institutions dedicated to the marching activity on a greater level and are not school specific.  Many groups have members that hail from many states and even abroad, creating a great social interaction experience.  

    I will say this though… there ARE uniforms that aren’t dry clean only!  It depends on the vendor!

    Thanks’ again for a great article!

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 10 at 8:11 pm Reply Reply

      My daughter indignantly informed me that the new uniforms (that they’re getting this summer) are machine washable, so I stand corrected! But the Boosters say the kids still will not be handling their own uniforms for cleaning, so woohoo either way. ;)

  24. Andy Apr 10 at 5:37 pm Reply Reply

    Incredible article!!  I completely agree and will take it a step further.  I participated in high school and college marching band, and have, for the better part of the last 20 years been neck-deep in senior/”all-age” drum & bugle corps, and can say that the atmosphere, dedication to excellence and love of the marching musical activity does not end when you walk across a stage and receive a diploma.  I’ve spent the last several years living, believing and encouraging people to continue in the marching activity if they have the opportunity.  It’s not just for the young!  Keep playing, keep marching and keep those great times alive!

  25. Rachel Apr 10 at 6:08 pm Reply Reply

    As a former marching band geek, I love this article! In my school, many of the band kids also tended to be the ones in the AP classes and graduating in the top 10%. We didn’t get to take too many cool trips though. :(

  26. diane Apr 10 at 6:31 pm Reply Reply

    Geeks unite!! I would never have made it through high school without band. There was a special friendship formed, and those folks are among the few from my high school I remember fondly and still consider friends.
    Look, we all went to Daytona Beach at age SIXTEEN to participate in the Disney main street parade (sidebar: ON A BUS–god, I could NOT do that now. Bless those chaperones) and I don’t remember a single one of us getting into any trouble. We just…had fun together, ya know? In silly, legal ways.
    There was a huge band alumni reunion last fall to celebrate my band director’s retirement (I’ve been out of high school 20 years mind you). THAT’S how much he meant to all of us. A saint indeed.

  27. Eric Maher Apr 10 at 7:24 pm Reply Reply

    I am eternally grateful for marching band. When I arrived at college, we went to a week of “band camp” before regular classes started, and after that one week, I basically had 250 friends. That was decades ago, and I still talk to many of them. I still miss creating music in a group.

    • Sue Buchanan Apr 18 at 12:02 am Reply Reply

      Eric, there are opportunities for adults, too! I was in marching band in grade & HS, concert band for 2 years in college. We have moved 9 times, and I’ve been in 7 community bands (founding member of 3) plus church groups and pit orchestras. I have played in community bands for much of 40 years now. Haven’t marched again, but have played on parade floats & in lots of concerts.The benefits of music – remembering all the stuff that came so easily in HS, meeting more people of other generations and suburbs, keeping active – applies to adults too!

  28. Debbie Apr 10 at 7:25 pm Reply Reply

    Our marching band has uniforms that are washable. They get washed by the washer moms after every single wearing. I can’t imagine not washing often. They get so smelly! And that exercise? My son lost 20 lbs his first season of marching band! My second son did the same when he joined as well.

  29. Fozzie Apr 10 at 8:12 pm Reply Reply

    In honor of your blog post, I’ve used my high school marching band knickname. It was given to me by a friend and I embraced it proudly. It’s still scrawled on the inside of my trombone locker in the band room after 25 years. I can’t agree with you enough. I do although want to add one other bonus and that’s college. College can be a very scary time for students, and parents, but when you show up at band camp your freshman year of college and meet the other 75 FRESHMAN on day one, and then the other 200+ members a few days later, you can’t help but make friends and feel welcomed. To this day, some of my best friends are from my days in band in college. And you want to talk about trips? How about bowl games and basketball tournaments! We actually hosted a DCI competition one year. And while like the kids on Glee, there was some tormenting in high school by the “cool kids,” in college, you ARE the cool ones.

  30. Julie Apr 10 at 8:15 pm Reply Reply

    As a former band geek, and mom to 3 Bandos as we call them now, you are spot on! My sons have graduated and gone on to college but there band friends are near and dear to their hearts! The only “real” friends from HS that I still keep in contact with are my band buddies! This made my day! Bandos RULE!!!and we do go great paces. Out band is going to Disney in a few weeks to march down Main St. How awesome is that!

  31. Sheila Apr 10 at 8:31 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter’s first overnight camp experience will be Music Camp, this June. She is in choir, but there’s a band contingent there as well. I would love to regale her with stories of “This one time? At Band Camp?” but she has not seen the movie and besides, this post outlines perfectly why I am not concerned at all about any funny business happening. These kids are smart, goofy, kind (usually all three) and I know they will arrive to camp focused and be kept on track by their excellent instructors. Viva la musica!

  32. Brett Fortnam Apr 10 at 8:38 pm Reply Reply

    As a bandmember throughout high school and college, everything here is true except the part about shenanigans. Some directors may not tolerate it, but that just means we get better at not getting caught. The amount of *nudge nudge wink wink* is just as high on the field as it is in the dugout (I’ve spent a lot of time there too). That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s one of the reasons I have enjoyed my band career. All of the *nudge nudge wink wink* happens with my closest friends who are pulling the same shenanigans when the director isn’t looking.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 10 at 8:49 pm Reply Reply

      Oh, sure. I meant the director wouldn’t be forgiving (seems like there’s way too many “well the coach knew about it but turned a blind eye” kinds of stories in the news lately) if something was seriously going wrong. Of course kids are going to get up to stuff now and then.

  33. Gloria Apr 10 at 8:46 pm Reply Reply

    My daughters were all in band from the 5th grade on up to marching band in high school, plus nephews, nieces, and close friends kids. I was a band parent for ten years and the was the most awesome times we had together as a family because where they went, we went whether it was for football, competitions, etc. It was a great and most memorable time of me and my kids lifes.

  34. Erik Apr 10 at 8:52 pm Reply Reply

    At my 20 year H.S. reunion. There was one group who seemed the tightest. They got up and called “everyone from band, (Stragglers) lets take a photo!!” Wow. These adults were clearly the least inhibited and joyous bunch of all of us. Our band, (marching) sustained a struggling football team and went from 80 to 300 in my 4 years in H.S. They’re a crazy marching/dancing bunch that the community rallied behind because they were unorthodox in their performance. Reedley High School Pirate Marching Band.

  35. Tonya Apr 10 at 9:06 pm Reply Reply

    I shared this with my teenagers band director. I find t to be true and on point with marching band.

  36. Michele Apr 10 at 9:12 pm Reply Reply

    I was both in the color guard AND the marching band. Tall flags, sabres, and the section leader of the pit percussion. That means that I can twirl a flag, toss a sword, play the drums, play the marimba. (You don’t want to compete against me on Rock Band. I’m just sayin’.) If I hear the sound of some marches from afar or in a parade? The hairs go up on my arms, and there’s an instinct to march in time.

    And did I mention 4 years of band camp?

    In all seriousness, I sincerely and truly believe the marching band may have saved me in high school. I was a misfit, and with them I had a tribe. With my childhood and family, it might not be a stretch to say that marching band saved my life.

  37. Becky Apr 10 at 9:18 pm Reply Reply

    Proud band geek here! I was in drum corps too (go Jersey Surf!!). Getting through high school would have been SO much harder without band. I also had the privilege of teaching marching band while I was in college. I can only hope that I gave those kids some of the experience that I had. And for added fun, we’re actually having a reunion of my high school marching band this summer…15 years worth of middle aged former band geeks in one room. I have a feeling there will be shenanigans afoot *wink wink

  38. Jan Apr 10 at 9:18 pm Reply Reply

    Agree with all except canonizing the band directors – coming from Indiana – where they take their marching bands serious to the extreme, like competitions every weekend in the fall – many of the band directors seem to forget that technically band is just another class – albeit one that takes more hours a week than the rest combined – and most of these kids will not be music majors; the rest of the piece is very accurate; our son got involved in his university band where it became fun again – main purpose to entertain at football games and pep band for BBall – and it still had a bunch of good kids – carryover from HS.

  39. Celeste Apr 10 at 10:13 pm Reply Reply

    Mir, I’m tearing up a little here. I am from such a small town, we didn’t have football or marching band. I wasn’t at all prepared for my kid being in marching band. I didn’t think he’d make it the first year, 100 pounds of boy hauling around 30 or 40 pounds of sousaphone. But he loved it, made some great friends, and I was thrilled. It’s a joy to watch the kids out there, whether they’re marching or just dancing on the sidelines while they wait to perform. Now he’s about to graduate and he’s going to college to be…. a high school band director.

  40. Julie Apr 10 at 11:10 pm Reply Reply

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!! What most people don’t know about bands are the hard work and dedication of its director, and that shows in EVERY member. The pride of a halftime show, after the long hours of 3 a days a band camp, or a “1” at a competition. There is no feeling like it.

  41. myspecialtyisclarineting Apr 10 at 11:11 pm Reply Reply

    Hi! I came across this post via a link on tumblr (posted by a marching band blog), and since I’ve taken the time to read it, I figured I’d respond. First off, I’d like to clarify that I’m not from the South (as I infer you are based on references made in this post), but from the West, so my experience with marching band may be drastically different than yours. Second, I’d like to say that although there are some points I disagree with, overall I find this to be a refreshing reminder that the art of marching hasn’t totally fallen off the radar.
    Let me start with the “Band Camp” reference- I honestly detest that joke, probably because it’s a vulgar reference. I’ve never seen American Pie, but I do know that’s where it came from and it basically is a story of how “This one time, at Band Camp..” some girl did something utterly disgusting with her flute. So, you can see why I hate that reference coming from people who think Band Camp is all about sneaking around and “getting it on,” when really it’s a lot of sweat, blood, and tears.
    Next, your statement, “Band kids are the best kids, period.” I’m glad your experience with band kids has been great; mine, on the other hand, hasn’t. They’re immature and obnoxious, and our director has so much trouble getting them to just SHUT UP. And taking them out in public? God, it’s embarrassing! It’s not all of them, mind, just a select few, but they do manage to thoroughly ruin it. Those few that don’t care that they’re representing our band and our school- ugh, don’t even get me started.
    As for uniforms, I think it depends on the design of the uniform. Our uniforms make the guys look great! More buff up top and more thin in the waist area (though there’s limitations, of course). Whereas all the girls look like 12-year-old boys. But that’s okay.
    The final thing I’d like to say is that it’s really great that you’re encouraging people to encourage THEIR kids to join marching band, but I’d like to add a disclaimer to that. Do NOT, under any circumstances, FORCE them into it. It just turns into an awful experience for everyone. They won’t want to be there, they won’t put in effort, maybe they won’t even show up to rehearsals! And that makes them, for lack of a better term, suck, which makes the band suck (only as strong as the weakest link, after all). And, in my experience, bands don’t like sucking. Which causes them to give a lot of grief to the person making them suck. Please, please, please, if your kid is really opposed to marching band, don’t make them do it. It might not be for them, and it just causes a lot of unnecessary drama in their lives and makes a bad experience for all the kids who actually do want to be there.
    Um, that’s it, so if you read this, I’d like to thank you for reading it, and if not, no worries! Have a nice day :)

  42. Patti Apr 10 at 11:11 pm Reply Reply

    I was in band in Jr. High, High School, and college. My high school band was small, but very good. When you are in a small band, it’s harder to convince others to join, or at least it seemed that way. My band director was my biggest hero and still is. We talk often on Facebook. Although I had lots of “cool” friends in high school, I still felt like my band friends were the closest. Then I went to college and while in band, concert choir, and show choir, got class favorite and homecoming queen. Homecoming queen? I felt like that was a total victory for us “band geeks” :) I now teach choir, but also can teach band.

  43. Jo Anne Apr 10 at 11:57 pm Reply Reply

    If the band participates in marching competitions, you have hundreds or thousands of teens spending Friday nights and all day (7am-midnight) Saturdays with a large group of other teens+ parents+other adults. I believe that’s the only time that happens consistently.

  44. Sam Signorelli Apr 11 at 12:54 am Reply Reply

    After 4 years in HS marching band (Monte Vista, Spring Valley, CA, 78-81), 3 in college (San Diego State, 81-83), then — over a 3 year period — 8 drum corps (84 Blue Devils, Concord CA — 86 Dagenham Crusaders, Dagenham, England — 87 Empire Statesmen, Rochester, NY — 02-06 SoCal Dream, Irvine, CA), I can safely say being int he marching arts was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

  45. Marlie Apr 11 at 2:29 am Reply Reply

    My parents, thank God, knew all of this. My parents actually moved to a school district where they heard there was an amazing band program. Needless to say, band was required. And i’m so glad. My parents told me that I had to play through high school, but it was my choice in college. I loved it so much. my best friends were in band, my best memories were at competitions or on band trips. i loved playing music with people. I got band nerd of the year my senior year, haha. quite an honor. but anyways! i’m in college now, not majoring or minoring in music but i’m in the band and I LOVE IT. high school band was great, no doubt. but college band is awesome, in a different way, but so awesome.

  46. Perla S. Apr 11 at 2:48 am Reply Reply

    Let’s not forget that some of these “band” kids go out there and represent in DCI! ;) more discipline, more life experiences, more friends, awesome memories! Great way to stay in shape, whilst doing what you love!

  47. Ladybug Crossing Apr 11 at 6:36 am Reply Reply

    Thank you! This is my last year as a HS band parent and uniform mom. Band has been absolutely amazing for my kids. We are currently fighting to save our middle school music program… Ah a life without music is unacceptable. Thanks again!
    LBC

  48. liss Apr 11 at 9:25 am Reply Reply

    I met my husband 22 years ago at band camp. I was almost 16 at the time, he was 14. I had gotten into band 4+ years earlier wanting to be in the marching band when I got to high school, found out at the beginning of that school year that our high school’s marching band had disbanded due to funding. I was crushed but stayed on in band. Besides meeting my husband, band was a great place to figure out who I was besides learning some amazing skills and a great love of music. :)

  49. Chloe Apr 11 at 9:55 am Reply Reply

    Oh my gosh yes!! I was a band kid in High School. I’m a freshman in college now and I didn’t do band this year. You bet I’m doing it next year! For real, band makes you do better in school. I am no not motivated now and it’s because band makes you strive to be the best at everything you do. Man, she said it so perfectly. Band kids never know how to exactly explain band. It is really a safe place and gives you a sense of belonging and acceptance.

  50. Seeker Apr 11 at 10:06 am Reply Reply

    I just graduated from high school a little less than a year ago after four years in marching band, and I’ve already caught myself implementing things I learned during my time with the band into my life now. Joining marching band was the best decision I’ve ever made (and I came so close to not joining; I’m so grateful I did).

  51. Tom Apr 11 at 10:12 am Reply Reply

    What a fantastic read! You portrayed the activity perfectly. Thank you.

  52. Oh how I wish every band parent was like you! :-) My husband is a high school band director and would agree with every single one of your points. You would be surprised at how many parents take great offense to the standard of excellence and accountability that my husband does demand from his students. Thank you for singing his praises!

  53. Bill Redmond Apr 11 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

    KaKaty’s second paragraph is excellent. Walking into the first day of school as a freshman already knowing so many kids (at least by sight) is a real plus

  54. Lansing Apr 11 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    As a band director, I have to agree with alot of what Jason is saying. There’s enough negativity, and it does take away from the intent. I’m sure that no harm was meant, but the stereotyping is an unneeded distractment.

  55. Aimee Apr 11 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    I am sorry I missed the great unveiling of this post yesterday, but better late than never! As a former band geek my own self, I totally and completely agree. I still have pictures of myself in my stunning maroon-and-gold double weave polyester ensemble, complete with white and gold wingy-thingies on the arms (what? that’s what they were) and a gigantic maroon plume in my hat. I. Looked. Terrible. And yet I was so proud.

  56. Julie Neumann Apr 11 at 12:27 pm Reply Reply

    Band has been done such good things for my girls. My older daughter is going to persue a career in music because she loves band so much. It gives them confidence in performing in front of people. It has bee a really good thing. I would suggest any parent to get their kid involved in band. They get such a great experience with it.

  57. Cindy Spears Apr 11 at 1:02 pm Reply Reply

    As a mom of a Senior “band kid” in a VERY WELL OILED MACHINE of a marching band I can say this is all so true….and I will cry my eyes out next year when there is no band camp, Friday night games or Staurday competitions to go to!

  58. N Apr 11 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve been in marching band sense my freshman year of highschool (im a junior in college). I cant explain the amazing things ive experience being in this organizatio. Ive been to places I would never have dreamed of going and played for people I would have never of thought to play for. With the band  I have been to disney world, canada, New york for the macy’s day parade and washington DC for the inauguaral parade for the president. many people will never be able to experience the things I have gotten to. Marching band opens up a whoNle new world!

  59. Angela Apr 11 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    The Deez, I am not sure if it is too late or not but this might be good to check into for anyone who home schools. This past year our county has offered the home school kids the ability to participate in extra curricular activities at the school they would be districted to.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 11 at 4:05 pm Reply Reply

      Yes, great suggestion! My home-schooled kid is eligible for more district activities that I initially realized, so it’s definitely worth checking in your area.

  60. Sylvia Apr 11 at 4:36 pm Reply Reply

    Band changed my life. I loved being in the band all throughout high school. It was my home away from home, the place I always looked forward to going to and my sanctuary– far away from the cliques that were so nasty and prevalent everywhere else.

    I nearly missed out on Band and would have if it wasn’t for 2 band members who convinced me to join when I met them in Newspaper Club. I was a bit hesitant about joining because the only instrument that I could play at the time was the piano– but I agreed to at least talk to the band director about becoming a member. So after Newspaper Club let out, my 2 new friends escorted to the band room where I met the band director. He asked me about my music experience and then welcomed me to what would become my second family and what would also become a life-changing experience.

    Before joining the band, I was an extremely shy underachiever with low self-esteem. My band director was just the opposite: He was an outgoing, much-loved and was an admired workaholic/perfectionist who knew how to motivate everyone to always strive to be and do their best. He was very responsible and was a well-respected role model who genuinely cared about all of his members. He had a great sense of humor and was fun to be with. He informally became like a guidance counselor to any and all of us who needed his help or advice. He and his staff, which included his wife,(who was ALSO a music teacher in one of the district’s middle schools at the time) motivated all of us to learn our music, routines, spots to be in, etc. This be-all-you-can-be, always-do-your-best message and attitude even managed to motivate *this* underachieving slacker! It transformed me so much that by the time I graduated from high school, I was planning to go to college– something I NEVER would have even considered when I first started high school. What? *ME* PAY to take more tests and write more papers and study MORE math? No thanks! (I also believed that I wasn’t even smart enough for college even if I did want to go)… but by being with this very successful band in some way or other on an almost daily basis either through the band class, band practice, football games, competitions, parties or trips, I did begin developing a spark of confidence and the drive to achieve at whatever I do. Just by being with this brilliant group, they taught me not only music but also helped me to see myself differently. I started taking myself more seriously, getting more confident, even applied (and was accepted) to Rutgers University. My newly discovered confidence and drive strengthened so much over time that by the time that I graduated from Rutgers, it was with honors in a double major!

    Now I have 2 wonderful sweet, smart kids. My daughter tried band but it wasn’t her thing. Thankfully she still got into music by being in the choir. My son joined the band and the choir and learned how to play several instruments (as they were most needed). At a back to school night my son’s band director told us as parents that the kids in the band (music in my opinion) are the nicest kids in the entire school and thanked us for that.

    Last year I was able to pull off a fantasy that I have had since my freshman year in high school: to catch up again with all of these wonderful people in person by organizing a band reunion. That finally happened last October. It had been 26 years since I graduated high school. It was so thrilling to see everyone again. Turned out to be a wonderful night that lived up to all that I hoped it could be (with the exception of a few people wishing they could go but were not able to for one reason or another). Seeing everyone (including my director and his wife) hugging and hearing all of the fascinating life stories and laughter was yet another dream come true.

    All in all, joining the band was one of the best decisions I ever made. It changed who I am. My parents and I are so grateful that I was able to have this wonderful experience. I am grateful that my kids’ school still has a music program and that they were able to experience this magic too.

    Go band! Band should NEVER, EVER be cut. It is far too important! It is much more important than many people who have never experienced this will ever know or can even comprehend.

  61. Bill W Apr 11 at 4:38 pm Reply Reply

    As a high school band Dad for seven years, I totally agree, except all the students I know of very much knew they were going to get a workout….even the freshmen. My wife helped fit the kids with those uniforms and one of the boys told her that the pants needed to be tight. He knew he was going to loose inches practicing in the heat.

    There are few programs I can think of that teaches students individual responsibility, work ethic, pride, team work and leadership like marching band does. I would put the marching band kids up against any school group, any time.

    The one other thing I would mention is that marching band generally has a LOT of volunteer opportunities for the parents. You will probably meet and become friends with some wonderful parents who are all there for the same reason – to help their kids by helping the band program. Volunteering also gives you a chance to be near and see your kid(s) without being “with” them. Pretty cool.

  62. Bruce Apr 11 at 4:58 pm Reply Reply

    This was spot on. My wife is a band director at a high school in Boca Raton, Fl.. Everything you said was spot on. If you want your kid to rub elbows with the smartest kids in school then put them in the band.

  63. not supergirl Apr 11 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    I loved being in marching band in high school. I didn’t even play an instrument, just loved marching band, so auditioned for color guard, a.k.a. flag girl. (It worked out great for me, though, I got to carry the US flag in a parade overseas. That was a pretty cool honor.) There were some standout musicians, to be sure, but the whole nature of the activity is to make something amazing and larger than one person. I loved that. I was sort of known in my high school as a non-conformist/nerd, but I really loved that particular teamwork and also loved theater, but not musicals, go figure. My house is across the street from our high school football field. My favorite days are the marching band invitational days: crisp fall mornings warm into sunny afternoons, and there’s music all day. Even now, in my 40s, the best way to make me trip is to start music while I’m walking. If my right heel is stepping down on the downbeat, I’m a wreck. Sadly, both my girls are eschewing band instruments. One loves viola, and the other is a piano player. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. Maybe they can audition to spin a flag. ;)

  64. Kate Apr 11 at 6:44 pm Reply Reply

    Hey ! so i am in the marching band currently and i have to say everything you said is so true! I love marching band with all of my heart and it deffinatly helped turn my life around 360 degrees. And band kids are the greatest.

  65. Kim Apr 11 at 6:45 pm Reply Reply

    I think you missed the point, Jason. I’m pretty sure that amount-of-laundry-generated is not a factor in most teenager’s decision making process anyway.

  66. Luanne k Apr 11 at 9:13 pm Reply Reply

    This is great! My son was in Marching Band for only his junior and senior year and is sorry he hesitated those first two years and so are we! We LOVED being band parents, chaperoning ‘our bus #5′, freezing one week, sweating the next and back to freezing (this IS the Midwest!) in the stands, and watching ‘our kids’, all 250 of them learn and live and grow and become a family. My son is about to enter Purdue in the fall and what is he really looking forward to? Being in the Purdue All American Marching Band…and so are we!

  67. Jeff Apr 11 at 9:52 pm Reply Reply

    At my ten and twenty year reunion there was one thing in common. The band kids all had advanced college degrees and normal family lives.. the others.. not as much. As a former “band geek” I enjoyed the article and you hit on some great points. By the twenty year reunion everyone is on a level field and what matters are the qualities that I mentioned earlier.

  68. TJ Apr 11 at 11:10 pm Reply Reply

    Terrible article. It’s written from a selfish and one-sided perspective and embraces lameness.
    “Band kids are the best kids”. Oh, really? I guess that depends on how you define “best”. And it also makes a difference when your only experience in life is with band. Band is for kids that don’t have the ability to do something more significant.

    • Alli Apr 14 at 10:05 pm Reply Reply

      If you have something against marching band, there is absolutely no point in reading and commenting on this article. I’ll have you know that the vast, vast majority of my current WORLD CLASS marching band peers are enrolled in numerous advanced courses, as well as taking on school and city-wide leadership duties, Personally, next year I am enrolled in a full course load of AP, marching/concert/show band, concert band, jazz band and two musical theatre productions. I’m not the only one. The majority of students in my band are dedicated leaders who happen to be both academically and artistically talented.

    • Lucy May 28 at 9:53 pm Reply Reply

      Wow, TJ.
      You support your opinion that “band kids are the best kids” is a false blanket statement by your blanket statement that “Band is for kids that don’t have the ability to do something more significant.” Aside from its own utter fallacy (both statements are, of course, technically incorrect), you offer no criteria, facts or anecdotes. Just a major dis.
      You’re right: band kids are not ALL the best kids, even though the statement that you object to is akin to a sports fan declaring that “We’re number one!” when the team is not in first place. It’s called cheerleading. Support. Enthusiasm. And no one would say it unless their experience was overwhelmingly, positively in favor of band participants.
      Here’s my anecdotal support for band kids not only being the “best” – but also achieving significance: in 10 years as a band and guard mom, at least 40% of our graduating Top Ten were band students. Every year. In those 10 years, five were valedictorians in our music programs – all who were in more than one ensemble. Many of our band students were in Scouts (a number achieving Eagle status), did community/non-profit volunteer work, held jobs, mentored/tutored other students, were in National Honor Society and its outreach efforts, had other hobbies not related to band…all while being in marching band and competitive winter ensembles. Is that sufficiently significant for you?
      I chaperoned two 5-day band trips, six summer parades and enough competition bus rides to make this claim: I would chaperone the band students ANY time going ANYwhere. Were there kids who were annoying? Yes. Made stupid choices? Of course. But there aren’t many bus drivers or travel agents who remark,”Those were the best kids I ever took anywhere,” just to suck up to a band director they’ll never see again. So, IMHO, band kids ARE the best kids.
      Sorry if you had negative experiences to bring you to the point where you felt compelled to throw acid on a thread that praises a particular group of young adults doing positive things. It just proves the point that many have made: band/marching/guard members don’t do it because it makes them popular. But it almost always does make them better – in a myriad of ways – than they were before. And THAT is significant enough for me.

  69. Jennifer Apr 11 at 11:35 pm Reply Reply

    Very well said and I agree. They are making uniforms now that can be laundered. They’re at least better than the heavy wool uniforms I had to wear in high school. I’m still a band geek myself. I’m 43 and play in a local community band. My son is about to graduate from college with a degree in music composition. Band did wonders for both of us. I’m still friends with many of my band mates from both high school and college.

  70. Sandra Apr 12 at 8:54 am Reply Reply

    I am sorry to say some of the band kids in my high school were not the good kids. Some of them were, but others were sure to toliet people houses, drinking on the weekends, drugs and other things. Some of the kids harassed my brothers were also in band b/c they got the better spots. Just b/c in one highschool the band kids are the good kids doesn’t mean they are in another.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 12 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

      I have found the “good kids in band” truism to hold across schools, states, and years, Sandra. As with anything else, there are always exceptions. I’m sorry to hear your experience was not a good one.

  71. Kristen Apr 12 at 2:59 pm Reply Reply

    You’re right Julianne — I meant Orange Bowl, not Rose Bowl. It was a long time ago!

    • T-Love May 26 at 10:32 am Reply Reply

      Orange Bowl is in Miami.

  72. Ann Apr 12 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    About the nudge-nudge, wink-wink and the code of conduct part…what about those bands at HBCUs that have hazed members, to death at times?

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 12 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

      There are obviously exceptions to every rule, Ann. Broadly speaking, high school marching kids tend to stay out of trouble. It’s not always true, of course, plus I am speaking about high school (as I have no experience with band at the college level).

  73. April Apr 12 at 5:34 pm Reply Reply

    This was a great article! I really want to share this on Facebook except for the brief comment about “obese couch potatoes.” There are many who are obese and love to exercise and many who are thin and hate to exercise. You can’t judge people accurately by how they look. For example, here is the website of an obese professional dancer: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/
    In short, don’t be hatin’. :)

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Apr 12 at 8:24 pm Reply Reply

      No hatin’ here, April. ;) My point was actually that despite appearances to the contrary, that extra exercise was needed. I totally agree with you that size doesn’t dictate physical fitness.

  74. Marissa Apr 12 at 6:21 pm Reply Reply

    When I started I thought it was going to be hell, but I met some great friends, met my boyfriend or four years, and even got to know the upperclassman, who were at first terrifying. And in all honesty I am hating leaving my high school, my family, that I grew with these last few years. But like I said I’ve met great people. Even someone I will soon be marrying my sweetheart. Its been awesome.

  75. Sunny Apr 12 at 7:57 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for this great support of marching band. My band director husband is an awesome teacher and absolutely loves instilling a passion for music in his students. There are good and bad kids everywhere but band is a great way for all kids to learn team work despite their athletic ability. How many band kids to you see not participating during half time of a football game? How many football players do you see not participating during a football game? In band, all kids have a place, and it’s not just to warm the bench. It’s time to remove the “geek” stigma about band and realize that being a musician is cool and a skill carried through life.

  76. Marching Rammie Apr 13 at 12:19 pm Reply Reply

    Four high school years, four State medals, one State championship, five college years, one bowl game, four losing seasons, two guest jazz bands, four state-televised holiday parades, two NFL halftime shows, one internationally-televised parade, ten days in Ireland over St. Patrick’s Day, numerous awards (including best adult band at Dublin’s Patty’s Day parade this year), and about 800 close friends later- I couldn’t agree more.

  77. Darla Apr 13 at 1:52 pm Reply Reply

    Hello,
    I too was a four year “band geek” that went on being a “band geek” in college and majoring in music education. After teaching for 7 years, I continued this “geekness” into a career in the US Army Band field. I served for 21 years and got to travel all over the world. I can not state how important being in band was from my jr. high days and the impact it would have on my life. I almost immediately knew, even then, what I wanted to do in my life, because I fell in love with it!! When in band, you do have an instant family and many friends. Since I was a very shy teenager, this was great for me. Also, what it did for my confidence was wonderful! I believe EVERYONE should be in band in school, and I always cringe when I read about those “people” in education who want to take away the arts! STUPID!! I am still a professional flutist and will be playing and teaching music for the rest of my life. YAH BAND!!!

  78. Kelli Apr 13 at 4:07 pm Reply Reply

    I love your article!  It amazes me that there are universal truths about band no matter where you live and what generation you are talking about!
    I know my daughter’s experience in marching band/color guard has forever changed her for the better.  She is self confident, hard working, and has become a leader of the group.  Who would not want that for their child.  I think she also might have one of the coolest invitations to prom to remember ever.  Her boyfriend, a percussionist, had to do a lift with her in part of her dance during this year’s show. During that lift at the finals of the Fiesta Bowl Band Championships, he asked her to prom.  This band “geek” mom thinks it is the best prom invite ever.  :)  
    My 6th grade son also has been forever changed by marching band.  This year he was asked to play in the pit.  He is the first 6th grader in the history of the school to be in the high school marching band.  It turns out that marching band and having 100+ high school friends was just what he needed to get through a horrible bout of being bullied at the jr. high.  I don’t know if he would have survived those horrible weeks without the knowledge that high school will be so much better!  This knowledge only was gained because of his membership in marching band.
     I will soon be taking over as Band Booster president and would love to use some of your ideas in my address to 8th grade parents!  I will of course give you credit!  

  79. Tee Morris Apr 13 at 4:49 pm Reply Reply

    Monacan High School 1983-1987
    (Brass Field Commander, 1986-87)
    James Madison University, 1987-1992
    (missed only one season as I was working towards a semester overseas)
    Trombone player.

    Best years of my life.

    I still remember the time when I picked up my MRD uniform. Then, it was real. At my school I was a band geek. At JMU, though, I was a rock star. Even today, I say “I marched with the band.” and students and alumni both react with “Oh wow.”

    And yes…I still march with them on Alumni Band Day.

    http://photos.dnronline.com/?p=4066

    I believe in the power of music.

  80. Mel Apr 13 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    Here’s how I combat the “band geek” comments my students invariably hear.
    Do you know what the cheerleaders and jocks call band geeks 10 years after graduation? . . . . . . . BOSS!

  81. Karyn Apr 14 at 1:27 am Reply Reply

    AMEN!!!! Our oldest son joined his drum line this past year and it has been a lifesaver for him too….I could try to summarize it myself, but my husbands blog covered it all so much more eloquently….so will simply (shamelessly) share that link instead… ;-) http://www.justarobot.com/2012/11/what-i-hear-between-drums.html

  82. Avid Band Mom Apr 14 at 7:51 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t know where my amazing son would have been without marching band. He’s a quiet, intelligent bi-racial young man who grew up in a mostly white neighborhood and thus schools. He chose band over baseball and continued with band throughout his high school and college years. In addition to marching band he played in the high school’s jazz band, concert band and symphony. He also played in a summer marching band that exposed us all to drum corps. He was selected as one of two drum majors in high school, the one drum major in the summer band and one of 2 drum majors at the University of Oregon. For those who don’t know: drum majors direct the band while on the field and do not necessarily play drums. My drum major plays trombone.

    All music education is so important! My daughter was on dance team and suggestions to do color guard with the band were met with a definite, “NO! My brother’s in band!” So, choir filled her high school music requirement. She eventually majored in vocal performance in college. I’m happy to say she is not singing opera in Europe, but is happily working at a university as an executive assistant and singing the national anthem at various sporting events. I know my kids both did better in all their studies because of their involvement in music. It pays long-term dividends!

  83. Amy Apr 15 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    My heart has exploded with love over this post. I was in marching band from 8-12th grade and 2 years of college. It was the best experience of my entire life. I even go back to Auburn every year and march in the alumni band. My band directors were the most amazing teachers on the planet. My first year in high school marching band our director retired. At the band banquet that year, the entire band and most of the parents cried for almost the entire banquet. That director not only directed me, but he directed my dad in band too. The next band director came in and shook everything up, even changing our competitions. But if he hadn’t shook everything up, I’d never have met my amazing husband. Our third director was the most amazing teacher and friend ever. He and his wife both were so supportive and I still call them when I need help. Oh and of course, the friends you make in band literally will never leave you. I’m still friends with almost everyone I was friends with when  I marched with in high school and college. The bond of band is amazing. 

    Also, side note…”dry clean only means this uniform is dirty”. Our high school band cleaned our uniforms for us. In college we had to clean our uniforms ourselves. Thank goodness for febreze. I’m pretty sure I dry cleaned my uniform the day before i had to return it both times. 

  84. Bonnie Apr 15 at 12:43 pm Reply Reply

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! An important benefit for my son participating in marching band is the social solidarity it provides. He has been thru a lot over the years and is stronger and more mature than many kids his age; yet the vulnerabilities of adolescence are still very much part of his day-to-day, and he finds tremendous comfort among his band cohorts both in and out of school. And his grades are always better during marching band season! Band geeks rule!

  85. jessica fantastica Apr 18 at 6:43 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t think geek is a derogatory term any longer. Geeks are cool.

  86. Hannah Apr 21 at 2:43 pm Reply Reply

    The acceptance part is spot on. I’ve noticed, being an 8th grade band geek, that band is the only place where I can be myself. In band people love funny, crazy, weird, and dorky kids. If  you act like that outside of band people usually will think mean thoughts. Band kids generally have more fun in school.

    The family part is huge as well. I’m going to the high school next year as a freshman and I’ll be marching. Already high schoolers from my future section have messaged me and other eighth grade trombone players offering any help. And they barely know us, yet they care for us! They are answering our countless questions and just yesterday the section leader helped me with my audition music! Go band!!

  87. Grlpwr Apr 24 at 9:04 am Reply Reply

    If you think marching band is awesomeness (which it is) then you should check out drum corps at dci.org

  88. Karen Apr 24 at 12:02 pm Reply Reply

    Some of us never outgrow marching band–but at least our “uniforms” have improved. There’s a community marching band in Atlanta that is a great home for aging band geeks. I love being able to play the sax again! http://seedandfeed.org

  89. Bev Apr 24 at 8:41 pm Reply Reply

    It’s cool to see so many band directors and moms posting on here. I am both of those things as well. I loved this article and to the people who are complaining about the “negative” references at the beginning, I say lighten up! One thing I’ve learnd about band kids in my many years is that they understand humor. The kids who don’t usually aren’t in band very long. Luckily for me my community has lots of kids who get it so we have 250 kids in the band. I loved this article so much I had my band parents post the link on the band website. I’m going to print it and pass it out to all our 8th grade band parents to encourage their kids to sign up for band. Thank you Mir!

  90. Steve May 10 at 6:47 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Karen from the Seed and Feed. Here in Portland, Oregon I’m lucky enough to be with TWO marching bands. The Beat Goes On Marching Band (tbgo.org) plays all year, travels, and does cool stuff like opening a legislative session at the Oregon House of Representatives last week. The One More Time Around Again Marching Band (omtaamb.org) is believed to be the largest permanent marching band in the world, but plays mostly during our Rose Festival season. And I guarantee that BOTH bands are having more fun than anyone else at the event!

  91. JoAnn Jordan May 10 at 8:15 pm Reply Reply

    I am a former marching band member. Doing that provided me the opportunity to travel from Kansas to Japan with over 100 other Kansas students. As both a band mom and a band director’s wife, I know that hard work and dedication are major to the success of the group and the pride of the individual. Band students may not have pep rallies in their honor, but they learn to be dedicated from within themselves – something that will serve them well throughout life.

  92. Bob May 10 at 11:44 pm Reply Reply

    I beg to differ with two assertions, namely that all band directors are wonderful people and that “band kids are the best kids, period.” My high school matching band director was a psychotic sadist obsessed with winning state matching contest, and was abusive in ways that would not have been tolerated among even my drill instructors in the Navy. She had no business anywhere near kids, but her abuses were overlooked or even condoned by the administration until the assistant band director threatened to go to the press. As for the assertion that “band kids are the best kids, period,” do the words “Florida A&M” mean anything to you? Even in my small rural high school in the 90s, there were plenty of “shenanigans” in the band. Lets just say that instrument cases make great places to stash booze and other illicit substances. I’m glad the author’s kids are having a great band experience, but to suggest that every kid will is ridiculous to the point of being dangerous.

  93. Steve Garner May 16 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    I am a band director and I just wanted to say thank you for your comments.  I’ve shared this article with my students and thier parents.  Enjoyable to read and a great motivator!  Thank you!!

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel May 16 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

      Thank you for leaving such a nice comment and sharing it with your community. It makes our day.

  94. Judy May 26 at 2:06 pm Reply Reply

    I am a former band geek myself, and am the proud mother of four band geeks, who are all productive happy adults now. One daughter just married a young man who became her best friend during their band years! I agree with everything you said. We love band! It was a terrific experience for us!

  95. Ron Totora Jul 20 at 11:25 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for a parental insight.  It’s tough to keep students involved in music, but if more parents were involved with their children’s lives, my music program would be thriving.  Thank you for supporting the arts and your children.  Just a not about your photo, it’s reversed.  Trombone player do not use their left hand for the slide.  ;-)

  96. A_Amom Jul 23 at 3:24 am Reply Reply

    Loved your post. I was directed to your site by our son’s band director. Our son is going to be a senior this year and his experience and ours has been almost exactly like you stated. I was so glad to hear that his old elementary school has gotten funding for a full time music teacher. I wish all schools were able to give the same opportunity to more students.

  97. SouthernWhiteHorse Aug 06 at 8:40 am Reply Reply

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo on this article!!!! 

    I am originally from New Orleans where MUSIC is the AIR we breathe and the LIFE we all live growing up. Marching Band in New Orleans means something else entirely. It is not just the other extra-curricular activity it is the thing that keeps kids off of the streets and focused on their studies. Marching Band directors are synonymous with the hero and the freedom fighter in war scenarios. And just as in Battle they serve as front line Generals against the drug trade…..and they win but providing a path to college and a better life. Additionally they also serve as surrogate fathers and the band as families for those that were not as fortunate as I was to have both parents in the home. 

    Bottom Line….. THERE ARE NO BAND GEEKS in NEW ORLEANS……Only Musical Warriors.  

    Being in the Marching Band has more prestige than being on the football or basketball team…a position of honor that is earned. The competition is fierce at the High School, and even the Middle School Levels. 

    I was a Drum Major at the first historically all Black magnet school in New Orleans (McDonogh #35 Senior High College Preparatory School) and I went on to play for the premier collegiate show band of the United States (Southern University “Human Jukebox” Marching Band – TUBAPLAYER)

    One Mechanical Engineering degree, Two MBA’s and a PhD (end of 2013) later. I am now an Engineer and US Diplomat with the Department of State, serving as the Security Engineering Attaché to the United Kingdom. Most of my colleagues are (hundreds of them) Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Business Owners, Politicians, and of course Band Directors and Musicians (one of my classmate at McDonogh#35 even has a Grammy now (Rebirth Brass Band)).

    ALL of them had their start in Marching Band. I cannot think of a better extra-curricular activity that produces fully engaged and well-rounded students. And I would encourage all parents to highly consider this for their child. 

    P.S. : Cant say that I agree with the uniforms look bad bit. Our Uniforms are quite Bad Ass…..LOL

    P.P.S: To get an idea of what I am speaking about back in New Orleans please watch this trailer. The group featured is called the “Roots of Music” and they have done an excellent job in rebuilding our Marching bands after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, a battle that continues to this day. http://thewholegrittycity.com/

    P.P.P.S.: As for Southern well …the footahe speaks for itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxRWZLKGe70

  98. Doug Warren Aug 06 at 9:01 am Reply Reply

    As a recovering band geek I loved this article. My entire high school experience was framed by the band atmosphere. I am in my late 40s and I still maintain contact with friends from my high school band….and there was that time I forgot to bring my white shoes that went with my uniform so I improvised by painting my feet white with shoe polish and marched barefoot. ;-)

  99. Kassandra Millard Aug 07 at 2:03 pm Reply Reply

    *Gestures to all of that* Graduated 3 years ago and miss band like crazy. I don’t regret one bit about joining :)

  100. Jessica B. Aug 07 at 3:34 pm Reply Reply

    I am a senior in high school and I’ll be starting my 4th year in marching band this month. My band has led me to have some of the best experiences of my life and my closest friends are a part of band too. I can’t imagine how some people I know have gone through high school just in service clubs because it just seems so lackluster. My high school career has been colored by the competitions where the crowds give us standing ovations, the superiors and the excellents, the uniforms flashing by as other bands cheer us on (because even when competing, we’re all on the same side), and this has led me to expect the best from life and to strive for it. Marching band has taught me not to settle for good, but to strive for that superior. It’s taught all of us. Putting on that uniform (as unattractive as it is) is a source of pride for us. When we’re on that field we’re not losers or geeks or preps or jocks. It’s just us and the music. And that’s why we love what we do.

  101. Dorian Aug 12 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    For now, my kid thinks marching band is for cool people…No mention of dorkiness here! Thank god for school with music program.

  102. Tigerbandgirl Aug 15 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    All true! Band is the best thing that ever happened to me. HOWEVER, careful with canonizing the director. Ours took advantage of this and was had a string of teenage girls he selected from the senior class and that he had sex with. Too much adoration is not always good.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Aug 20 at 10:00 am Reply Reply

      Yikes!! It hopefully goes without saying that all kids should be educated on appropriate boundaries between adults and young people.

  103. Barb Sep 08 at 11:27 am Reply Reply

    Our school does not have a marching band. A shame since my daughter is a class of 700. And we have a colorguard (of 50 to 100) that dances to taped music, a dance team and a huge cheerleading squad. More students hang out at the entrence chatting than in the stands watching or cheering on our team. (Our football team is a team with a winning record). We have an excellent pool of talent as you see how good our drama and chorus are. Plus we have a jazz band orchestra and concert band. For some reason the claim is that a survey went out and no one was interested. That is too bad. Yes the colorguard and dance team are very good but why we don’t have a band is way beyond me. Yes our district also has more money than those surrounding us. How to I drum up support and interest? 

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Sep 09 at 9:39 pm Reply Reply

      Wow, at a school that size with a good football program, no band? I’d imagine you could approach your PTA, for starters. I wonder if the band director(s) just doesn’t want to do it…? A motivated group of band kids with parental support could probably at least get the idea on the table. Good luck!

  104. Grandma Laura May 22 at 10:52 am Reply Reply

    Remember that universities with football teams have marching bands. Good grades, high SAT scores and marching band experience can lead to a SCHOLARSHIP!!!

  105. Dave May 22 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    Ms. Kamin –

    Thank you so much for posting this. I spent lots of time on football fields as a marching band member in high school and college, as well as some time in a drum and bugle corps. It’s not just an activity. It is a wonderful way to teach social skills and how to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Not many other high school programs can offer that.

    I also spent more than 15 years as a marching instructor with various bands, sometimes serving as the band director’s right-hand man. While I can lay no claim to being a parent, I will say that the joy derived from watching each class of kids grow and become intelligent, well-rounded young men and women fills me with pride to this day.

    I can’t say enough about the benefits of being in, and working with, marching bands. It tapped into a passion I didn’t even know I had, and I am very grateful for the experiences, both as a member and as a teacher.

  106. Garry May 26 at 5:11 pm Reply Reply

    Great read, Ms. Kamin. After marching in band and drum corps, teaching band and drum corps, founding and directing a drum corps, I’m still giving back to an activity that gave me so much. The majority of my Facebook friends are from band and drum corps, including one who responded to this earlier. My wife marched band and drum corps 10 years after me and half-way across the country, but we made that early connection because of our shared experiences. Band and drum corps is an extended family.What in some cases are rivals often become friends after the competition is done. My older daughter did band, but didn’t march drum corps, though she loves to go to shows. (She went to finals in Florida once with some friends, even though we live in Southern California.) Our younger daughter? We don’t know yet, though it’s in her DNA. We’ll know better in about a year when she gets to the age when they offer music instruction. Would I change anything if I could? I don’t think so, because everything that happened has lead me to this point in my life.

    I have to share one story, though. I know a band director in Arizona, and he had a kid come into his office once to quit the band. When he asked why, the kid said, “Because everyone calls me band fag.” The director said, “So? We’re all band fags. He’s a band fag. She’s a band fag. I’m the queen band fag.” What happened after that is so band-ish. They all started calling each other band fag. Because they embraced it, it wasn’t funny anymore to the jerks saying it, so it stopped, and went away. BTW, they were a very successful program in the 90’s, and I’d be surprised  if they weren’t still successful.

    One more comment (I promise!). I’ve worked at a few schools that had academically challenged kids. The thing that kept them coming was band. Without it, I know of many that would have dropped out. So, while they may not have been the best “students” when it came to their regular curriculum, they stayed and graduated because of band. One in particular has become a very talented artist, and I couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments if he were my own son…which he practically was for four years!

  107. jay maurice Jun 13 at 11:15 pm Reply Reply

    As a music educator myself, i couldn’t agree more. Teaching private music lessons lets me touch lives but being a part of a group is an amazing experience,

    Jay Maurice

  108. joe white Jul 21 at 4:00 am Reply Reply

    this article is all true cause this is my final year in marching band in high school

  109. Tom Moses Aug 01 at 12:04 am Reply Reply

    Has anyone ever heard of having a child in the high school marching band for 7 years? My daughter started in the high school marching band in 6th grade playing the Baritone. I was just curious. Thank you.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Aug 01 at 12:59 pm Reply Reply

      That’s pretty impressive, Tom! Our band allows rising 8th graders to join, giving kids the option of a 5th year, but 7 is a new one (to me)!

  110. Tanya Willbanks Aug 01 at 1:15 pm Reply Reply

    You just described my child to a T. I have a little girl that is so Very Awesome! I just finished reading your post and through tears I feel compelled to respond. You are 100 percent correct. My daughter has overcome many Very Difficult Events the past few years. Through it all, she has managed to rely on her Very Musically Inclined Abilities! She would haue been so lost with out her “Band Family” THESE ARE THE YOUNG FUTURE LEADERS TO COME! Everyone should take note of every name in the band…. Especially Percussion. Yes they have parties and they eat pizza. They really hang out ànd play video games and talk about intelligent topics and laugh with each other not at one another. THEY ALSO STAND UNITED BEYOND BELIEF!

  111. Maria Sep 25 at 9:25 am Reply Reply

    Great article. I came across it doing research. Maybe you or your readers can help…how do you evaluate if a school has a good band program?  I have a 7th grade trumpeter. We are thinking of moving to another state. She loves band, and I want to make sure she continues to have a great band experience. Any insight? Here in Texas we have UIL and I know other states have similar programs. Should I look to see the schools that win the most of those contests? I don’t know if this is the best indicator. Any insight you can give would be most appreciated.  Thank you!

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Sep 25 at 10:32 am Reply Reply

      Hi, Maria. This is a GREAT question! I want to give you (and others) a detailed answer so stay tuned—I will dedicate a post to it next week. :)

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