In high school, joining the marching band was one of the best decisions I made. I made many amazing friends through the organization that I likely would have never met if I hadn’t joined when I did, and the experiences I received that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t joined Marching band taught me so much that I would never have learned if I hadn’t decided to join. The hours of practice under the hot summer sun, in the cold rain, and in the freezing wind were enough to create a bond among the band that would have been hard to come by elsewhere. The strict schedule of marching band taught me responsibility and helped me learn to manage my priorities, and the ability to perform in front of large crowds weekly helped me grow more comfortable around people. Marching band positively impacted my teenage years more than most other aspects of my life.
In pop culture and other forms of media, band kids are often portrayed negatively. On TV and in movies, band kids, especially those in the marching band, are often shown to be unattractive, often wearing their uniforms during all hours of the day and always having their instruments on hand. They are often shown wearing large, unfashionable glasses if they are wearing any, and often have acne ridden skin. In many cases, they are used more as comic relief than any significant factor to the plot of the story. In the music video for You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift, they used marching band to portray her as being “lamer” than the girl dating the boy that she wanted.
While I understand that marching band isn’t for everyone, I fear that this negative image the media gives being in marching band in high school drives away potential participants because of the false image it gives. Young people have the tendency to try to fit in with the image of what media such as television shows to be the desirable teenager, which may cause them to lose an experience they can only participate in when in school.
While the media may portray the activity negatively, there have been many inspirational figures and popular celebrities that were once band kids themselves. For example, Lil Wayne and Kurt Cobain played percussion, Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry, and Tina Fey all played the flute, and Kesha and former president Bill Clinton played saxophone in their school bands when they were young.
There are many incredible benefits to being in marching band as a young person. Marching band teaches people responsibility, teamwork, time management and leadership. Playing music is also believed to have large neurological benefits, and is great physical exercise as well. Finally, it strengthens a person’s confidence immensely. Nothing feels better than finishing a really strong performance and having a crowd of hundreds applaud you for it.
Now that I am in college, marching band has become an even larger part of my life. I am a second-year member of the West Chester University Incomparable Golden Rams Marching band on alto saxophone. The friends I have made through that organization are likely going to be my friends for life. It has provided me with an activity to have fun and take some time away from my school work while still being productive. I can only imagine how much I would have missed out on had I not joined marching band, and I hope that in the future, marching band is portrayed as what it truly is; a fun, active, and social opportunity that is unlike any other.