When it comes to my college life, one of the most important parts of it is my friends – my “family away from home,” as I often like to call them. Subsequently, those individuals are mainly found in the band. In the summer, I typically spend around 100 hours over a week and a half at marching band camp. After spending that much time around a select group of people, we’ve learned to love each other, fight with each other, but most importantly, we’ve learned to rely on each other. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far during my time in the bands. While I am my own person, playing my own instrument and taking my own steps in my own pattern, I am only one piece of the performance. In the Kent State Marching Golden Flashes, I am about 1/150 of the performance. I can do everything perfectly, but if I don’t rely on my peers to do the same, the show could fall apart. Here’s why.
(NOTE: All meme pictures came from smosh.com)
First: when marching in a show, you have something called dots. The director will mark your dot in a computer program that overlays the dots onto a football field. Your dot is YOUR DOT. As a member of the marching band, you usually defend that dot like you defend your honor. This has accounted for incredibly accurate memes such as this one. During a show, you rely on everyone around you to know their dots. You learn to trust the trombones to not hit you in the head with your slides and hope the drummers don’t toss a stick your way. You can try to trust the trumpets to play quieter when they pass you, but don’t waste your time on that one.
Next: the attention position is somewhat of a contest in most bands. I’ve known band directors to request their band stand at attention for a few minutes, or they hold contests to see who can do it the longest. That could turn into a 10 minute contest, easily. Attention is simply holding your instrument at a set position (this varies from band to band) while holding your head high and feet together. It is somewhat militaristic in its style, but very hard to hold for long periods of time. Very often, you stand at attention before a break, whether it be for lunch or for water. When you move, you’ve broken it. Long story short, you don’t move while standing at attention. The less you move, the quicker we can all get to a water break, and that’s really what we look forward to after a run-through of a show.
All the fighting, the hard work, dedication, time spent together…that’s what makes us a family. Another part of it is we don’t have time for other friends during marching band season, so we have to deal with each other. Truthfully, I would deal with everyone in the band all year round if I could. I have learned to rely on them, trust them, form friendships with them, and more importantly I have learned to make music with them. Our whole goal of being in a band is purely for entertainment. We are also what gets the crowd cheering when the team has hit a rough patch in the game. Doing all of this, though, we’ve formed unbreakable bonds with each other. These bonds are going to last throughout my college career, and into my adult life. Something about making music with a group of people gives you a friendship that is held together with more than just inside jokes and some great memories. It’s the opportunity to not only be a part of something bigger than yourself, but also be able to create a beautiful piece of art filled with passion, love and friendship.