Marching Band in College

So with my scheduling for next semester finished, I thought I would talk a little bit about doing marching band in college. I’m only speaking of my experience from my time in the Legend, so the situation may be (totally is) different at other schools. But I’d just like to give you the general idea!

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First things first, I have to be totally honest here: I didn’t join marching band until my sophomore year (this past fall). I was really concerned going into college that I was the bottom of the clarinet studio, I knew I didn’t want to march clarinet, so I figured marching a different instrument would make me suck even worse at clarinet. Weird logic, but it wound up benefiting me. I got much better at my primary instrument, got myself a bunch of new college friends, and I got adjusted to the idea of being in college and living at home at the same time. I really think that I had done it that first year, I would’ve been really overwhelmed with all the demands it put on me. Plus, to be honest, I was kind of terrified of meeting new people. It took me quite some time to talk to people when I actually started classes.

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When it came time for marching band this past year, I actually wasn’t going to do it again. I was really on the fence about it, until Abby told me that the baritubas were in dire need of baritones. I had never really played, though I had farted around with it during the summers in high school. As is my usual thought process, I thought the heavier and louder the instrument, the more fun I would have…. I wasn’t wrong. I’ve also just never been a fan of marching clarinet, so it was a great time when I found out somebody needed help. I got my instrument signed out at the last possible second (thanks, Garrison!) and took it home over the summer.

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I slowly started working things out, mainly dealing with the struggle that is partials. Woodwind players don’t have to deal with partials, so I got really frustrated really quickly. I eventually came to learn some scales and things like that, then got the show music and some stands tunes. Ouch. It was so difficult to get through everything, and I honestly had a few nights where I just cried because I sucked so bad. I had no idea how I was going to make it.

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When audition day finally came, I was so nervous that I wanted to throw up. I wound up sucking so bad in my audition that I left the room and cried. It was the worst audition of my life, even worse than the time I passed out mid-audition. But when the list went up, there was my name… way at the bottom, but my name was still there. Pretty sure it was just so we had more bodies on the field, but I would take anything I got.

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Band camp was amazing. Though there were days that I was frustrated and a few times our entire section almost committed mass homicide, we all survived. I got to learn the music so quickly and I became a much better player in about ten days, and I realized how much I really love marching. Basics were a blast for me, and I loved every minute of learning drill… except when people couldn’t hit their dots. Seriously though, there are some things about band camp that I’ll always remember and will always make me smile, and I’m so lucky.

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This seems like a lot of rambling without a moral to the story, right? I’m getting there. Marching band in college changed me. Sure, there were some things I learned really quickly, but it was an amazing experience to grow as a person and a musician.

  • Rehearsals were time-consuming, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately worth every second. There was never any talking, or else our director would fly off his scaffolding in a fit of rage. But so much got accomplished in those two-hour blocks on MWF that it made every performance amazing. There’s still nothing better than watching our first performance of the Respighi show to our last performance of the First Circle show to see how much better we all got.
  • People can become your family very quickly. By the end of band camp alone, I already had made a handful of amazing friends I wouldn’t have gotten to meet otherwise. Though there was some bickering and yelling, we had each others’ backs. When we lost one of our baritone players, it felt like we had literally lost a member of a family… admittedly, that baritone player was a tuba player’s little and my now-boyfriend, but still!
  • You will be so amazed at what you can do. I ran my fastest mile time ever after a two-hour First Circle rehearsal, and I couldn’t believe it. I felt fantastic and powerful and elated. I wasn’t struggling for breath, and I could’ve kept going. By the end of the season, I was playing things I never would have been able to before. I learned quickly (I had to) and it paid off so much by the end.

Marching band in college is amazing. Barring any medical miracles, it absolutely breaks my heart that I won’t be able to return in the fall. But the memories I made during this one season alone force me to make the case for everyone: at some point, do marching band in college. It will be one of the best choices you make.

Was, Is, and Ever Shall Be… The Legend <3

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