Earlier today a friend of mine posted that, a few weeks into football season, he finally got to see the marching band.
I responded that in my opinion seeing the marching band is the only reason to go to the game.
I am a band geek.
Proud of it.
To those who participate, marching band teaches important life lessons:
1. You have to listen to each other.
Sure, the drums and the trumpets are easiest to hear, but each instrument adds to the overall sound. If you don’t listen for all the parts, you are likely to lag behind the group or rush ahead. The end result: chaos and confusion.
2. Measured steps result in success.
If everybody takes eight steps for every five yards, then you stay together and the designs and pictures your band leader worked so hard to lay out actually look as intended. Even though you can’t see the big picture from where you stand half way between the 40 yard line and the 35 yard line – from up in the stands the image is clear.
3. You have to step off the sideline to start the show.
You can practice. You can suit up in your uniform. You can memorize the music. But eventually, you have to step off and get going.
4. Some people will talk during your performance.
Perform anyway –for the ones who are paying attention and for yourself. Not everybody gets it. Not everybody cares. But some people do. Perform for them and ignore the skeptics.
5. Excellence means doing better than you did before, not necessarily better than the other guy.
Yes, there are marching band competitions. But a more common gathering is the band-spectacular-type event. These feature multiple bands, all performing their shows and cheering each other on. It’s about celebrating excellence, not “crushing” the competition.
6. Practice, practice, practice, and it will look easier than it really is.
Marching eight to five, executing various stops and turns, while simultaneously playing a musical instrument, and – in the case of a good old-fashioned grass field – trying not to have your pretty white band shoes sucked off into the mud – now THERE’S multi-tasking.
Did I mention you are probably wearing some crazy uniform that is two sizes too big or too small and has been held together over the years with safety pins and Velcro? And it is probably either roasting hot or freezing cold?
Did I mention that band people are some of the best people you will ever meet? Which brings us to:
7. Being part of something larger than yourself can be pretty awesome.
Teamwork and community are worth the effort.
March on, dear friends, march on.
*** (Photo by Dewayne R. Lowther)