Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's that football team doing on the marching field?

I spent last Saturday completely away from the Internet and unable to feed my addiction to political blogs – or any kind of political talk for that matter. It was actually quite nice and a little taste of what my life will return to after next Tuesday. Not that I’m going to give up some of the new blogs I’ve discovered during this election cycle – I just won’t be as obsessive about checking them every 15 secondsminutes.

Where, you might ask, can someone completely escape politics just over a week before the most contentious election I can remember?

At the Idaho District Three Marching Festival.


I’m the kind of gal who goes to the football games solely to watch the halftime entertainment. In sixth grade, when confronted with the choice of choir, orchestra, musical history or band, both of my kids chose band. My daughter stuck with it until she graduated from high school and my son is currently in his first year as a member of his high school marching band.

Man, I had no idea how hard band kids work to learn the short programs they perform during halftime at the football game! They spend two weeks in the summer at “band camp” – which, in Meridian, is NOTHING like American Pie: Band Camp. They spend the vast majority of their time the first week just learning the basics of marching (it’s a lot harder than it looks) and, if they’re lucky, they might learn part of their show during the second week of camp after they’ve learned to combine music playing with the marching.

Then there is the twice-weekly evening practices – at least 2-1/2 hours each. Plus the time they spend in class learning the music.

By the time the first football games rolls around, the band usually only knows a couple of minutes of the show. The first time I watched my daughter march, I was completely confused. Like “Is that it? Is that what they spent two full weeks of camp, at least one week of practices and class time learning? THAT’s the show?” kind of confused.

Well, no, it isn’t. Our band usually doesn’t have the entire show memorized until right before they head out of town to their first competition. And one or two weeks later is District III – the event they’ve spent two months preparing for. Because if you think the marching band does all that work for the football game halftimes, you’re so very wrong. Until I had a marcher, I never realized how completely the band is ignored during halftime. (How pissed off that makes me is another story for another blog – because I don’t think the language I’d have to use to describe my irritation is appropriate here!)

Nope, they’re preparing for District III – when 25 bands from the district come together to strut their stuff on the blue Smurf Turf at Boise State University. Because THAT audience knows how much sweat and effort has gone into the show they make look so effortless.

Our school has a fabulous director – she came straight from college to a brand new high school and in her first teaching job, turned her students into an award winning band in two years’ time. We are so very lucky to have her.

I’ve been a complete band geek since the first year my daughter marched and I have a hard time understanding parents who don’t come to every single performance and volunteer for the myriad of behind-the-scenes jobs that keep the band director and students able to focus on the job they have to do. Both my husband and I travel to the away competitions – usually driving the equipment truck. We also help at any local competitions – loading and unloading the equipment truck and helping get the front ensemble instruments on and off the field. I served as the Band Booster president for one year and the secretary for the last three years (even during the “gap” year when I had no student actually in the marching band – since our school doesn’t march its Freshman students).

I love hanging with the band kids – they’re a refreshing reminder that all teenagers aren’t like those depicted on television or in the movies. Band kids are, for the most part, just nice kids.

My “Marching Band Parent” t-shirt says it all:

You Know You’re a Marching Band Parent When …

You know the difference between the pit and the battery

All your friends are other band parents

People ask about your social life and you say, “Oh, you mean the Marching Band?”

You know what a shako is

Your idea of a fun weekend is to watch teenagers stop the heck out of a football field

You judge time by the marching band schedule

You don’t question taking time off work to help the band

You are crazy enough to travel to who knows where with a bunch of high school kids

You feel like a band “groupie”

A well done program sends chills down your spine

You’re at the school at odd hours picking up, dropping off your student or helping the band

The highlight of the Friday night football game is the marching band

You have so much fun for free and work long hours for no pay all for the simple act of saying “it’s for the kids”


Idaho Joe said...

2 more years and you'll have to find something else to occupy your late summer and fall evenings and weekends.

And most of the kids are pretty good, but I'm still not sure about the drum line.

Miranda Wampler said...

Oh my goodness, this makes me miss band SO much. I was a huuuge band geek all the way from 5th grade until I finished college. Sososo much hard work.