Being shielded by Hollywood, society views band members as the weird geeks in school. What most do not think about, are the benefits that band members gain from being in such a tight social group. Famous movies, like American Pie, make it hard for band members to express to the world all of the great things that marching band has to offer. It is hard for most to look past the stereotypical marching band geek and envision the advantages of being in marching band.
There were many times when I would begin to discuss my experiences in marching band, and I would be cut off in mid-sentence by someone quoting the famous line from American Pie, “This one time at band camp… ” I felt as though I was being ignored and immediately placed into a stereotype that was certainly not indicative of my personality. I knew that I was not the only one with this problem. Being around other members of the band, I would always hear talk of people getting picked on and placed into the category of band geek.
Before joining band, myself, I could have possibly been classified as a jock who pushed others around and picked on them. In seventh grade, my brother joined the middle school band. This was the start of a new beginning for me. My perspective of others started to broaden slightly by being exposed to some band members who were my brother’s friends. Three years later, when I entered seventh grade, I decided to join the middle school band and play the trumpet. I finally was a part of the group that I had been mocking for years. This was a large step for me.
I was about to embark on a tremendous journey that would completely change my perspective on life. I would start to realize, as I became closer to the other members, that band students are not all the geeks that they are made out to be. While some members are a little quirky and some of the things that I did in band were a little weird, I truly discovered all of the great things that band has to offer. As soon came to realize, members of marching bands gain valuable character traits, leadership skills, and academic benefits that help them excel in life.
Towards the end of my high school career, and soon after entering college, heard a lot of adults and future employers saying that it is important to be a great leader. Fortunate enough for me, marching band taught me how to be an effective leader. After a few years in marching band, I was chosen to be the section leader of the trumpets. A position of this magnitude requires a great deal of leadership abilities, abilities at which I was not yet very proficient. In the marching band at my high school, we had an assistant band instructor who is in the Army National Guard and an assistant technician who is a former Marine.
With these two around, our band operated in a very strict manner. At first this seemed to be a bad thing because the level of intensity that was expected of us as members was extremely high. Now, looking back at my experiences, I am able to appreciate what these two gentlemen provided me. In my first year as section leader, the former marine held a three-day mini leadership camp. This camp was the groundwork for my leadership journey. I learned valuable leadership skills that I still use today.
I feel as though if it were not for the band’s high level of intensity, I most likely would not have attended a leadership camp, and I would know much less about how to be an effective leader. My roommate and former band member, Evan Morris, in an interview stated that he too felt that marching band provided him with a great deal of leadership skills. When asked about any leadership gains from being in marching band, E. Morris (personal communication, November 15, 2015) said that he “learned how to deal with people who had conflicting leadership views.
He said that he feels this is something that he will be able to carry with him as he enters the work-force. His experiences as a leader, as well as my own, are slightly different than students in other bands who had a more relaxed atmosphere. For the months of August through October, we would spend every Saturday at band competitions. We soon came to realize, as we observed the ways that other band members acted, that the way a band is operated has an impact on the students. We would notice band directors taking charge and extinguishing any spark of leadership among the students.
Although this may help their band excel at competitions, this did not teach the students anything about leadership. The thing that helped Evan and I, was being able to put our leadership knowledge into practice. Although marching band may provide every student with leadership skills, the quality of skills that each student gains depends on the quality of the music program. At my high school, there is a slight correlation between the academic standings of students and their participation in band.
For me, marching band provided direct, as well as indirect, tools to help me excel in my academics. While in marching band, I was always being told by my instructors that playing music increases your math skills and ability to learn. At the time, I always thought that my instructors were saying these things to increase morale, but now, after looking back and after researching some findings of scholars in the field, I see that playing music did have an effect on my academics.
One way that I feel marching band helped my academics indirectly was through the relationships that I made with other members of the band. Most of my friends were in band, so I was comfortable talking with them and asking them to form study groups with me. Since most of these friends were in a lot of the same classes as me, we were able to discuss tough subjects with each other so that we could better grasp hard concepts. E. Morris (personal communication, November 15, 2015) said that e felt that his involvement in marching band made his “academics easier because [he] would always have a study partner. ”
I feel that one of the hardest parts about forming study groups is finding people who are willing to work with you and have the time to work with you. Since everyone in my study groups were band members as well as close friends, it made it easy to work together. You could always find time, before or after band practice, to talk to each other. Agreeing with E. Morris, I too feel that this made my academics much easier.