Marching Band Horror Stories

Do These People Look Like They're Having Fun?

For our last show of last year's football season, we were forced to march in some "lovely" conditions. It had been raining since the night before the game, and the temperature was a "balmy" 45 degrees F. Since the game was in Little Rock, we usually would leave Fayetteville for the game around 4 in the morning. Needless to say, everyone was looking forward to this day. We arrived at the high school where we would practice around 7:45am. Our director swiftly guided us into the high school's gymnasium where we warmed up. Then after effectively postponing the agony until the downpour had started, we proceeded outside to the football field. Of course, all of the woodwinds got to put up their horns, leaving the brass and the percussion to carry the band. Two minutes after starting the show, the field was one giant mud pit, with occasional lakes of rainwater to add genuine misery to the experience. To top it all off, for me anyway, I was forced to high mark time in the center of the worst puddle out there. I swear that it was almost five inches deep. Well after about another hour, the director decided that we just weren't going to be able to get it right under these conditions, so we made our way back to the gymnasium were we changed for the game. Luckily for us, the rain died down to a drizzle, but just to keep things interesting, the temperature dropped to around 37 degrees. But to wrap it all up, after waiting through the game till half-time, just to see if we would perform (which we did), the director came back and told us that it was a good "effort". AAAUUUGGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was Homecoming of my senior year at Washington High in Sioux Falls. This was going to be the last performance for all of the seniors so we all were intending to make it memorable. But, it looked like the game might get had been raining almost constantly the last week so the field was pretty soft. Plus, the field is shared by three high schools and two colleges, two of the high schools and one of the colleges were all having Homecoming on the same weekend -- one game Thursday, one Friday and one Saturday. Ours was the Friday game. Well, after the Thursday game, the field was in pretty bad shape, but they decided to let us do our game there anyways. After the first half of the game the field was basically one giant mud wrestling pit.

Our director decided that, even though the field was in such bad shape, the show must go on! So, he told us that we were going to march in our street clothes to do the show. Since we were not in uniform, we convinced him to do a run on, rather than the formal march onto the field. After he agreed, we all got set to go and started to get really excited. When the time came, we all took off, and I thought that since it was my last show, I would make it special. I was the first one to my spot, so I had my chance -- I raised my horn above my head, and did a graceful slide into my position. Or, at least it was graceful for a few feet, then my feet got stuck about 2 inches deep in mud, and I was moving so fast, that I went face first into the mud! Wouldn't have been so bad except -- I was the soloist for that show!


  • Colin Roust
  • Euphonium
  • University of Missouri

  • In high school, I was a member of the award-winning Mater Dei High School Marching Monarchs in Southern California. The band was military style, and discipline was very strict. We weren't allowed to blink, scratch, or breathe, but we won lots of sweepstakes awards. One evening, we were lined up in block-band formation beyond the end-zone of the football field, preparing to step out for the pregame show. The teams were exchanging warm-up field-goal kicks. Suddenly, from around the bell of my brand-new brass sousaphone, I thought I glimpsed the shadow of a football heading my direction, but it disappeared quickly in the stadium lights and I knew I'd be in BIG trouble if I flinched in formation. A split-second later, the football crashed into my sousaphone, slamming the mouthpiece into my face--chipping a front tooth. The assistant band director, assessing the horrible damage to the sousaphone bell, was all over me like the smell of cheap perfume! You just can't win!


  • Mike Brosius

  • It was my senior year in high school. Marching season was just getting under steam and I was first chair. We were rehearsing when our assistant director instructed us to run to our starting point. I managed to stick my foot in a hole that had appeared from nowhere, but managed to save the horn (too bad - a Conn mellophone) when I took the fall. I had wrenched my ankle some so I asked the assistant if I could fall out for a bit. The response was - if you can walk, you can't fall out - so I dealt with the pain through the rest of the afternoon.

    When I got home, my shoe wouldn't come off due to the swelling - so it was off to the E.R. to have it looked at. Sure enough, enough ligaments were messed up that it had to go in a cast for six weeks. When I got home that evening, I called said assistant and told him, "you know that foot that you wouldn't let me fall out for? Well, now it's in a cast for six weeks." Boy, did he feel guilty the rest of the year, and quite frankly I enjoyed it.


  • Ron Boerger

  • This past season the Miami University Marching Band went to perform at a High School band show. The week before we had to adjust to working with high school hash marks, it was assumed to the director and the band that there would be no college lines. Well we got to the show and not only were there high school hashes but there were also college and pro. I don't know of any bands that us pro-lines anyways. The long of it was t hat the band couldn't do a straight line to save our souls but some how diagonals worked. Even though we thought it was one of the worse performances by our band the crowd didn't even notice that half of our lines were off by about four steps.


  • Candace Bundy

  • Two years ago, I was marching ahead of the bass drum. The whole band is marching forward, and on a certain count every other column is to do a to-the-rear. [This is a military band. A to-the-rear is when you spin 180 on 1 count] The bass drummer forgot to count. I to-the-reared and she didn't, so we hit each other. My horn was demolished and the drum cut a large gash in the back of my left hand. Besides being one accident, the whole band was marching pretty bad that day. Our director sent us in and yelled at us for a while. I was scared to ask to go get a band-aid, so I took a bunch of music and tried to stop the bleeding. It took about half an hour and 5 pop tunes.


    Shane McLaughlin

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