Why Some People Don't Like Marching Band and What Directors can do about it



There are three types of musicians, those that hate marching band, those that like marching band, and those that don't give a flying flip. In other words, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Seriously, it's a matter of personal choice. Personally, I choose not to like it.

Is it really a choice?

Yes and no. Some people (like me) have no choice whether or not to participate. This lack of option makes some people resent it to begin with. The director has a lot to do with it, too. Some just don't care. The band goes to opt, the kids never succeed, and they grow to hate it. And then, there are the band directors who go overboard. Winning is everything. They rehearse the poor kids constantly. At least 2 hours after school everyday, rehearsal on game days until there's barely time to eat and get dressed. Then they are really restricted in the stands and are at the mercy of section leaders for the night. When they get back to the school, the director talks forever and analyzes the show, and the kids don't leave until 11:30 or midnight when they should be home by 10:45. That next Saturday is a six hour rehearsal starting at 8 AM. This really gets to be too much altogether. Now that you've probably guessed which one I come from, I will end this subject by saying rehearsal conditions alone can be the deciding factor on whether or not someone likes to march.


Where you come into it

Character and ability play a role in how one views marching band. Marching band requires a lot of discipline and some people can't do that. In high school, peers are designated as leaders. This is hard for some people to accept, especially if those leaders become zealous and go overboard (which is the norm). Some people can't work for long periods of time without rest, and others simply can't deal with the authority figures.

Some people lack the ability to march and play will. I can say that I have tried very hard and put a lot of effort into marching. This has helped very little. God has blessed me richly with many things, but coordination is not one of them. I've never really needed it before until marching band. When one is incapable of doing something, and is forced to do it anyway with high expectations, the joy is gone. This hurts the band. Can't fit a square peg into a round hole without doing damage to both.


What directors can do to make it easier

Give some choices. If you can tell the kid's heart isn't in it, give them something else to do. Students could help load stuff on and off the field and set up equipment. Maybe he or she could play on the sidelines. There are many jobs associated with marching band besides playing and marching on the field.

Make it enjoyable. Don't be an ogre. The time you spend yelling could be spent teaching, and the kids don't resent you so much. Give them a few water breaks, maybe give them some treats when they accomplish something, but don't make the main focus on winning. Make it on doing well.

When you appoint a section leader or other peer leaders,, keep tabs on them. Limit their power. Kids have no business bossing around other kids. It only makes bad situations worse. To keep things from going sour, don't overwork the kids. When there's a competition, don't rehearse them until you board the buses. Let them have time to themselves. They have at least 4 to 6 more classes to worry about, and sometimes they might have an hour or more of homework in all of them. It is also vital that they have a social life. Some teachers view this as unimportant, but learning about the real world is just as important as learning stuff out of books. Some kids also have jobs, and trying to fit everything together is really hard. Ask that they try to get out of work for rehearsal, but only if you show them the courtesy of two weeks notice so they can do it. Generally, put yourself in their situation and visualize everything your students need and what their conflicts are. Having respect for them will generate more for you.

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