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Some advice for band rookies

Here is a blog post that Mr. Hunter found and wanted to share with the new band members.  The original post can be found here.

Dear freshies/newbies/twinkies/whatever your band calls you—

This is my advice to you, as someone who stuck through marching band for four years. These are some of the things I wished people had told me.

  • Your body will not like band. Well, it probably won’t. Because, you see, your body really doesn’t want to stand up perfectly straight, hold a 3-pound instrument so that it points at a press box for eight minutes, point its toes up so that people could read a note at the bottom of your shoe, bend itself in weird ways so that your shoulders are always pointed towards the front, or any number of the other strange things you do in band. Just because your muscles are sore or because it’s harder for you to do a shift/slide/whatever or because you have problems holding your horn up doesn’t make you any less of a person or any worse of a member. It just means you have to push harder.
  • Memorize your music BEFORE band camp, if at all possible. You’ve probably been told this a lot, but here is why it is incredibly important- if you get the Timbale lessons to the point where it’s memorized and you don’t have to focus on it, it will make putting it with the drill that much easier. It will also make it easier to stay in step, figure out where the set changes are, and it is just generally a good idea.
  • Never say ‘I can’t’. Never. Ever. Ever. Because you can.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seriously. Your leaders are there for a reason. They’ve been doing this for a while and they know the ropes. If you aren’t comfortable asking a leader, ask a returning member or even a staff member. They want you to succeed, if not for yourself then at least because it makes them look good. If you’re struggling with a particular fundamental or a section of music or a visual or even just a personal problem, ask for help. And my ask box is always open.
  • You will probably be the weakest link. And that’s okay. You’re new at this and even the best marchers in the world started exactly where you are today. Don’t let the fact that you may struggle with faces or mark time or backwards marching or whatever bring you down to the point where you convince yourself that you can’t do it. Push through it. Never give up.
  • Never, ever, ever give up.
  • Don’t listen to the people in your school who say band sucks. Every school has them, let’s face it. Don’t listen to them. But also don’t freak out at them- that’s what they want. Just ignore them, even though you probably want to punch them in the face with a sousaphone or something. Ignore them and let your rage fuel you to kick butt on the field.
  • Give EVERY run-through your all. Not just competitions and football games. If you don’t get in the habit of putting everything you have into the show at practices, you won’t do it when you really need to. Treat every run through like you are performing.
  • Perform. This is an art. Perform it like it is. Perform for your parents, for your director, for the people in the crowd, whatever. Perform for all marching band kids, past, present, and future. Perform for yourself, because there is nothing that compares to the feeling you get when you give EVERYTHING you have to the audience and they eat it up. Just perform.
  • Don’t stare at the ground. I’m not telling you that you need to watch the drum major(s), because that’s probably a lost cause. You SHOULD watch the drum major(s), but that’s another thing entirely. I’m also not telling you this simply because it looks bad (which it does). I’m telling you this because you need to be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s all well and great to be on your dot. But when everyone else is a yard line off (this probably won’t happen but you never know), you’ll look wrong. Also, you never know if someone is going to fall or go the wrong direction because they skipped a set. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on around you, you could seriously hurt yourself or others. Don’t look at the ground. It’s not going anywhere.
  • Enjoy this. Don’t let the drama and the politics of band make you forget why you’re there. Enjoy it, because it will be over before you know it and you’ll realize that it was such a huge part of what makes you who you are.

There’s a lot more I could put. But that would require a lot more time than I have.


Val, Mellophone player