I first joined marching band back as a freshman in high school in 2004. Both of my younger sisters followed suit, and one of my sisters and I both also marched in college. But after 12 years of us being a marching band-centric family each fall, that is finally coming to an end. My sisters are graduating from college and high school, respectively, this year, and so our family’s time marching has come to an end.
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Allentown, PA, to watch Spencer march in the Collegiate Marching Band Festival with the UMass marching band. The next weekend, I went home to watch Arin perform with the Lenape High School band at their annual home comp. And, I got to watch my parents be surprised by an award from the high school marching band director for 12 years of service to the music department 🙂
It’s odd, even though I’m now 4 years removed from marching myself, to think that this is it. It’s been 12 years since I first set foot on a field, and now it’s coming to an end for my whole family. To put it in perspective, when I first started marching, my youngest sister was 6 years old! I was glad to be able to watch my sisters each perform once during their last seasons; though they’ll both have more shows in the coming couple of months, I won’t be there.
So far I’m the only one of the three of us who is beyond marching band and can identify the lasting impacts of it, but most of the friends I’ve stayed in touch with are from marching band, probably due to how much time we spent together during it. It’s so easy to pick up, even after years, with other people I marched with in high school or college (and even with the directors and staff!), a bond that doesn’t exist from any other activity I participated in. And the camaraderie in the midst of such a focused and disciplined activity is hard to mimic elsewhere. But the lessons from that- the internal strength and perseverance each individual must develop, the work ethic, the time management skills, and working with and respecting others so to achieve a common goal- are tangible benefits from being in marching band that still benefit me, especially in grad school when many of these same characteristics are what define success.
My time in marching band, in the long run, was not just about the joy of marching and playing music, though that was a part of it, but also about all of the relationships I made and lessons I learned that I can carry forward throughout my life. The number of years spent marching is small compared to the rest of life, so I can only hope that my sisters have as much long-term benefit from their own marching experiences as I have. No matter what we all decide to do with the rest of our lives, marching band will always be a shared part of it, and for that I’m glad.
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