Narrative/Thoughts Final Draft
Marching Band: Seven Lessons and more
Marching band—to some a joke—but to others, such as myself, a part of life. During the marching season, I eat, sleep, and breathe the music and melodies. No matter what you think or say about it, won't change the way I view it. I know that in the future, when I graduate from high school and college, I won't remember the classes I took, or the things I did; I'll remember the memories I made. When I graduate with the class of 2012, I will be able to keep my high school marching band memories close. I know that when I leave, nothing else will matter, except the memories I take away, and the impression I leave behind.
The dictionary definition of a marching band is "a group of instrumental musicians, who generally perform outdoors, with movement such as marching, put to their music." In all honesty, it's so much more; if you think about it, it's really a group of 'friends' or peers who work together to achieve a common goal over a period of time. During the season we have our ups and downs, and we see each other at our best and worst. Of course, like in every other activity, we get sick of each other, and sick of the program, but we learn to push through and by the end we're glad we did. You're happy because you know it's worth it, you're happy because you love the thrill of the performance, and you're happy because you love doing it.
Marching band is much like other sports teams and clubs, in the sense that it's physical activity and effort is required. The one thing that makes band so different from these other activities is the combination of both a sport, and the arts. It's a sport because of the marching, and an art because of the musical composition and emotion each individual puts in.
As a group of peer, that's how we all start at least, we learn to work together. By working together, we build trust in one another, and ideally we become 'friends.' Soon after that, we learn to love and care for each other so much that we become family in our sections. Being close is only the first step though. As individual sections within the band, we must learn to depend on other sections, and work as one band. Depending on each other for help and support, we learn to push one another to improve. We've seen each other at our best and worst; we've picked each other up when we're down, and we've helped each other learn and grow.
Throughout my soon to be four years of marching band, I've learned that there are so many lessons that you're taught; both by others and you yourself. I've gone through a list and have narrowed it down to a select few. I've compiled seven of the most important lessons that I've been taught, and that I have taught; respect, dedication, goal, family, tolerance, leadership, and confidence.
"Respect: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability."
By far, the most important lesson that can be taught by any program is respect. A seven letter word, that teaches you to appreciate and love what you're able to do. Marching band teaches you to respect others, yourself, and everything you do. As an incoming member of any marching band, respect is one lesson that must be learned. In giving respect to others, we receive respect from them. To succeed in a marching band, every member must learn to respect their instructors and teachers, their leaders, their teammates, and themselves. Once these three components of respect are learned, moving forward in marching band is easy.
Throughout my few years of marching band, I've learned to love and respect the band, and its participants. I also learned to respect myself, and to be proud of what I can do and what I'm good at. This 'value' didn't just come to me when I joined band; I was taught respect from one important person. His name's Russell Reuter, our visual director at the time. He taught me to respect what I do and love it; he inspired me to always want to be better than what I am, and to always strive for my goals. My freshman year I was despised because I showed no respect for anyone or myself, but throughout the year and the following marching season, I began to take a liking to Russell and his long winded inspiring speeches about life values and importance.
"Dedication: wholly committed to something, as to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal"
A requirement for any marching band member is commitment and dedication. In band, the word dedication can be associated with two things: time and effort. Any member of any activity must be willing to enough to put in as much time as necessary to better themselves at it. Countless hours of summer rehearsals and Monday night's, are usually a common time frames to be associated with the West De Pere High School Band. To be able to dedicate yourself to an activity that is so, for lack of a better word, needy, is incredibly hard. With time alone, success won't come. It's essential to put in effort as well, meaning the time will be used as wisely as possible. If there is no effort, no desire to learn, you cannot teach. You cannot teach someone who is resentful towards what your teaching, otherwise it's not called learning. When both time and effort are put into a marching band, there is dedication. There is an improvement shown, and meaning put behind everything you do.
"Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end."
To be one marching band, everyone must work together to achieve one common goal. In the beginning of the season, simple goals are set, such as learn to march, or learn to play my instrument. As the season progresses, each member begins to set individual goals that apply to their part in the show. By achieving those individual goals, members are doing their job in developing the band. Once a marching band has reached this point, they begin to perfect and strive for bigger and more difficult goals. Without goals, life wouldn't be very structured; without goals a marching band would crumble.
"Family: a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together"
"Friend: a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter"
Working as one is different than being one. Being one band, isn't the easiest thing to do, because there will always be diverse people in the program. In a marching band, it's important that band mates know one another on a level of friendship. The best thing about a marching band is its element of family and belonging. Families stick together no matter what, through thick and thin, ups and downs. When part of a marching band, there's no such thing as out of place; everyone fits in somewhere. Having such a diverse amount of individuals, is quite an amazing thing if everyone learns to love one another like family. Working, living, and being one band, is a lot easier if people are close.
This past season, it took all five months of band, for our marching band to become an 'actual' family. At our last completion in Minnesota, we all realized that our hard work and dedication paid off, when we made it to finals. After we performed for the last time that night, we all felt so close and everything was fitting into place. That moment it didn't matter to us weather we won or lost, we were one for the first time in a long time.
Later on that night, when we headed out to put our uniforms away, Russell was giving one of his speeches, but this one was different. It didn't occur to me why everyone was crying, until I noticed that, Russell was leaving. He'd been with us so long, and now he was leaving. I wasn't sure how to react, and I started to cry along with everyone else. We were all holding one another trying to comfort our 'family' members. He had taught us all so much, and now he was leaving. It just didn't feel right, but it was true. He kept telling us, "You all have to be brave and put one foot in front of the other and move on." Those words settled into my mind, and still stick to this day.
That night, I realized how much I took that one moment of becoming one, that one performance, for granted. Being a family with everyone around me just felt so natural, and now one of our family members was leaving. I learned how quickly a family, like a marching band, can become one. I learned that being a family isn't easy, but no matter what happens you all have to muster up the courage to push through together. That night will remain as an important memory for me and for everyone else standing there in that circle. I [we] will never forget Russell Reuter, for he's taught me [us] so much about life and the importance you play in it.
"Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own."
This lesson may seem out of the ordinary, but it's quite important. During the summer camps, there are all kinds of incoming member, and to perform at a level of excellence, we must teach them what we know. Every year, it's a new band, new members, new music, new show; it changes. For a band to start off, tolerance is needed by every member. Older members must be tolerant, and take the time to teach and develop the skills of the new members, and the new members must be tolerant, and take the time to learn and develop their skills. Although tolerance seems like a simple concept, it's one of the hardest lessons for any member of a marching band to learn.
"Leadership:an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction"
In a marching band, it is so vital that you have leaders. Out of all the members in a section, one section leader is chosen. It is that person's job to lead their section and make sure that they develop and grow as they should throughout the season. Out of all the members in one section, the section leader is 'in charge', but that doesn't stop other members from becoming leaders and taking on the responsibilities. A leader is anyone out of everyone who can guide, or teach, or show that they aren't afraid to do anything. Their confident in what they do and how they do it. From watching and admiring leaders of the past, new members step forward and show that they can lead to. Without leadership, without leaders, you have no marching band.
"Confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing"
Confidence is fundamental when it comes to marching band. When a band is out on a field and they perform, people can usually tell if they know what they're doing, based upon their sense of confidence. Any band member must show confidence even if they're not, even if they have no idea what they're music is, they must show it. With confidence, comes assurance within the band, and within yourself. Self-confidence is the greatest factor in performing a show. If a band can present their show in a way that awes an audience, a judge, or a director, it means that there is confidence building. Once each member of the marching band has found their self-confidence, then the whole band can move forward towards perfection.
Ever since I was a freshman, I have been told, "When you make a mistake make it loud and noticeable, otherwise it's not fixable." Since then I've come along way, I'm no longer afraid to be wrong, or make a mistake, because I know I have others to help point out and teach me how to correct it. Even if I have no idea, what I'm doing, I've learned to look as though I do with confidence. Through gaining confidence and learning from my mistakes, I also learned to lead.
My sophomore year, I always looked up to my section leader, Dillon Grabski, a past graduate of West De Pere High School. He was so musically gifted, and I admired it. His talents amazed me and inspired me to set a goal I still look up to. I want to be able to live up to Dillon and his talents. I want to be a section leader just like him.
Leadership is something that, I believe, every band member should strive for, and desire. With leadership, you're able to stand up for what you know, say, and what you stand for. Like Dwight Eisenhower once said, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
Russell played a part in teaching me the importance of a leader. You must stand up and in a sense 'show off,' or, gain credibility so that you gain respect. You need to be able to have a say, and not be afraid of your own voice. I believe that leaders aren't born, for the reason that anyone can become one. Everyone at one point in their life has at least a moment of leadership, but it's those who strive and work towards that moment again, that become leaders.
Marching band is not only these seven 'values,' it's so much more. It's a way of life and most importantly a teacher. When put together, all these 'values' add up to one thing, growth. Growth, in marching band, means shown improvement. It's a simple way to show people that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. It's a way to show how far you've come, and what new goals you want to achieve. Marching band is simply growth, in your skill, your life, and your memories.
In this program, I've learned so much. I've grown and grown, and I still have goals I haven't accomplished. Every year, I set new standards and I try to live up to them. I never know what to expect, and I don't know who I'm going to meet along my way; for me, band is life. It's a journey in its self that I have yet to finish. It's a journey that will end with tears, it's a journey that will end with love, and it's a journey that will last forever in my memories.
HGHS Section Leader Essay
Kevin Beson - Bb Clarinet
For the last two years the Clarinet Section has had all sorts of issues, from little issues to not having a section leader at all. A Section Leaders supposed to be the person that's looked up to in the section and the one to go to for help and advice, the one that settles problems with in the section, and keeps the section focused when working. The section easily falls apart if there isn't there to do any of these jobs. Some Section Leaders haven't been the most inspiring person either, they could easily be the people that make you think about weather you really want to be in marching band or not.
One Change that could be made is how the section leaders should be more positive in their teachings, to encourage everyone to keep trying, and not just give up if you mess up. People generally work better when in a good mood, so we shouldn't tell them that was horrible and just leave, we need to encourage them to do better and try harder.
I believe that Pride has a lot to do with being positive. You could be in a Group but not care for it what so ever, or you can be positive, and be like "Yeah! I'm part of the band at HGHS!!" and being this way would help some people decide weather Marching band is something they really want to do in High School. Seeing people having pride in the band could change how some people think about the band.
The Role of a Section leader should be to help people with their Marching and Music so that they can perform as well as they can, to keep the section focused in sectionals, and to lead the section so that progress can be made on the music and marching skills and keep everyone from goofing off, and not working on music and marching.
My greatest challenge for being section leader would most likely be that I have to be the one that's out there, the one that the attentions going to be on and there's not going to be someone else there to draw some of the attention away from me. I don't believe it's something you can practice and get over that easily, you just have to do it, and eventually it won't be such an issue for me, because I've always been people who avoid sticking out and being the leader.
I don't believe that we have had effective sectionals in the past, my freshmen year we would work for a while then we would goof off the rest of the time, then in my sophomore year we were not really doing anything, just run through the music once or twice, and we would spend the rest of the time not doing anything, then my junior year we would work all the parts that we were supposed to work on and then we would take a break. I believe that we need to stay focused on what were supposed to be working on, and keep working on a section even if it is pretty good and take less breaks, and spend less time just sitting there.
The Clarinets need a Section leader who will bring Focus, Positive thinking, and unity to the section, instead of being that section with all the issues, as it has been the last two years.