Marching band is a unique experience for everyone. But I want to tell you about my personal experience.
As we've all likely seen due to the many long hours of practices and trips together, your fellow members become family. Yes, this inherently takes in all the drama that comes with it. You laugh together, cry together. But most of all you make memories together. Each band family is unique. Some are larger than others while different groups will have distinct traditions. I was lucky enough to be a part of two different families while in high school as I marched for two years each with the Angola Marching Hornets ('01-'02) and the Homestead Spartan Alliance Band ('03-'04).
As one might expect, these two groups were very different from each other, with Angola being in Class C and Homestead in Class A. Angola at the time fielded around 90 marching members while Homestead was over 270. What a culture shock. but more on that in a moment. Both were still top contenders in their respective classes despite having differing ideologies on how to reach success. So what different experiences did I have with each?
The first and most obvious difference to me when I switched schools was the length of band camp. Whereas Angola had a very intense 8am to 9pm week long camp, Homestead had an extended band camp running for three weeks, albeit with fewer rehearsal hours in a day. This was a bit of a paradigm shift but it actually helped me greatly in acclimating to my new school. Homestead, being a little over twice the size of Angola, was a daunting spectacle. Because of the longer band camp, I was able to get to know people and make friends over an extended period of time.before school actually started for the year.
Another evident difference between the two schools was the band size. At Homestead, my section alone (clarinets) was about half the size of the band I had previously come from! Homestead's band was larger than my entire graduating class at Angola. With only two years at this school, I was sadly never able to get to know everyone in the band let alone everyone's name. It could be argued that the smaller the band, the closer the family feel is, but I loved both of my band families.
When I received the music for Homestead's 2003 show, I immediately could tell that I was in for a big change as well due to the increased difficulty as well. While both groups were successful, it was clear that the caliber of music and eventually high drill demand were on completely different levels. The staff we had was excellent though and truly helped us learn and perfect the music.
Not all was different though as there were some consistencies between each group.
The bus rides were still a blast. They probably are the same way today.
It was always the saxophones or trumpets fault.
There were traditions in each band that persisted throughout my time at each school. Each was unique yet the same in their own way. Football games had their similarities especially.
Doing a run-through of the show (especially in the rain) was still an intense feeling. Some of the best and most epic performances I can remember were split between the two bands, whether it was from a night practice or a rainy day where everyone was ecstatic just to still be there. What a feeling that was.
But most of all, we were still family. Even though I was new while coming into Homestead, I wasn't made to feel left out but rather welcomed with open arms.
For anyone that may have to change schools, know that there will be a contrast of how things are done but that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Expect some things to remain the same, but be prepared to take on new challenges.
Be yourself and remember that band is a family. Meet some new friends! Your experiences will last you a lifetime. And even though we all may come from different backgrounds, we each love the activity even when there are subtle differences in the way a program approaches to it.
If you need help in transitioning to a new band, or would like advice, shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. And don't be shy, we're all family here!