The Greatest Things I Learned From Marching Band

Being in band teaches us so much more than how to play an instrument. It even teaches us much more than how to play an instrument while moving in step with others around a football field.

Life lessons are learned in band. And band directors are the givers of that education. If you were or are in marching band these will be all too familiar!

Here are 6 things that band directors teach their students:

1. Punctuality

If you’ve been in or around band any amount of time, you know that “Early is on time, On time is late, and late is unacceptable!”

Variations of this in marching band sound like: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is left behind.” or “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is running.”

Band teaches young people the value of being on time. It’s a quality that will stay with them throughout their lives.

2. Time Management and Scheduling

Because marching band requires such a large time commitment during the end of summer and fall season, students learn to balance all of their other required work and commitments around it. Homework? You have to find time between rehearsal and personal practice. In college, students have to work their class, rehearsal, and sometimes work schedules into a routine that they can follow for a semester (only to have it change the next semester).

Band is one of those activities that helps students experience what it’s like to be responsible for several spinning plates. To keep all of those plates spinning young people learn to manage their time!

3. Sportsmanship and Family

Although, marching band can be a competitive activity between schools, when all the dust settles at the end of the day, band teachs students to applaud one another. There is much respect and appreciation shared between even the most bitter school rival bands.

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Band also creates a family unit within the school. Hundreds of kids can feel connected to a group before they even walk through the doors at the beginning of a school year because they are all part of the band family. And at a larger level, bands from all across the nation feel like they are connected to a bigger, band family. Especially with the advent of the social media age. Young people are connecting to folks just like them all over the country (and world).

4. Teamwork

Although there are solos, and section features, the overall approach of band is to present the entire ensemble. It’s a unified approach. In a marching band there are typically no varsity or junior varsity squads. The whole band takes the field together and presents an entertainment experience for the audience as a big family.

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To make this happen students have to learn to work with the person next to them. Although they learn individual placements on the field (called dots or marks within a shape), they also learn to “dress the form” – that means even if they know where their dot is, if the whole form is a little off, that they also compensate and make sure lines are straight or curves are smooth.

5. Respect for Authority

In marching band there are band directors, assistant directors, drum majors, section leaders (captains). All of these are levels of authority that students learn to respect and appreciate. And if so desired, the students can become those along the way.

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Many times constructive criticism comes from these positions of authority. If a young adult cannot respond well to these critiques and instructions to change them, they will not last in the band. Students that learn to adapt and change for the benefit of the section and band learn that authority is a good thing. And in the right situations being able to take criticism will open many doors for you.

6. Checking Your Ego at the Door

The bottom line is that marching band is a team sport. Hours of enduring the heat, and physical activity on the practice field day in and day out to develop a half time or competition show require the band member to put their personal pride aside, and to learn how to interact with authority and their peers in a reasonable and mature manner.

Learning to put the good of the family ahead of your own whims is important! Don’t like silly hats and funny pants? In marching band, you learn that at an indivudal level you might feel silly, but as a unit, the entire band looks SHARP!

Memorizing music, learning your drill, and being early for rehearsal are all ways that young adults begin to exhibit this ego-checking. You didn’t get section leader or first chair? That’s ok, it’s all about the music!

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BONUS LESSON:

“One more time!” really means “We’re going to keep doing this again and again until we reach a high standard of excellence!!

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Inspired by the post by called Invaluable Lessons All Marching Band Directors Teach Their Students

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