Marching Band is something that I feel many different views of this activity exist out in the social community. Some view it as a joke, others see it as an easy way out of PE, some see it as a fun activity, and others view it as a jukebox and mobile spirit unit. This has caused a marketing issue within my community as to what marching band is and what we can achieve through it. There are many students who are on campus who play an instrument in their past who do not want to make the commitment, but turn around and get upset when it is not something better. Hollywood shows band as dorks who are always practicing (we are) and are not socially competent. This hasn’t really permeated the school culture here on my campus, but the understanding that all groups work in different ways seems to be missed. In Marching Band world, October is the most important month here in AZ as that is when basically all of the competitions are within that month. While Football begins a month earlier, I personally put just as much if not more emphasis on these performances as they are a perfect chance to prepare for the ones that are outwardly graded. Explaining this however to a non-marching person is hard for them to understand.
Fighting this concept that we need stadium time too, or that we need a chance to practice getting on and off the field, or a chance to play a full show can help or hinder students. While they might look nice to you out there on the field at half; or you are bored of this annoying music and dumb looking uniform, this is their chance to apply their learning from the week in a high-pressure situation. Every Friday for 2 months, I have a high-stakes test in front of countless members of the community. I put my teaching and the teaching of my fellow staff members out for the public to see; and whether I like it or not I receive feedback on how I am doing as a teacher and coach. While this is wonderful, to community is starting to see through the cracks that is how some things are run. ‘Why are they so small?’- Well, I do not have a stable feeder program. You are right, I should have tons of kids given 5 different schools feed me. You should discuss this with their programs. ‘Why can’t we have nice things like band x?’ Well, I do not receive a budget like a few other activities and have to either charge the parents the cost, or fundraise for it. Even then, very few students are willing to participate. ‘Band Z does so much better than us, why?’- They have larger staff, students who are willing to practice outside of the school day, and a culture that is built upon giving their best. We within the MB are working to create this culture but at the end of the day, the performers (students) are the ones who have to make the commitment.
How? We need a shift in thinking. While your English class may not allow homework, or you do not value sporting events, if you say that around students enough times they too are going to believe and internalize these thoughts and then begin to feel that way too. How do I build school spirit? I am at whatever I can be and participate; is it always fun? No, but if I am seen being a part of the wolf-pack pride then I am doing my part to increase school spirit. The band alone, or Spiritline alone cannot and will not change a culture. If we want students the attend events, then we as a staff need to. If we want more people to attend a sporting game, then we need to get those teams cheering for each other. One team cannot feel they are most important and therefore everyone needs to come to them. While my students may not have the time I do encourage them to attend a play or dance concert; if they go then maybe a dancer sees them and then attends our concert to see what that is all about. If we stay in our bubble nothing increases. While spending a Saturday evening watching Marching Bands may not sound cool to you right now, what if you went? Maybe you’ll enjoy something about it and see that there are hundreds of students who are working hard.
At the end of the day, we need more respect for the hard work that all students put into their activities. While dressing up in a school colored uniform may seem dumb or lame to you; there is somebody out their fighting back pain, being a hero, feeling like there is nobody watching, and enjoying life for 8 minutes. Isn’t that worth cheering for?