Ten Things I Learned from Marching Band


Mia Payette, Contributor

 Don’t Expect Anything 

Coming into high school I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know that I would be in the marching band. I soon found out Sahuaro didn’t have a band teacher, and therefore they didn’t have a marching band. Luckily, the kids who still had a passion for marching band put together a pep band, and I experienced what it was like to play in the stands on Friday nights. This year I expected a normal marching band experience now that Sahuaro had a teacher. I was expecting to go to competitions, perform more songs, and be a part of a bigger band, but unfortunately none of that happened. Sahuaro is in the process of rebuilding the marching band program, and I’ve learned not to expect a normal marching band year in my time at Sahuaro. 

Go With the Flow 

Everything can change in a second and I had to learn to be flexible. This year at the TUSD Marching Band Exhibition Sahuaro was supposed to be the third band to perform. Once we got to Pueblo, where it was being hosted, we were told we might be the second band performing. That quickly changed when we got to our spot in the stands and were told we were going first. We were all nervous, but we had to be brave and go with the flow. That was also the first run of our show outside of practice. I have also learned to go with the flow when I’m at another school. Things are always changing at away games, and I need to be alert so I know what is going to happen next. 

Don’t Take Things So Seriously 

When I’m passionate about something I take it very seriously. This is a good quality to have, but I don’t have to take things as seriously as I have been. Especially marching band. I have been told countless times to move around and smile more in the stands. I tend to become a statue in the bleachers because I’m focusing on staying in time and playing everything correctly. I had to learn to loosen up and find a balance of focusing and having fun. I learned to groove with the music, smile, and have fun when I’m performing. I take marching band seriously, but I’m also in it to have fun and a good time. 

How to Work in a Group 

I’ve learned how to be a part of a group over my many years in band, but in marching band, I’ve learned even more. In any band you learn to play with others and combine to have a cohesive sound, and that also applies to marching band. I’ve also learned even more about how to be in time and move as a group. A big part of performing on the field is to look like one unit. If someone moves the wrong way or is out of time, the band doesn’t look together. Working specifically in my section has also taught me plenty about working in a group. A lot of times the drum line separates from the band, and because of this I’ve learned to look out for the other members in my section. We make sure we travel together, we help each other get ready to perform, and we all help each other with our music and equipment. 

Everybody Matters 

Sahuaro has a small band, and because of this, it means every member we have is needed. This year we only had two people playing each instrument at most. That meant that when someone wasn’t there we could not only hear and see it, but we could also feel it. Everyone in our band adds something and everyone’s personality is appreciated. When we’re missing people at games or rehearsals our spirits drop. Hakuna Matata, the song we played this year, had almost every instrument playing an important part. Whether it was something as simple as a cymbal hit, or something bigger like the piccolo at the beginning, they all added something important to the sound, and when we were missing them, it was clear just how much everybody mattered. 

How to be a Good Leader 

I applied to be a section leader because I was inspired by the leadership I saw from the seniors last year. From having my leadership position I’ve learned how to pay attention and make sure everybody is ready at rehearsal and during game days. I had to lead rehearsals and set an example for how to play something, how to march correctly, and how to have good form. I also had to learn things specific to my role as drum captain. One of those tasks was keeping the band in time as we walked onto the field. I learned how to take responsibility and represent the band and my section. I advocated for things my section needed and shared my ideas for how we could improve our band. I overall learned how to take charge and be a role model for the other members in my band. 

You are Responsible for Yourself 

Marching band is a group effort, but that can only be done if every member puts in the work. We memorize our music and our spots on the field. No one can make us practice and come to rehearsal to l

earn our drill, so we’re all responsible for practicing our music on our own time and coming to rehearsals. When someone doesn’t know what they’re doing it’s obvious on the field. This year we’ve had to hold back on doing more because not everyone knew their music or was at every rehearsal to learn our show.  I’ve learned a lot of self-discipline this year and it’s helped me be a better band member and be more responsible. 

Don’t Compare 

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I frequently compared myself and Sahuaro’s marching band to other musicians and other marching bands, but I’ve had to learn to stop because it’s not fair to compare myself and the band when our situation is different from every other school. Last year we just came back from the online school year, we didn’t have a band teacher for a whole semester, and we barely had any students in the band classes. All music programs have been affected, but most schools have recovered. Unfortunately, Sahuaro is still recovering, and we are rebuilding what was destroyed in the last 2 years. During the game at Sabino, I got to witness their band. They had a ton of members and a good show. I quickly realized that instead of comparing our band to theirs, I should admire them and gain inspiration. This year a majority of our band was new to marching band. Most schools don’t have a completely new marching band, so it’s not equal to compare Sahuaro’s band because of the different experiences we’ve had. 

Take Pride in what you do 

I used to be ashamed of being in the marching band because of our size and abilities. Last year I encountered people mocking us and saying rude things. This year I’ve also heard some rude comments and questions about what happened to the marching band. I used to let those comments get under my skin, but I’ve learned to deal with them. Hate is a big part of life, and everyone isn’t always going to be nice. Instead of being ashamed, I’ve learned to take pride and be proud of what I do. There are countless people who do support the band and enjoy the music we play. We’ve had to limit how much we play at pep assemblies because students wouldn’t go to class. I’ve learned to focus on the positives and be confident about being in the marching band and being a part of a unique group. 

Live in the Moment 

I only get four years of high school and four years of marching band. There are only so many practices and so many Friday nights before it’s my last. I’ve learned to have fun and savor the moment because it doesn’t last forever. I cherish the time I have with the seniors because they don’t come back next year. I’ve savored every day of band camp no matter how tired I was. I’ve taken all the pictures I’ve wanted to take because I love looking back and remembering the moments. Some days are tough, but I’ve learned to enjoy every moment and live in them because once they’re gone, I can’t go back, so I play every fight song like it’s my last time, and I appreciate every bus ride because the next one isn’t guaranteed.