At the football game, with the band once more. Being the homecoming game, the entire student body is dressed in school spirit clothes galore, and visiting Marching Band alumni come back to the football stands to talk with their old professors, as well as play in the stands with their old friends once more. The Director herself picks up a snare drum – having always been an expert percussionist – and jams out with current and former students alike.
Then comes halftime, and it’s obvious that none of these fine football spectators know just what goes into making the band. They don’t know about the long hours we spend outside practicing, they don’t know about the frustration, endurance tests, and hard work we undergo. Sure, some of them can imagine so, but some can also not. At the competition football field, everyone quieted down as soon as each competing band entered the field. Here, the rattle only grows louder when music stops blasting over the PA. The band is dressed in their professional uniforms for the occassion, the drum major features a delightful black dress, the Color Guard is looking their best. This is our time to show everyone what we’ve been working so hard towards, another chance to demonstrate our latest marching skills to the public.
Yet, we know for a fact that this crowd could care less about the band. Of course they appreciate that the school has a marching band to lead them in football game halftime shows – but they’re not at the football game to watch a band. They’re not here to watch halftime (which in my opinion, is a waste of a break between quarters). So, what is the function of our performance?
To practice. The crowd that will be watching us is at competitions, at concerts, at college football games. And when a sabre tosser fails to catch her sword; instantly I hear an “Oh!” from the crowd. She knows very well what she’s doing, though, and she quickly picks up the sword with a grace that made it look like the toss was part of the performance. In that instant, I saw the role of disinterested peoples’ ignorance in determination. This isn’t an attack on football game spectators – but the reality is, as I mentioned before, the audience doesn’t know what goes into learning that toss. They haven’t the slightest about how the marching is organized, about the theme behind the three Movements … and yet, it is that very same ineptitude, dare I say, of common people, that keeps the marching band so committed. The simple fact that every brass player, every percussionist, every Color Guard member is out there breaking their backs, doing their best to ensure the best performance yet, knowing full well the crowd knows little to nothing about the virtue, about the hard work that goes into marching – is the most unwavering demonstration of their passion for the sport, of their commitment to their team and their profession.
We exit the football field, our school having won 48 – 8, and our halftime show having been the best performance yet. “Piano Man” plays over the loudspeaker (which in retrospect was a very poor choice of a victory song) as we dawdle towards the buses on our way back home.