Childhood Memories Friday: Marching Band

Yeah, so I know it’s not Friday, but this is so current I had to post today. Why? My oldest daughter just happens to be the best flute (of course I’m objective) in the Homestead Spartan Alliance Marching Band, which won the Class A state championship¬† for Indiana on Saturday night.

homestead spartan alliance marching band 2011 championsI could just look back and shake my head. Because, when I was in high school, marching band was not near and dear to my heart. I played oboe, and I learned that oboes could not march. I’m assuming this was because oboes have very delicate, expensive reeds that protrude approximately 3″ from the instrument, making it quite a challenge to march and play at the same time.

But whatever the reason, neither I nor the other two oboists, Becky and Mary, wanted to be in marching band. To do so would require us to either 1)learn another instrument, or 2)be flag girls.

I already played oboe and piano, and put a lot of time in on each. I even played a mean recorder, if you went all the way back to fifth grade. I really didn’t feel the need to conquer the saxophone as well (that was the suggested instrument). And “flag girls” were a new phenomena in the early 1980s, far from the glitzy “guards” today. Back then, flags was the repository for those who couldn’t play their instruments while marching or those who weren’t sufficiently popular and/or coordinated to become the envied majorettes. We even had a few flag boys, which I remember seeming absolutely scandalous at the time (“They have to wear pantyhose!”).

Becky, Mary and I went to the band director and asked him if we could bow out of marching band and just re-join band during concert season. I remember him kind of shaking his head, smiling, and saying that that was not an option (maybe because a bunch of others wanted to do the same thing?).

Anyway, I did really enjoy playing oboe, and so I proved that devotion by suffering though 4 years of nightly rehearsals in the southern Indiana heat and humidity, as well as the snow-flying Christmas parades, all to perfect the art of whipping a flag around. I wore white satin shorts and white boots with huge purple pom poms. I was quite a sight.

But life has a way of bringing things full circle. A year ago, my daughter didn’t want to join marching band. But then, in the spring she had a change of heart. Now, she’s as big a fan of marching band as I wasn’t.

Countless hours and hundreds of run-throughs later, she has a whole new group of friends and is a state champion.

Congratulations, Homestead!

Another daughter is a big fan of a sport (cross country) – another thing I’d have never chosen.

So what about you? Band or choir? Or none of the above? Do your kids love the same things you did as a child?



7 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Marching Band

  1. Our marching band let oboes play – we even had a couple of bassoons. (But they wouldn’t let flutes into jazz band – go figure.) Our high school had one of the best marching bands in our class in the region – we were a tiny school and didn’t have a field band, so our director focused on the parade routines and concerts – both of which were mandatory. I used to spend much of my “down time” at the various pageants watching the field bands – they were always incredible.

  2. congratulations to your daughter! This was very well done and quite enjoyable, and I love how the flag girls were pretty, like a flock of butterflies, rather than trashy as is the trend sometimes. This brought back lots of wonderful memories, as I loved marching band very much. We had to learn a new routine and new songs every week, and it was a lot of work, but so worth it on Friday night! We also had special steps and routines in parades that won us some awards. I would love for marching bands to make a come-back at football games and as the half-time show at the super bowl!

  3. What a beautiful performance! Congratulations to all!! What a feather in his cap for a band director of 25 years!!! Amazing display of talented teamwork overall. This makes Caroline’s high school career all the more exciting and promising. So glad to hear that she has made so many new friends through band. Shared music really does draw people together. Here’s wishing much success to Homestead Marching Band in the future! The next 3 years will be exciting, too.

    In high school, I played flute in band, sang in the choir, but mostly played piano to accompany the jazz band and choir. It was a very busy time, but great fun since all of my best friends were in both activities as well. Our band director tried to do marching band with us one year, but it was a total flop since he taught at two schools sharing his time and he wanted to make one marching band out of both schools. The other school was practically clear across the county, so there were just too many obstacles to succeed. Having enough interested students in a larger school is a big advantage today.

  4. I hated marching band after the first year–probably because we won the “big” tournament my first year–the Delaware County Fair. Bass clarinets didn’t march and another bass clarinet had switched to mellophone so I enjoyed playing that. I could also play saxophone and had done that for the little bit of marching in middle school. I ended up carrying the American flag a few times in later years, but for 3 years I spent the marching band season as the music librarian! I didn’t care. I hated what marching band became after that first year. Track shows were short and sweet. Field shows a nightmare. Nice post. I hope Homestead does well.

  5. What a spectacular performance! This performance looks like a college band, but better! Incredible!! I spent five years in the TC (Indiana) High School Band, playing a baritone the first three years. I then was a flag waver for one year, then a majorette my senior year which was the year we marched at the Blue/Gray football game in Montgomery, AL. I loved being in both marching and concert bands. I felt part of an incredible team. Yes, there were many long hours of practice but it was all worth it in the end.

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