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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000097.txt from 1998/03

From: Dee Hays <>
Subj: Re: Marching Band
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 20:29:57 -0500

Scott D. Morrow wrote:

> >Where I live, in central Maryland, marching band is the "only" influence
> >in a student's musical development in most public schools. Feeder
> >schools are blasted with promo programs from the local high school
> >marching band and students are told they cannot play in the Concert Band
> >unless they are members of the marching band.
> >
> >Being a member of the marching band virtually guarantees that a student
> >cannot elect to participate in any other extra-cirricular activity
> >because the band's practice schedule is so prohibitive. Even family
> >life must be arranged around the schedule of the high school marching
> >band.
> >
> >How sad that music education must depend on the booster organizations of
> >the marching band in order to travel and purchase instruments. There
> >are no provisions in the county school budget for large or small
> >instrument purchases, minimal monies for instrument repair and/or
> >purchase of new music. For those of you who wonder what becomes of the
> >string players, the marching band always needs poms, color guard, flags
> >and gofers. What a way to reinforce musical skill building!
> >
> >While I got a lot of my jollies in marching band, it did nothing to
> >prepare me for the world of the performing musician, amateur or
> >professional. It's a crying shame to see the path that music education
> >has taken in the public schools in my area.
> >
> >Nancy
> Nancy,
> It sounds to me like you are talking about Severna Park High
> School! I also spent my "formative" years in Anne Arundel County schools,
> but I went to Annapolis High. Even then, the horror stories of the Severna
> Park HS marching band's gruelling "you will win medals or die trying"
> rehearsal and competition schedules were legendary! My experience was much
> more laid-back (especially compared with SPHS). I guess it all depends
> what the director wants!
> -Scott

The things that I have read about some schools' marching bands have amazed and
even horrified me. The schools that I went to were much more sensible. While
there was the requirement that all band members had to be in marching band (
unless in a conflicting sports activity), it was not the primary objective of
the school bands that I belonged to. We practiced our marching drills one
session per week and worked on our concert pieces the other rehearsals. We did
not have to memorize marching music, that's what lyres are for. Our marching
was fun and the only reason that the entire band was required to participate
was that it was a small band. We needed everyone we could get just to have
some volume. So we were able to march at the half time activities, town
parades, and even state contest yet still put in plenty of time on activities
aimed at musical development.

As parents and musicians we need to get into the band boosters and school
boards and start shaping new policies rather than just pointing out the many
flaws of the old. After all sitting here talking to ourselves won't change

Dee Hays
Canton, SD

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