Oh, the days when band was the center of life. Independence Day is around the corner and we’ll be having a parade in our downtown. Parades always bring back great memories for me of marching band.
I really don’t know why, but when the Jr. High band director announced they would be having auditions for the drum major role, I just knew I wanted to do it. This was Jr. High when we really don’t know what we want until it happens, mind you. I was picked, and that summer, attended band camp. The first photos below were of the Jr. High marching band. Yes, that is a white turtleneck sweater that was part of the uniform (great for the Christmas parade. Not so much for the Memorial Day parade).
Once in Sr. High, the opportunity came to be an assistant drum major which I was picked to do. The following two years, I was picked to lead the Sr. High band as the drum major. The photo above was from my senior year (I’m the guy on the far right with a mace).
It was a challenge, but one that I loved. It included attending camps in the summer and performing with them at halftime shows, parades, and competitions. The photos below are ones my mother took during a few parades. One day, I’ll find a video of our halftime show and post that as well.
Marching band is something I would recommend for every young person if they can. It brought structure, friends, purpose, fun, and taught us all the meaning of teamwork. There’s also the ability to take part in a drum & bugle corps, which I was blessed to do for a year with a group out of Grand Rapids called, ‘The Coachman’.
When it was all said and done, life moved ahead to college and we all went our separate ways. But, I guarantee every person in the marching band will remember those nights when we performed in the snow, rain, and hundred-degree heat. Or, the times we performed in front of thousands at our county fair and were cheered by the hometown crowds.
Being the drum major was a special responsibility. Leading the band wherever we marched, conducting them during the shows, and even being a little bit of a showman in front of the crowds.
There were ‘those moments’, though, like when I was hit in the head with a snowball (thankfully, I had a big hat). Or, when I was nearly impounded by my mace that I threw thirty feet in the air while doing a 360 only to slip in the mud and catch it while falling (will never forget that one!).
Most of all, marching band taught me that it wasn’t all about me. It was about the band and all of us performing together. I may have been in front, but they were the ones performing. We may not have been the size of some of the bands around here that are larger than my whole high school then, but we had heart and love for the music.
So, tonight, here’s to my band director and his wife, Mr. & Mrs. Ball, along with Mr. Pierson, for believing in that cross-eyed kid enough to let him lead the band down the streets and in front of the whole town. Thank you for the memories!!
Wishing you all a very happy Independence Day coming up and be sure to check out a parade or two my friends…
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