Why not call us Musical Athletes?

Marching band was a big part of my life for a long time.  I spent every day in high school working on becoming a better player so that we, as a team, could end the year with another championship banner and trophy.  We did what athletes do and we worked as hard, or as many of my fellow band geeks would say, harder than any athlete.  Yet somehow, we were never looked at with praise outside our musical circle.  Why not be considered athletes?  Musical athletes.  I honestly don’t ask that for myself, as I’ve heard it as a musician and as an instructor from both students and educators.

The P.E. Thing

We don’t get physical education credits anymore.  Maybe it’s a case of music haters running things.  Or maybe it’s that they haven’t done it themselves so they treat the activity as more of an art than an athletic event.  Although, it is a physically demanding activity.  Band kids aren’t the most athletic people – and before anyone says DCI – there is no difference.  We had kids in band back in my day that really should have been playing football but chose music instead.  Large, athletic kids playing trumpets and snares on a football field.

Not happy being us

I understand the desire to be recognized.  But I think the problem with this activity, with the members and staff that is, is that we are ashamed of who we are and what we do.  I wasn’t.  To this day, I wear that badge with pride.  I was a band geek and I still am.

Titles like, “The Mighty Marching Dons Regiment”, as my band was called, or something more along the lines of what you would see today like, “The (enter high school name) entertainment unit” are great examples of why I feel band people are ashamed of who they are.  I once told a band director I worked with to just call the band by it’s mascot.  There is no need for anything other than the school name and mascot.  Or just the mascot really.  If you’re at a marching band competition you assume you’re gonna see a marching band on the field.  So why have the announcer say “The Mighty Marching Dons Regiment of Verdugo Hills High School”?  Do football teams do that?  And now your mighty football playing Dons!

We can be the most successful music program in the land and we’d still be comparing ourselves to what the other guys are doing.  Yes, we can move around and play instruments at a very challenging level.  Yes, we can get our heart rate up to the level of a college football player.  So Fucking What?!  Why not just be happy we are able to do that instead of comparing ourselves to the outside world.  And drum corps people, before you start your, “drum corps isn’t marching band” bullshit, no one cares about that outside our world … and guess what?  It really is the same thing.