This is the place where I round up a corral chock-full of mixed media art, vintage collections, digital escapades, and some occasionally snarky observations about life with junk, books, rescue dogs and nearly-grown children.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hurrah for Marching Band!

 Vintage Tuba Guy on Tuba Sheet Music.

It's Septemeber in Texas, and that means high school football--er, I mean Marching Band!  Yep, bring out the horns, warm up the drum line, fill up the stands with Band Moms.  Let's hear it for Band!

 Both of my children are Band Geeks--my son played Tuba from 6th grade through high school, both in Louisiana and in Texas.

 The Belle Chasse High School Band went to Walt Disney World in April 2005.  My son was one of two tuba players.  The 50-member Fighting Cardinal Band marched down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This was taken after their march.  For some of these students, this trip was the highlight of high school before Katrina made landfall a few months later. 
--Photo, courtesy of the Interwebs.

 My son marched for two seasons in the Texas Tech Goin' Band from Raiderland in Lubbock Texas.  The Goin' Band is one of the largest university Marching Bands, with 450 members.  My son marched half-times at two college Bowl games.

 Band is serious business, starting with Band Camp at the end of July, two weeks before school starts.

I bought my daughter a new one-gallon jug because she said she didn't want to carry her brother's jug with "NIRVANA" and  "Blink 182" logos scrawled in Sharpie on the sides.  She is still carrying it and we have had four football games.

You need your equipment--above is my daughter's mellophone case and water jug. With temperatures in the high 90s, hydration is an important component of Marching Band.

The kids learn a new warm-up routine--this year's routine is set to the music of "Fireflies" by "Owl City".  Jumping builds synchronized movement:

At the end of Band Camp, the kids put on an Exhibition, highlighting the first dozen or so pages of music memorized and drill patterns learned.  My daughter is a junior, and serves as a Band Historian.

Our Band, The Woodlands High School Highlander Marching Band, has about 250 members.  The Band specializes in field show competition, using custom-prepared drills set to complex musical scores.  The kids play and march in challenging, precise patterns.  The average show is about 100 pages long.  The kids must memorize EVERYTHING.  The Band will compete this year in two Bands of America (BOA) competitions and up to three Texast UIL competitions, not counting the field show performances at half-time.

This is our district's Home Stadium, in use for it's third season. In Texas, high school football is the state religion and is fraught with ritual, tradition and passion.  There really is almost as much drama as you see on TV's "Friday Night Lights."
Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Of course,  the football games, according to most Band kids, serve as a backdrop to playing "Stand Tunes" and provide a top-notch dating pool.  Student romances flower, bloom and wither every game.  We take school buses to the games, and the kids have to haul everything themselves.  The bigger instruments come by semi-truck.

This is our Band Truck.
The Band owns the carrier, and the Band Boosters  pay the driver with the tractor to haul our equipment.
Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Our students are dedicated--many of them juggle AP classes and other activities as well as Band, which consumes 20 hours a week beyond school during Marching Season.

The kids play through all sorts of weather.  Football games are rarely cancelled--the last time this happened was during Hurricane Ike in 2008.  The games are played in heat and rain for most of the season.

 Rain threatened our second pre-season game.  The rainbow was cool.  The rain drizzles were not so great.

The field show will change many times over the course of the season.  For now, the Guard has white flags and black uniforms.  Later the girls will get custom-made guard uniforms and flags that go with the show theme.  The choreography of the marching will be tweaked and adjusted until a cohesive show emerges.  The judges look for the quality of the music, the challenge involved in the score, and the complexity and precision of the marching.  Artsy considerations also play an important part in the judging--what the half-time crowd likes and the BOA judges love are often two different things.

Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Marching Band takes a big commitment, both from the parents who must pay the fees (I don't like to think about what I could have done with the money I've spent on my kids' Band experiences) and from the students, who must squeeze their school work in around grueling practices and late-night arrivals home from football games.

My daughter is an awesome, dedicated musician, and we're proud of her.  She'll remember her Band days fondly, I'm sure.


  1. Cathi...Oh my gosh! Marching band...this takes me back! LOL My youngest son was in marching band at Klein (just down I-45 from y'all) for four years. I know what you mean about commitment! It was fantastic fun EXCEPT when the occasional kid passed out from heat exhaustion during drill practice...lordy...I was on the "nurse assistance" duty his freshman year...first day up three kids went down...GAWD...that was my LAST year to do that duty! LOL Thankfully my oldest was in orchestra...just as much commitment (actually more for me because I was on the Board) but it was all "indoors"....much more civilized!
    just me...remembering SOMEWHAT fondly...jan

  2. I just found your blog (and your other one) via a Fuglyite's comment. Nice job! My son is a freshman and plays Alto Sax in our HS Marching Band (Wentzville, MO). I was not in Band, nor was my husband or our daughter or anyone else in either of our families, for that matter, so this whole "band thing" is completely new to us. I wish I'd found your blog sooner because I have felt CLUE-LESS much of the time this year! :-) I went to all the home football games and to a BOA competition, so I have a little better idea of what goes on now. Amen to the juggling schoolwork with late nights and grueling practices... sometimes the boy was so tired he'd come in and fall asleep on the kitchen floor. Our band director is a super-awesome guy and the kids adore him, fortunately. But I would not want his job for ANYTHING! Anyway, I have enjoyed my time as a band mom so far. I have many other volunteer commitments so I'm not able to do much for them (and I owe money for fees right now that I don't have :-/); I'm in awe of the time and efforts other band parents put in.

    I think it's a fantastic experience for kids and I'm glad my son is doing it!

    P.S. I'm an Ohio State grad as in, TBDBITL :-)


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