Opinion: Band is a worthy commitment

I march and wave to my family in the stands at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA on Jan. 1. The band was invited to march in the parade at the awards ceremony of the 2019 Bands of America Grand Nationals competition in Indianapolis. (Photo by Austin Hines)

Our marching band is one of the most intense programs a student can sign up for. From late July to early November, we train outside nearly every day for competitions and football games. Practices are both physically and mentally demanding as they require high levels of energy and attention to detail. However, it is sincerely worth the commitment in the end and having friends by my side along the way makes it even more worthwhile.

In middle school, I had a difficult time with band. Killian, the middle school I attended, had a serious band program. While I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, most of the weight I felt was put on me by those who were in charge of the program when I was there. I did not have motivation to practice and started to lose my passion for playing the french horn and creating music. The negative environment began to drag me down.

I hug my sister after a long rehearsal in Chicago. The Killian Middle School Honors Band performed at the 73rd Annual Midwest Clinic on December 19, 2019. (Photo by Vonda Dyer)

After COVID-19 began at the end of my eighth grade year, I got a bit of a break from the physical environment that came with being in my middle school band. I listened to a lot of music during quarantine and regained a bit of my love for playing my instrument.

After eighth grade ended, I was faced with the decision to either quit band or stay and be in the marching band with my older sister, Delaney. She was a senior at the time and wanted me to be in band with her for her last year at Hebron. The only reason I decided to stay in band that year was because of her, but I wouldn’t take the experience back for anything.

I play my mellophone on the field at the 2021 homecoming game last marching season. I won the title of Sophomore Duchess for homecoming and got to perform in a dress with my hair down, which was so cool for me. (Photo by Keith Owens/KO Photo)

Marching band consistently keeps me active and pushes me to organize my time efficiently. My grades are often higher during marching season because of how flexible I have to be with the little free time I get. It teaches me how to work efficiently on the practice field and in the classroom while running on little sleep. I have to be punctual and mentally present at band rehearsal, no matter the time or situation, which trains me to be punctual and present in other areas of my life.

Whether it be in marching or concert season, I have learned so much throughout my three years of being in the program. I’ve learned how to manage friendships with different kinds of people, how to improve at something in a time-efficient manner and, most importantly, how to not be so hard on myself. I learned how to view my membership in the band and my musicianship as a student as opportunity instead of obligation, which really helped me gain motivation to improve just for the fun of it.

I hug my dad and widely grin with joy after winning the UIL 6A State Marching Band Championships last fall. This was the first time in school history that our band won a state championship and was a very special moment for me. (Photo by Vonda Dyer)

Taking unnecessary pressure off my shoulders in band has helped me learn to communicate with my teachers in other classes and to do my best, but accept when something does not go my way and simply move on. I have learned how to celebrate others’ accomplishments without internalizing their success to highlight my lack thereof. I am still learning how to serve others in the most thoughtful and understanding way possible, but being around roughly the same 350 kids every day helps me exercise that ability.

Band has given me the opportunity to work under multiple mentors and taught me things about myself I never would have known if I had not stayed in the organization. I really believe that it is helping me prepare for the real world and I could not be more thankful toward my teachers and friends for helping that happen. I am so glad I stayed in band and I am eager for my future in the program for the next year and a half.