The feeling of sweat dripping down my back in the heat of the stadium lights, unable to move an inch while standing at attention, is always worth my efforts when the only sound I can hear is roars of cheering. No one truly understands the time and hard work put into performing a halftime show, or even marching band in general for that matter. When I first started, my parents didn’t truly understand why I would want to “walk around with a heavy drum on my shoulders” or why we had band camp. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it? Not only did I learn how much energy and time was put into each and every halftime performance, but I joined a little community that soon became my family.
I was a proud member of the drumline in the Towns County High School Marching Band, also called the Towns County Indian Raider Band or Towns Band of Blue (T. B.O.B. for short). I joined the high school band in 2013 for their spring concert season and was convinced by my director (by convinced, I mean he called my house phone every day asking me) to audition for the marching band that spring. For the 2013 marching season, I played snare alongside the drum captain. Our band was so small that our drumline only contained four bass drummers, two snare drummers, and one quad drummer. We spent a week in the heat of July learning the correct technique for marching, memorizing formations and music, playing technique and practicing constantly. During this week, we would arrive at the band room at 8 am and work nonstop until 6 pm. During the 2014 season, I auditioned and received the title of being the one and only quad player. I also made the record of being the first female to play quad drums in T.B.O.B history.
My 2014 season was my favorite season because it was the year I felt so important and loved. The drumline became my family and I even met my boyfriend of three years thanks to marching band. I am a very shy and socially anxious person yet marching band brought me out of my shell and even gave me enough confidence to dance while playing and marching, much to my new directors’ displeasure. I grew to have a great relationship with my director due to always helping out and taking authority to control the band when it was needed. By the end of my senior year, my director became my senior project mentor and taught me to play the saxophone. I would spend the entire school day with him and drive to McDonald’s to get us both lunch. Being a band member also made me feel good to be able to support my high school and football team by cheering them on during games.
However, the marching band did not come without conflict. Our band was extremely underappreciated by everyone outside of the parents of our band. Football moms would tell us that we were “distracting their sons in football from doing their best.” I can assure you, it was not the band’s fault as for why our high school never won a single football game. Our own principle tried to tell the Board of Education that we were a waste of money and tried to eliminate band altogether. As a community, we stuck together and showed everyone how wrong they were. We went to competitions and won trophies and multiple awards. None of us truly cared if we were appreciated because we knew how much we did and how important we were.
In the featured photo is me playing on my quad drums, which I had named Rodriguez in honor of the 2014 show’s Latin American theme, for our Homecoming pre-game. I remember crying at the end of the performance because it hit me that I would never be able to do this again with the people I grew to love so much. Marching band was more than just walking around willy-nilly with an instrument as big as I was; it was learning, determination, family, acceptance, support, leadership building, and so much more. It didn’t matter if we went to away games and didn’t come home till three in the morning right after it had begun to snow. The only thing that mattered is that we were all together and having fun and making fantastic memories, even when we did occasionally try to kill each other over whose Monster was who’s on the floor at 1 am with our band director begging us to stop talking so he could sleep.
To wrap it all up, marching band was the biggest impact in my life thus far. I was part of the Kennesaw Marching Owls as a staff member for the inaugural 2015 year. I always see myself being involved with a marching band in some way, shape or form. My first band director used to always tell our band something before we would perform, and it can be applied to any situation. No matter if you take it in a literal sense or in a figurative sense, play loud and don’t fall down.