10 Things I Learned From Marching Band
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10 Things I Learned From Marching Band

Real-life lessons from my band director

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10 Things I Learned From Marching Band

Ahhh, marching band: the days of standing at attention in 100-degree weather, almost getting trampled by the sousaphones on the first day of drill, and doing awkward "massage trains" during warmups. It's not for the faint of heart.

But believe it or not, I actually miss marching band--and not just because it got me out of gym class all four years of high school. My band director was incredibly passionate about music, working hard, and being professional and responsible, and many of his favorite sayings have stuck with me. Keep on reading for marching band wisdom that applies to real life as well.

1. Make a beautiful sound.

One of the first laws of music--and of life--is to make a beautiful sound, no matter what that sound is. It could be the most dissonant chord in the world, but make it something worth hearing. The world is full of ugliness; add something beautiful to it whenever you can.

2. Take care of your business.

This applies not only to the, ahem, bathroom kind of business but also to anything that's your responsibility to get done. Don't make excuses. Just do it, and do it sooner rather than later.

3. You are never done tuning.

(Unfortunately. Why does it have to be such a struggle?! Why does it sound so bad?!?!)

4. Don't be That Guy.

There's always that one guy who doesn't follow rule #2. Or that one guy who sticks out like a straight mute in a trumpet--and not in a good way either. Don't be him. Just don't.

5. Up your standards.

At the end of each rehearsal and performance, my band always huddled up for a final pep talk and announcements. Then, we were dismissed with the command, "Up your standards!" Cheesy though it might be, it always reminded me to keep striving to perform better and better.

6. Count.

You won't get far in music if you can't count rhythms accurately. But math doesn't go away in everyday life. The only solution is to count, and count correctly.

7. Balance and blend.

In band, as in life, it takes all kinds. Everyone has a unique part to play, and all are needed in order to create harmony and unity. Even if you'd rather bury the rest of the band with your soaring melody. (Just Google "A Trumpet Christmas" if you want to hear the result of showing off.)

8. Don't be rushing or dragging.

Nobody can complain if you're right on time, right? In life, it usually doesn't pay to sprint ahead or lag behind. Go at whatever pace the music calls for, whether leisurely or brisk.

9. Make mistakes boldly.

Who even cares if he's playing the right notes? Would you notice? That was my director's advice to us: Even if you don't get it right, be so confident that it looks like you did. Don't shy away from making mistakes; make them loud and proud.

10. Love what you do.

And maybe go slightly insane while doing it.



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