Anyone who has ever gone through sorority recruitment knows the first question their potential sisters ask; why did you choose to "Go Greek?" When I was asked this probing question upon my decision to join my sorority, the only thing that came to my mind was my high school marching band. I'd been a member of the middle and high school bands for seven years; I'd held the position of Woodwind Captain and Section Leader for two of those years. I performed with, lead, and grew attached to the same cluster of peers for four seasons of marching band, and when I graduated, they were the ones I felt the guiltiest about leaving behind. My school was fairly small; I graduated with a class of 124 students, fourteen of which, including myself— were my best friends, my "band buddies." These thirteen incredible, talented individuals and I had been through hell and high-water. Every school, every program, has their fair share of curve balls thrown at them, and our sixth-grade class took the hardest hit.
Over the years, we lost and gained numerous talented players, yet the fourteen of us in the class of 2014 remained. This consisted of two drummers, two saxophonists, a trumpet, a trombone, five color guards, a feature twirler, a flute, and a sousaphone — a motley crew indeed— we relied on one another; we boosted each other up, we advised, supported and loved one another. We were a band not only of twirlers and players, but a band of sisters and brothers, consistently reminding one another that this was the reason we stayed while others abandoned our program; we stayed for the sake of each other.
By the time we had all reached the title of 'Seniors,' the coveted thrones we are promised during all the years of awkwardness and pain, many obtained leadership positions. We had found different, littler, reasons to stay. With each graduating class before us, came a new class of incoming freshmen. Each just as eager and motivated as we once were back when we were that blissfully oblivious. With each new class of 'rookies' to the marching band, the fourteen of us all found at least one to latch onto, to call our Babies; the ones we taught, supported, and motivated just like we had done for each other all those years.
It was my Babies, that drove me to continue my marching band career those last couple years when some of the pressures we face in adolescence become harder to handle the older we get. I had far more than many of my fellow seniors did, about 8, all in sections differing from and the same as my own, all I had allowed to call me 'Mama.' But the three that I had in my saxophone section by my senior year were the closest to Littles I've ever had. I established a bond with them that was so different from the one I held with my older classmates. A bond that stretched so much further than just a love of music and performing. Their successes became my successes. Their heartaches, my heartaches; their laughter, became my laughter. Even now, having graduated almost two years ago, they keep in touch, letting me know how school is going, who they're taking to homecoming, how the show is looking. No, I am not their real mother by any means, but because of their reciprocated affection and appreciation. I understand how it feels to love someone in an unconditional way, a way specific to them, different than any relationship I could ever have with any boyfriend or friend my own age.
I came into my sorority with that mindset. I wanted a family outside of the real one I have, with Little ones looking to the experienced for love and guidance with eagerness and appreciation in their eyes. So, to anyone who ever did marching band in high school getting ready to take on their first Little, trust me: you’re already one step ahead of everyone else.
1. Section Leaders/Captains are essentially Big's.
After hours of practices, parades, and competitions, you start to establish a bond with the youngsters in your section so different from the one with your older classmates. You establish that same bond with your sisters and potential Little's after hours of recruitment, chapter, and philanthropy events. When you spend so much time with one another, it’s hard not to get attached. You love them, care for them, feed them, teach them right from wrong; you become their role model, and really, that’s all there is to it.
2. It is not always easy to support everything your Little or your Band Baby does.
Maybe dating that one drummer was not the best idea. And, maybe trying to craft at three o'clock in the morning with hot glue was not your shining hour either. But they need to know that while you may not agree with everything they do you will not let them fall flat on their face.
3. We all know joining a new organization is not always easy.
We have a tendency to feel out of place, or uncomfortable in a new club setting, be it marching band or a sorority. Being leadership in marching band taught me the importance of helping new members feel as comfortable in their bibbers as they do walking down the hallway. In the same light, you want new members to feel the same level of comfort in their letters, and that comes from making them feel encouraged and valued.
4. Life is not always easy either.
Neither is learning drill for a marching show or the sorority chants. Your job is to teach them to love all of it, especially life. Sometimes life throws us curveballs, like club recruitment day getting rained out, or the football field covered in tufts of mud and turf from cleats just before a show. Your job is to teach them to love all of it, especially life. After that, everything else comes naturally.
5. If I could love those crazy band kids this much, I know I could love a little just as much.
Because of that band family, I can teach a whole new generation the meaning of the word.