Ah, band! As someone who has just completed his 3rd marching season, marched 4 indoor percussion seasons, and being a part of the band program for 6 years, I have learned a lot and made lots of memories, and I will say that if it weren't for band, I would be a much different person now. I have learned about commitment, time management, relationships, and more. One interesting thing I have learned, however, is that band really isn't for everyone. Is band, particularly high school marching band, for you? Consider these...
1. Band takes the most commitment than almost any other program
From my experience, there is no other program or sport that takes the level of commitment that marching band does. If you join the football team, you can quit whenever you feel like it really. Marching band is different. Once the season really starts, and you start learning music and the show as a whole, you cannot just get up one day and just say, "I'm tired of this. I'm going to give up." This creates a huge setback for both band members and staff. So if you join band, don't think selfishly.
2. Marching band is time consuming
Picture this: Over the summer, you have to go to rehearsal twice a week and have a 2 or 3 week long band camp. If you don't like the sound of this, you might not want to join marching band for reason condition #1.
3. Surprise! Marching band is actually a very physical activity
If you choose to join, be prepared to run... A LOT, do some push-ups, and work hard under the sun for hours. Marching band isn't something you can get up after eating only a bag of chips and expect to feel fine afterwards. Hydrating before a rehearsal and competition day is highly important. If you eat and hydrate properly, you will at least feel better and be more in shape after a season of hard work.
4. There is a high level of competition
This is active both within the group and against other bands. Especially if you play percussion, You might not even get the spot you desired. At my school, during auditions, competition for a spot in the battery (drumline) side of the percussion is super high. This past marching season, not everyone made a spot in the battery section and some who did didn't get the spot the really, really wanted. Against other band at competitions, scores and placements can get way too close. At my last competition my sophomore year, the difference between last place and first place was 2 whole points with 7 bands in that class. That just proves how tight the competition can get.
5. If you want to make a lot of friends, join band
I highly recommend joining for this reason. In middle school, I didn't really have too many friends. Like 4 or 5 people were really friends. When I got to high school and joined marching band, I made so many I can't count them all. The friendliness band members have is so much. If you need a ride home, just ask and somebody will lend you a hand. Need any help in a class? Someone in band will be happy to help.
6. If you join band, be prepared to go on long trips
This is both a good thing and bad thing depending on your preference. If you want to explore your region or state and visit places you have never heard of, join band. If you hate car rides, as bad as those are, bus rides aren't as bad. This is because the ride to and from a competition or game is fun. But again, if you just don't like travel, it might be a different story for you.
7. It is a true team activity
Marching band takes a ton of teamwork. Unlike many other sports, if one person sits out it could cause lots of potential problems. Also if several people sit out during a performance, the form with the drill could look messed up, when in reality it's just that people are missing. Musically too, it can create balance problems. If you ever wanted to feel what it really is like to be part of a team, join band.
If you are still undecided, I recommend joining for at least your freshman year. If you don't enjoy it, just simply quit after that year. If you enjoyed and had an absolute blast, stay. The journey you can go on if you join and stay is a huge one. Who knows? If you are good enough you could possibly become a world champion in a world class drum corps or continue your career as an instructor or band director. If you choose not to, it's OK to pursue in another hobby or activity. Do what makes you happy, and you will live a happy life.