A Thank You Letter To High School Marching Band

A Thank You Letter To High School Marching Band

From the girl who never said thank you enough in high school
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Marching band was an organization I never imagined myself being involved in. During middle school, I was one of those kids who made fun of the "band geeks" (Thanks, SpongeBob) or, alternatively, the "Dorkestra" (Thanks, Lizzie McGuire). In a burst of 8th grader excitement and encouragement from a close friend, I joined color guard (the girls who spin flags with the band) freshman year and was a part of it for three years, so I was a member of marching band, but I didn't play an instrument or get to wear an uncomfortable wool suit and a snazzy shako with a huge, sparkly plume. Sophomore year I learned to play the saxophone and senior year I decided to leave behind the flags and glitter and trade color guard for the saxophone section when marching band season came around. I regret all the time I spent thinking band was lame or that I was too good for it, so here's a long-overdue letter to high school marching band: the institution itself and the people who made it what it was.


Dear High School Marching Band,

I want to start out saying I'm sorry. It's taken me until halfway through college to realize how much I miss you and to come to terms with the fact that you're pretty much "the one that got away." I never appreciated you enough in high school. I was always complaining, thinking too hard about homework or focusing too much on the future after graduation to stop and smell the valve oil (lol, band jokes), and I'm sorry for that.

I miss you every day. Even though a little more than three years have passed since I last suited up and spent more time on the field than most boys on the football team, you still hold a special place in my heart, and you always will.

Thank you for the friendships you gave me with the most unexpected people. The people who had the most incredible gifts for music combined with the most incredible sense of humor. The people who I shared concession stand nachos with, who I hid in the instrument storage room with and tried to set random things on fire before football games (the closest I ever came to juvenile delinquency, thankfully), who walked to my house for a Halloween bonfire while wearing a poncho and sombrero and who helped me with my absolutely ridiculous senior project where I tried to orchestrate a saxophone quartet (it's on YouTube, if you need a laugh). Thank you for bringing me close to these people who I never would have been friends with otherwise. Today, some of those people are musicians, while others chose other routes and will some day be law enforcement officers, military personnel, teachers, businessmen and women, doctors, lawyers and everything in between. I count myself blessed to have known them and to have at one time worn the same uniforms.

Thank you for encouraging me to push myself every day. I never envisioned myself standing with a heavy metal instrument around my neck, wearing uncomfortable and embarrassing-looking marching shoes on asphalt, turf or soggy grass in freezing and heat-stroke inducing temperatures and in driving rain and intense winds, but I did it countless times for several hours, and not only did I succeed, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The pride of knowing I have the capacity to memorize hundreds of sets of flag work or drill and music and then perform the work by memory in front of hundreds or even thousands of people on Friday and Saturday nights is something no one can ever take from me.

Thank you for giving me a home away from home. Marching band was a family, the band room was our house and the stinky school buses that took us to away games and competitions was our vacation home. In the moments when we would all sing songs, do ridiculous stretches or pause to pray and reflect before "leaving it all on the field" at a game or competition I truly felt like I belonged somewhere. There were so many moments toward the end of every season or toward the end of the school year before seniors graduated where I would look around at the faces I had seen covered in sweat and dark with focus, and tears came to my eyes. Knowing that these people, some of whom had not so long ago been strangers, were working literally in step together to achieve the same goal meant so much, and still does.

Thank you to my band directors for the times you warned us college marching band wouldn't be the same. Because you were right. It isn't. There will never be an organization that can replace the place marching band holds in my heart. I will never again be with a group of my peers in the way I was in high school marching band, but, like my first band director told us, I won't cry because it's over; I'll smile because it happened. Band directors, thank you for always opening your office for a chat and for giving us band kids a place to eat lunch that wasn't the cafeteria. Thank you for loving us and pushing us to our physical limits with marching and our musical limits with playing. Thank you for being passionate about your jobs and treating us like family, even though we demanded much of your time and took you away from your own spouses and children.

Thank you, marching band, for existing. Thank you for taking over my life for about four months every autumn for four years. Thank you for everything: the good, the bad, the ugly, the rainy, the sweaty, the out-of-tune and the beautiful moments where we would join hands and focus on our success as a group.

Thank you for teaching me to keep my chin up, to keep my chest out and to keep my eyes filled with pride.

Love,

The now-proud band geek who never said thank you enough in high school.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend

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Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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