10 Reasons the marching band deserves more credit

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10 Reasons the marching band deserves more credit

Rebecca Loncar, Staff Writer

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The Milford High School Marching Band is one of our most successful programs at Milford High School, but many of the members feel that they deserve more credit. The marching band does a lot more than just walk around the football field and play an instrument.

1.

It’s a summer sport, and it begins earlier than almost every other summer sport. Many other summer sports begin in July or August, but the marching band begins with in May to honor veterans at the Memorial Day Parade. Memorization for the Memorial Day Parade is difficult as the music, The Washington Post by John Philip Sousa is one of the most recognized pieces of American patriotic music.

2.

In the month of August, the band practices five days per week during pre-camp from 2-9 p.m., averaging 35 hours of work in one week, as well as band camp, which is all day for four days. Through the month of August in total the band averages around 115 hours of practicing.  These practices are long and hard, with the hot summer sun beating down onto members as they march on the pavement of the teachers parking lot.

3.

During the months of September and October, the band averages around 18 hours of practice in one week. Every week Monday and Wednesday from 5-9 the band practices, often in the teachers parking lot. Then, most Saturdays the band practices from 9-5; if they have a competition, then it is even longer of a day. On Friday nights at football games, members MUST stay until the end of the game, getting home often around 10 p.m., and then on Saturdays, they get up for a competition and practice by 9 am, again staying out around 10 p.m. that night. On Mondays and Wednesdays during October and November, many underclassmen members stay at the school until 9 o’clock at night. Everyone gets their homework for that night done in the 3 hours between school and practice or late at night after rehearsal. Many band members take AP and Honors classes and maintain above 3.0 GPAs.

4.

There is the competitive season and the performance season, which overlap but also are two separate seasons and have different attitudes surrounding them. The performance season is during football games and ends when the football games end, but it also includes parades such as the Pontiac Holiday Parade and Milford Holiday Parade. The competitive season is intense, high strung, and starts in late September through November.

5.

The Milford High School Marching band has made it to States at Ford Field in Detroit for 27 years, and in the past five years, the band has increased its rank every year, starting at 12th in 2014 to 9th in 2017. Although in 2014 they ranked 12th out of the 12 bands at states, they beat many other schools in the regional competitions to go to States, so they were ranked the 12th best band in the division, in the entire state of Michigan.

6.

No matter the type of weather that starts, (unless there is lightning or a tornado), the band continues playing or practicing. In 2016, during the Homecoming halftime, it began to thunder, lightning and downpour, but the band stayed and continued to play. The uniforms cause marchers to be extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the later months of the season as well. The uniforms have many confusing parts and we are not allowed to be out of uniform if we are at a competition or at a football game. There are many small parts to the uniform down to how the shoelaces are tied and tucked into the shoe.

7.

There is no “try outs” to be in the winds for band. We take everyone and teach everyone to march, no matter how much improvement they may need. This is coupled with the fact that you must be in band if you are in the winds or percussion sections of marching band, but as for marching we teach everyone everything they need to know. Everything from filling in the drill books, to how to march and count is taught. Marching band is one of the most disciplined and refined sports, and the Milford band expects as close to perfection as it can get.

8.

No one gets benched unless he or she is injured. Everyone marches and even if someone gets injured, if they still can play, they play on the sideline. Every person plays a part and has a spot in the band. The band is unique to the people in it, and if someone is missing, the band is incomplete as are the formations that they make during their shows. The drill is obviously incomplete when someone must sit on the sideline. The music also does not sound as full as it would with every member in the formations, as placements on the field are done deliberately to get the best sound possible. The placements on the field are also not random spaces that the band walks to. There is a specific drill that each person receives, and at practice hours will be spent on a spot in the drill if it doesn’t look right. Our drill is like a game of battleship. Each member has a set of coordinates on the field which members march to in order to form patterns and shapes. Most of these coordinates are learned in the week of band camp. As these are learned, they are perfected and memorized.

9.

Members also have to memorize 7 minutes of music, which sounds simple until they start to add in moving your feet in time with the music, going to specific spots on the field, and perform your emotions, and remembering to breathe. The instruments can weigh as much as 60 pounds builds muscular strength and teaches extreme discipline when it comes to moving in the specific forms that band members are taught to move. When it comes to watching out for each other, It isn’t just other instruments members need to worry about being near. The color guard is always spinning large flags, wooden rifles and wooden sabres which all cause massive black and blue bruises if you end up in their way.

10.

The color guard lining up before the homecoming game.

As for funding, the marching band is extremely reliant on self funding. Yearly expenses include the fees for designing the drill for the show, color guards costumes and flags, competition entry fees, attending band camp and much more. As for the uniforms, they only get replaced every 10 years. Our uniforms were replaced the day before states in the 2015 season. The district covers half of the uniform costs when they do get replaced every 10 years. The band does need to buy new instruments when the old ones start to get extremely worn out. It takes many years to save up for new instruments due to many instruments being over $1,000 each. Many members instruments cost over $2000 each and so they have essentially paid for a used car for less. The band’s last sizable sum of money to buy new instruments was their large bond in 2002. The band pays around $250 to enter each competition and there are usually 5 competitions in a season, including States at Ford Field in Detroit. New music, and the copyrights for every song the band plays is also needed, so there aren’t any lawsuits. Copyrights are required in order to perform any music, or else the band and Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) could face lawsuits.

The marching band has been working extremely hard, as have many of our other sports, and the band really enjoys interacting with the student section, football team, and cheerleading teams under the Friday night lights. But as summer draws near and school comes to a close, try to give your marching band friends a little more credit. The band works very hard and is working harder every year. Catch the marching band in the Milford Memorial Day Parade on May 28th.

 

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