I was in marching band and the skills I learned then, I have utilized in life as an adult. Being in marching band is fun and memories are made, but it is so much more than that. Without even realizing it, kids are learning life lessons that they can hang onto for the rest of their lives. There is a sense of belonging and community and it becomes a family like unit. There are so many values being instilled in the hearts and minds of marching band students, even some that can’t be explained with words. As an adult, I have become aware just how much I took away from my time participating in marching band, and I wanted to share 5 life lessons marching band teaches kids.
1. Discipline and work ethic
There are so many balls to juggle at once during marching band practice. Not only do students have to memorize music, they also have to memorize drill charts, march the correct direction so they don’t run into someone else, know how many counts it takes to get to the next chart, make sure they’re playing the correct notes, and remember to wear the hat, gloves, coat, shoes, and pants. Not only that, uniforms must be dry cleaned between each football game or contest, students must show up to rehearsals early or they are considered to be late, and having a good attitude even when rehearsal goes on longer than expected is a must. Kids get hot, tired, worn out, reeds get broken, they march in the rain, and sometimes they even get stepped on when someone doesn’t read their chart correctly. Working as part of a team is so important and is an essential life skill that is taught.
2. Time management
During marching band season, there will be Friday night football games that are home and away, marching band contests that are in town or several states away, early morning rehearsals before school every day as well as some Saturday mornings, and sectionals that are called with just your instrument group. Now, imagine juggling all of this while also trying to live your life. Students still have homework, even if they miss school. They will have church functions, sports practice, piano lessons, family commitments, and not to mention just trying to find down time for themselves. Once these students become adults, time management will come so much easier to them because they are used to doing it.
I will never forget being at band competitions and hearing the cheers from the other bands. Not only that, if a band member sees someone else is needing help, they never hesitate to give up their time to help them one on one. At any time, you will see someone carrying someone else’s instrument, helping button up a band coat or fix a crooked hat, or helping the pit crew set up all their gear. Being a part of a team instills a sense of confidence, which helps in job interviews and future jobs.
There will always be students who don’t want to do what the rest of the group is doing. But, like I said, you will see most students stepping up to help. If everyone needs to sit on the practice field so the band director can work with the flute section, they do it. If the color guard girl has dropped her flag for the third time, students are patient while she gets extra help. If an extra band rehearsal is called because bad weather caused the last one to be cancelled, students for the most part will cooperate and use flexibility. This is a huge life skill that is important to have in adulthood.
From the first day of marching band practice, respect is taught. If the band director is talking, you stand at attention and are quiet. If your section leader says we need to practice measure 8-20 one more time, you show respect and do it. Not only that, students realize they are representing their school and community at every performance, and respect must be earned and kept. Respect is something that some kids have a hard time with. Marching band helps instill this skill into the minds and hearts of young people.