The Ottumwa Courier

Columns

September 6, 2013

Don't forget the band

The other night as the Ottumwa Bulldogs prepared to open their season, I could hear the sounds of another group preparing for their first night of the season. It was the Ottumwa marching band.

As I watched them warm up for the game, I thought about what hard work being a member of the marching band really is. I played trumpet in high school, and being in the band provided some of my favorite high school memories. What a lot of people may not realize, though, is that it takes a lot of work. Those kids work just as hard of the athletes and don't get nearly as much recognition for it.

There is so much that goes into putting a halftime show together. What some may not know (and I didn't until I got into high school) is that game night actually serves as more of a dress rehearsal for marching band contests that are held throughout the fall. It gives the band a chance to perform its set on the field, with an audience and in uniform.

When I was in high school, we started training early. We started practicing about two weeks before the school year started, just the same as the fall sports teams. We were in "band camp," (stop thinking "American Pie") for two or three hours a day. There were some days we even had a second practice. Much like athletic teams, we ran drills. Our drills consisted of snapping to attention and parade rest as one, practicing the "eight to five" (meaning eight steps every five yards), different types of turns and nailing the rolling heel-to-toe foot movement. Oh, and no slouching allowed. We also worked on memorizing the music for our field set as well as parade music. We usually got a head start on this during weekly summer lessons, as we had to be ready for the Celebration Days parade every Labor Day. Once the school year began, we had to be at school at 7:30 a.m., an hour before the school day actually began, and practice ran through until the end of first period, 9:12 a.m.

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