Marching band is as “Indiana” as the famed pork tenderloin at Nick’s Kitchen (Huntington, IN). We know form Google analytics that the Japanese and Indonesians cannot get enough of the Avon and Carmel marching band performances. Directors from all over the country come to learn from the extraordinary talent that make these programs run like clockwork. Marching band is an absolutely positive addiction.
I could cite any number of studies that show correlation between music education and academic achievement, creativity, and etc., I am not going to bore you with that—after all those are usually statistics that can be read in a variety of days. I do want to talk about what are real life benefits outside of the classroom. Here are three that I live every day:
1. You learn how to perform when you would rather be anywhere else
We all like to pretend we are 100% committed to everything every day. Here’s the truth: No one wants to show up most of the time. Maybe you are excited for a show day, but were you really excited to show up on the parking lot when it is 90 degrees in August after being in school all day? No you are not. Are you genuinely excited to wake up at 6am so you can beat the morning rush hour? No you are not. Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over and feel like you’re getting nowhere? No you are not.
That is ok. Just showing up when you do not want to show up will get you ahead of most people. If you show up to the gym and move, you are going to get stronger. If you show up to work every day, you will get better at your job. If you show up to class every single day, you will pass the class. Showing up by itself does not lead you to optimal performance, but it will get you 80% there.
2. You learn that “creativity” is mostly about action
People who like music often say that they are in music to express their “creative” side. While there is a creative aspect to marching band, it is primarily foundational concepts and constant rehearsal. There is great creativity in designing the show, beyond that it is work, work, work.
Professional actors, musicians, comedians, athletes, and speakers make things look so easy? They spend months and years crafting their project and then spend months and years mastering the performance of their project. There is not “secret” formula to performing anything well. At the end of the day, creativity is about work. It is not about seeking inspiration. You can certainly draw from experiences you have but turning creativity into something tangible is all about committing the work aspect. You can have all the creativity in the world but if you do not put it into something tangible, it will not catch.
3. You learn how to meaningfully contribute to a greater vision
One of the great things I love about marching band is that it is a truly equal environment no matter how big or small your ensemble is. You can be playing the concert bass drum or 3rd trumpet and know you are contributing as much as your band director, the flute soloist, or the color guard. Other parts of the performance may gain more recognition than your whole note chord progression but you are there doing your part to make the rest of the performance possible.
This concept is absolutely similar in real life. An entry-level employee at Starbucks is the one who actually executes the vision of the CEO. A middle manager needs to be aware of the overall vision to execute their part in the mission.
For better or worse, adult life is about playing your part: sometimes you are the director, sometimes you are the incoming freshman who does not know left from right. Both components are essential to making the machine run.