“Take it back, do it again.”
Funny how six words could illicit such groans and whines from a group of high schoolers. We all knew what those words really meant. They meant that we would be out here all night unless we got this right… and of course by “all night” we knew it really meant “until your parents threaten to kill me for keeping you past 9.”
I was a band geek. Band had taken over my life.
Looking back at high school, I’ve begun to find that the memories that I can still recall as if they were yesterday are those I experienced during my time as a member of the Nordonia High School “Lancer” band. It meant marching season with its seemingly endless Thursday night practices, Friday football games in every sort of weather possible, Saturday competitions and waiting in anticipation at state finals for the words “Nordonia High school band, your overall rating is…One, superior” (words we never got to hear while I was in band), countless bus rides, and learning the exact art of changing your uniform on a school bus. And it meant ’concert’ season where we practiced inside in environmentally controlled rooms, playing more technical music, less bus rides, less uniforms, harder music, and only one competition (two if we were lucky). Four years of my life were spent in this cycle, doing nothing but band from mid-July to the end of May.
When I signed up for band I had no idea how much it would teach me. I had no idea the life lessons that would be taught to me by being a member. I didn’t know that these lessons could be applied to other parts of life. Band taught me a whole new meaning to working together. Being in band gave me opportunities to learn things I would have never had the chance to learn had I not joined. I got the opportunity to work as a member of something that could only be greater if we all worked together to make it work. If one person decided to not play their music, part of the melody was lost. If one person didn’t know where they were supposed to go in the marching drill, the entire picture would not work. We had to work together as a team…or else the rating of “excellent,” let alone “superior,” could not be achieved. I learned a form of teamwork that cannot be learned any other way.
Our whole lives we are told that working as a team is something we should do. We are taught that we must do our work as best as we can, yet some members of society seem to forget these lessons. Perhaps if they’d experienced something like I did they would finally understand that their deciding to not play their part really does make a difference. People think that they don’t matter and that their voices aren’t heard. From being in band I’ve learned that it takes one person to change a show, one part not playing to change the dynamic of a piece of music. One person can make a difference. American citizens as a whole seem to not understand this. They think that since they are one voice among many, their opinion won’t make a difference. It only takes one person to change something. One person can change the mind of others. One person can cause the band’s overall rating to go from a “superior” to an “excellent.” Perhaps if more people understood that their part in the world really did matter, then maybe more people would vote in Presidential elections. There have been campaigns to get the youth of our nation to vote, such as “Rock the Vote,” but it doesn’t seem to be working. People need to see that their votes do matter, that they do make a difference. Maybe if they’d been a member of something like band like I was, then they would know that their opinions really do make a difference.
Our teamwork as a band usually paid off in the end. We would receive the “superior” rating we desired in order to be eligible for state finals. And while we would never achieve a “superior” rating at state marching band finals, we knew still that we had worked as a team to get there. During state finals for concert band, we walked out of the performance knowing we’d just played something amazing to find out an hour later that we’d received a “superior” rating. The feeling of joy and accomplishment is something that I can still feel when I think of that moment. Knowing that we as a group had achieved such a feat is a feeling I never want to forget.
The seemingly endless rehearsals and pain of frozen fingers at football games are things that I sometimes wish I could forget. But the truth is, all of these experiences brought the members of the band closer together. We suffered through nights of torrential downpours, and nights where our fingers were so cold we could barely move them. We all collectively hated waking up at five in the morning at band camp so we could be on the field for practice at six. We all knew that the phrase “one more time” really meant five or six. As a group we were more of a family than anything. We were a family that had learned from experience and hours spent together that if we all worked together and all did our parts, we could create something amazing. We could work so that one day we could stand on the field and hear the words “Nordonia marching band, your rating is… One, Superior.”
Being a member of the marching band made me realize that it was worth it to be a part of something that matters. No matter what our score at the end of the day, we had all worked together, and that’s what really mattered.
Michelle Daymon is a junior from Macedonia, Ohio, majoring in Political Science.