my-band-geeks

Don’t ever tell me that marching band isn’t important.

I have had so many problems with public schools putting all the emphasis on athletics. When a school’s budget is cut, they don’t choose to take a little from each program. No. They choose to completely eradicate the arts programs, usually starting with the marching band. If you don’t play sports, you’re not a valuable asset, you’re not qualified for scholarships, and you mean nothing. Marching band? Why would we be impressed that you’re in marching band?

Anyone can do that.

Okay, fine. Anyone can do marching band. Anyone can spend hours on the field doing the same forty-second section over and over and over and over. Anyone can hit over 75 precise dots on the field with the correct step sizes, the correct amount of steps, the correct timing, without being so much as an inch to either side, in order and without looking at the yard line markers or the field. Anyone can memorize all of those extremely specific points on the grass and varying counts for steps and then execute them with a shako visor pulled down over your eyes and looking up at the press box the whole time. If you look down at the yard line markers to see where you are, congratulations, you just lost points for the group.

Anyone can memorize eight pages of notes, rhythms, dynamics, phrasing, and tempos. (But of course, before you do that you have to learn an instrument with hundreds of different fingerings and learn how to make slight changes in your lips to change notes and stay in tune.) Memorize all seven and a half minutes of music and then marry it to the seventy-five pages of drill you memorized. Do them both perfectly and at the same time. But you can’t just do what you memorized. You have to do it in perfect sync with everyone around you and know how to make the slightest adjustments to fit perfectly within the group. If you’re an inch to the right or barely a thousandth of a step sharp, it’ll throw everything off.

But anyone can do that.

Then add in the fact that you don’t get any individual credit for doing this. The closest you’ll come to recognition is your identity lumped into “The Such-and-Such Marching Band” as you all march onto the field looking exactly the same. You don’t have a number on your back. You have a uniform intended to erase you and turn you into dot T14 and nothing more.

But, for some reason you can’t explain, you love it. You love throwing everything you have into this ridiculously precise pursuit and then not getting any credit for it. You start thanking people when they call you a band geek. You start taping pictures of marching bands into your locker. You start wearing your band shirt everywhere you go. Because you look at the person in an identical uniform next to you and you know that you’ve done this for them and they’ve done this for you. This is more than just a team, this is a family; and if one person is missing from the form, the show can’t ever be the same. 

It costs so much money, so much time. You’re out there on the field in the blazing sun for fourteen hours a day during summer band camp, out in the street getting frostbite on your fingertips during the holiday parade. If anyone knew what you went through for this, they would wonder what made it all worth it.

And the truth is, what makes it all worth it cannot be described. It’s the camaraderie between you and the center snare, the colorguard newbie, the tenor sax player in the set in front of you. It’s the sunset behind you lighting up the back of your plume. It’s the hazy nostalgia that racks your chest with emotion. There’s something about the family you’ve chosen and the experience you’ve internalized that gives you the passion to throw everything down onto that field like nothing else matters in the world… because in that moment, it’s true. 

Your nerves are damaged from the cold. Your skin is damaged from the sun. Your joints are damaged from marching and marching and marching. You’re physically and mentally drained, your body is irreversibly compromised, you’re broke as hell, and all you have to show for it is a polyester jacket and a couple of blurry photographs.

But sports are what require hard work and dedication, not marching band.

Even though you complained basically the entire time you marched and even though you’re done with it, you pull out those photographs and you remember. You remember your first day of high school band camp when you had absolutely no idea what you were getting yourself into. You remember your first final retreat when they announced your band’s name as state champions, and you wanted to cry with happiness but you weren’t allowed to move, so you just clenched your fists so tight that your fingernails dug white crescents into your palms. You remember coming back the next year and thinking you knew everything as a sophomore, only to realize there was still so much to learn. You remember the band trips you spent months fundraising for, all the lame tourist attractions you visited between performances, and how you wouldn’t trade those memories for all the money in the world. You remember being a junior and getting nervous because people looked up to you now: as an upperclassman, as a section leader, as a friend. And then you were a senior and you cried on the final day of band camp. You remember how your life became a series of lasts. You had to decide which of the freshmen would inherit your band cubby, your lucky bottle of valve oil, your bus seat. You went to graduation but it didn’t mean anything because you still had one last band trip coming up. You didn’t shed a tear when you tossed your cap but you cried like a child after your last parade. You remember on the plane ride home, you expected to feel devastated and heartbroken, but you just felt… empty.

You remember printing out what seemed like the most difficult solo in the world. You remember driving up to your college and entering a room with a chair and a stand and a couple of people giving you skeptical looks. You remember getting an email from the college marching band with your audition results and reading it with tears of joy in your eyes because you realized it was starting all over again.

But marching band doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t matter.

Tell me that it doesn’t matter. Tell me as many times as you want. You could scream it in my face and I still wouldn’t hear because the music we’re making is too damn loud to let anything else in. 

Tell me that it doesn’t matter when I’m standing on the field for the last time, knowing that everything behind me will last forever and that nothing will ever mean more to me than this… and all you’ve got is some money and a jersey with a number on the back.

Do not ever tell me that marching band isn’t important. It is everything to me, and it is everything to millions of other band geeks across the world.

When you refuse to support kids because they participate in the arts rather than athletics, you’re no better than the football player who takes lunch money from nerds.

To all of my fellow band geeks… keep marching, even if the world tells you it’s not worth it. It is. God, it is worth it, in ways no one else but you will ever understand. Continue your band career in college. Audition for a drum corps. Stay active in your high school band as an alumnus supporter. You are all my family. 

Part 3 and the finale of my art dump of Band Geeks appreciation - only THE best SpongeBob episode ever. This time, the ending still shot and Squidward’s genuine happiness.

I decided to post this separately because it’s such an awesome and perfect scene! (and the only one I actually inked and coloured lol)

things I've heard in the band hallway: a masterlist: part two

-“papa pato, the pond has frozen over. the ducklings are dead”
-“it’s winter, the water is boiling. the ducklings are insane”

“if I hear one more rifle hit the ground I’m going to spare them the time it takes for them to brake it, and brake it over their heads instead”

“that toss was very majestic. up until… you know… it hit the ground”

“I want the sound to hit me like a brick. but not a sharp brick, I don’t want to die. how about a round brick? oh! a rock! just hit me with a rock”

“it was like someone poured honey in a gas tank”

“DING”

“okay but I feel like kindergarteners aren’t shooting up herion”

“why is my clementine leaking?”

“…this would be a good time to throw my tuba across the room”

“I’m personally offended that you think my cat is fat”

“mya you’re fudgalicious”

“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little trombone too”

-“oh crap, I’m screwed”
-“it’s okay, I’m screwed too. or if you’d prefer, I’d screw you. but that’s a discussion for a different day”

“DOUCHE SQUAD”

“do me.”

“I missed district band by two places. time for a double homocide.”

“it’s like an acrobatic airstream of nothingness”

“chairs and stands and small animals go flying”

“go back to p as in pneumonia”

“it’s like people are running back from New Jersey back there, whats going on?!”

*middle of rehearsal, the whip cracks from the drum room followed by 5 simultaneous-*
“OW”

“I would stab you with my sabre but I feel that it would tarnish it’s beauty”

“I’m not saying I have a dog kink, I’m saying that I have a doggy kink”

“…daddy?”

-“I need you to take my shirt off for me”
-“is it strange that that’s one of the more normal things someone has asked me in this hallway?”

-I like your shoes"
-“oh, thanks, I got them at-”
-“wanna fuck?”

things i've heard in the band hallway: a masterlist

“if you say silly one more Goddamn Time I will shove my silly clarinet up your ass”

“marching band is like a cult. except more sexual”

“I don’t want to look just sexy. I want to look: pin me against a wall and talk bandy to me sexy”

“merchin’ bernd is lerf”

*a five year old, asking our pic player*
“where’s the rest of it?”

“congratulations, you finally suck”

*band director, talking to a clarinet player*
“you know, Brandon’s too confusing of a name. your name is now Johan”

“IF YOU PLAY SONIC BOOM ONE MORE TIME I WILL EVISCERATE YOU”

“oh you’re so cool, with your mirror baritone selfie”

*saxophone player, looking into the distance, in a southern accent*
“my diaphragm hurts”

“WHY ARE YOU RUBBING HER ELBOW”

“okay, so it started out by arguing about who had the better ass…”

*band director, addressing the band*
“you guys are like lemurs. you follow me around, and when I jump a cliff, you do too. except, without the cliff part”

*talking to a Mello player who had a concussion*
“I guess you could say you play perCUSSION now”

“it could be worse, the tuba could be on fire”

“okay but this section shouldn’t be HEY! it should be more like heeeeey”

“I pronounce it peep or peh-pay depending on the weather, the position of Mars, and how many caribou can fit Ito 3.7 square miles”

“if we’re a family can I be the distant estranged cousin from France”

“if you don’t feel like you could pass out right now you’re not doing it right.”

Band from what I've experienced this year
  • Flutes: unsettling rivalry between each player; the competitive seating only makes it worse. Feels like there's a ":)))))" after each sentence.
  • Piccolo: "I've been playing for years" but sounds like a broken dog whistle.
  • Clarinet: Best friends with the band teacher. Finds interest in making weird noises with their instrument, super cool.
  • Bass Clarinet: Very small compared to their instrument. Usually really quiet.
  • Oboe: Wasn't their first choice. There's probably only one of these guys.
  • Trumpet: LOOK AT ME!! LOUD!! LOUD!! *AGGRESSIVE TRUMPET NOISES* wait what key signature are we in.
  • Saxophone: Super Jazzy. Cool hair.
  • Tenor Saxophone: The one kid everyone "bullies"
  • Baritone: Really passive players but they always sound good so you can't complain.
  • Tuba: *plays melodic parts despite being a tuba* what's good.
  • Percussion: There isn't enough funding for everyone to have an instrument. They have to take turns. Probably forgot what a scale was over the summer. Players fail to realize that stick bags are personal so sticks get lost or broken.