High School Marching Bands–more specifically, Texas HS marching bands in lucrative areas is a culture and a world of its own. Though HS marching band can promote dedication, hard work, team work, etc., often times, it does so to many detriments.
1. Many High School Marching bands spend close to a million dollars on their marching shows. Some schools have new uniforms every year in order to cater to the themes of their shows. Many even have two sets of each of the brass instruments to appeal to aesthetics. Why schools need a set of silver and a set brass lacquered trumpets, mellophones, tubas, and euphoniums is beyond me. Talk about expensive! It’s not about learning anymore. It’s about repetition and grinding the kids into the ground. And, of course, doing so in hopes of winning everything.
2. Many times the directors find loopholes around the UIL eight-hour per week restriction limit. The kids will go to school, then have a four-hour rehearsal after school, then have to be back at school the next day for a 7 am rehearsal. The directors then question why the kids aren’t performing better. After, all, aren’t they rehearsing enough?? Someone needs to educate many band directors on the importance of well-being, health, ample sleep, and also to remind them that the kids have homework and lives outside of band.
3. Working hard does not mean you are getting anything accomplished, nor does it mean you are working smart. Many times the directors push rehearsal times so late that nothing really gets accomplished. Yes, the kids are on the marching field from sun up until dark, in the middle of summer, so the directors assume they are working hard and getting much accomplished—-no…no…NO….They are working the kids past their ability for productivity and retention. So, in essence, the directors are working against themselves–against producing the results they want, because the kids are too exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically to focus and retain what they are trying to teach or to pound into them. The directors themselves look haggard, are at the school from 7 am to 9 pm every day, and sometimes later. How is this good for their health?? By the end of the season the kids are so run down that many of them end up with walking pneumonia and have failing grades in multiple classes. This doesn’t seem to be a recipe for success to me. One of my best students said she messed up in her performance because all she could think about was her 34 average in physics because she’s had no time to study, and because they’d missed so many classes due to out-of-town marching contests.
4. Also, don’t the directors want to go home and sleep, see their families, eat a good meal, or decompress? I admire the directors’ dedication and intent. However, I don’t think their schedules, follow thru, or their methods are healthy. Again, working hard does not = working smart. Working hard does not = productivity or results. Working hard is merely one component to being successful and to achieving what you wish. If you work so hard that you can’t function, that you can’t retain anything, and that you can’t enjoy anything, then what are you really accomplishing?