If you're a middle school parent, you might be wondering why you should encourage your child to participate in band in High School. We can assure you, high school band programs are NOT just for students who want to pursue a music degree or job after high school is over. Music programs have a variety of benefits for students of ALL kinds. If your child is in a middle school band program, it's smart to consider all the wonderful opportunities offered to them through high school band.
1. Physical Benefits
These are obvious. Marching band provides rigorous exercise. Participants undergo aerobic and cardio workouts during rehearsals and performances, as well as muscular development carrying instruments and using correct marching style. Looking to get 10,000 steps in a day? Try a parade marching band rehearsal!
2. Inclusive Participation
One of the most wonderful attributes about marching band is its inclusivity. You don’t need to play an instrument to be in marching band. There are other performance areas, such as color guard, honor guard, prop manager, etc. Often times, marching band can serve as a student’s introduction to the school band program at a time when the opportunity didn’t seem possible. In addition, students with special needs and physical disabilities can be encouraged to participate and share their talents with fellow band members and audiences.
3. Leadership and Discipline
Perhaps more than in classroom ensembles, marching band allows for students to gain skills in leadership and discipline. Uniformity of both musical and visual performance, carriage, bearing, style, and focus are required in marching band. Servant leadership is a key component to student marching bands. Section leaders, coaches, and drum majors are just some of the roles taken that can be taken on by student leadership in marching bands. These student leaders learn how to effectively communicate and offer positive reinforcement and constructive criticism to their peers. Many are also able to utilize skills in conflict management and problem solving to move the group forward.
4. Creative Performance Outlet
For students who just want to perform, marching band is the place to be! The entire performance area is a stage where performers do not wait in the “wings” for their performance opportunity to begin. Performers are required to be “on” and in character at all times. Because marching band focuses on the visual aspect of performance as much as musical aspects, all members are responsible for performing in an emotional and artistic way that carries meaning for their show.
Stage presentation is a life skill taught in marching band that is often overlooked. Marching band performers must present themselves in a way that reflects confidence and pride. The performers look is not shy. Shoulders are back, chins are up, and the performer presents a look that engages judges and audience members alike. This elevated level of presentation serves performers well later in life– such as when they need to present to a Board of Directors, lector at a church, or take a job interview.
5. Friendly Competition
Marching band offers competition that is friendly and fair. Although judging can at times be somewhat subjective, rubrics are in place to evaluate and reward performance in a way that is objective as possible, and gives credit to both content and performance.
In marching band, students learn to win or lose gracefully. Students, band fans, and directors encourage each other to do their best and recognize the effort it takes to put on a quality marching show. It is often said that “the band always wins”.
This component is one of the most important. In my role as band director, when leading performing groups across the country, I was amazed at the large percentage of students who had never traveled out of their home state or region. There are students who, due to financial and other constraints, are not able to travel outside of their city or state, and are certainly never offered the opportunity of a vacation in the summer or fall months. Marching band gives all students the opportunity to experience places and events they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.
7. Financial/Time Management
Marching band demands a student be financial and time aware. Students must know when it’s time to load, dress, warm up, perform, eat, etc. They must do all of this on a pre-assigned allotment of funds to get through the day. They must work to fundraise for equipment, uniforms, and trips. All of these skills will allow them to be fiscally responsible adults.
8. Respect of Self, Others, & Hierarchy
Marching band members can develop deep self respect, respect for others in their own sections, a thorough knowledge of their individual section role as well as what their function is in the ensemble as a whole. Without this individual development, rehearsals would be chaotic and nothing would get done to improve. As important, students must also have an understanding and appreciation for the leadership hierarchy of a marching band – from the director, to the drum major, to the section leader, to the individual performer. This understanding and willingness to thrive and improve within that hierarchy allows bands to flourish. This leadership hierarchy can be found in higher education as well as the corporate, military, and manufacturing worlds that the students may find themselves a part in post – high school.
9. Marching Band May Just Make You Smarter
The benefits of being exposed to a music education have been well-documented. Marching band utilizes all of the concepts of fine musicianship practiced in the concert hall. The wrinkle comes when you add the physical movement to the existing musical and emotional components. That truly is multitasking at its best and has distinct added neurological benefits!
Marching band offers a camaraderie that is second to none. When people experience hard work for a common purpose, enjoy the thrill of the positive experiences as well as the sorrows of defeat, they grow in appreciation of each other. Some of the best long – term friendships I have made were all developed in marching band activity at the high school and college levels as well as in my role as adjudicator for marching bands.
The above top 10 list was taken from Lane Powell (https://mmea.org/interval/10-reasons-why-you-should-be-in-marching-band/).