Why would anybody practice from 8:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night for 11 days in sweltering August heat before school starts (practice music, field drills, practice music, field drills, practice music, field drills, eat, sleep, and do it again the next day)?
Why would you lug around a heavy instrument—sometimes running, sometimes marching, a lot of times dancing—two hours a day, five days a week, and eight hours on game days?
Why would you get up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday so you can practice at 6:00 a.m.; perform in the parking lot for a dozen tailgaters at 8:30; join 319 of your best friends to sing, dance and play in front of a couple hundred people at 10:20; perform again in front of a thousand or so football fans at 10:40; play, march, and dance some more for a crowd that isn’t paying attention because half of them are leaving the stands to get a beer and a hot dog; and then take the field again at the end of the game to sing and play music while the fans are leaving?
Why would you wear an itchy wool suit with short pants and a goofy hat with a plume when it’s 60/88/33 degrees and sunny/humid/sleeting and chant stuff like, “Eat ‘em raw. Eat up the (opposing team name goes here). Eat up the guts. Spit out the bones. March on.”
Because of the sheer joy of playing music you like with people you like.
Because it feels good to be part of something bigger than yourself.
Being in marching band isn’t exactly about school spirit, although that plays a role.
My favorite marching band geek tells me that after spending 500 hours a season with these people (marching, playing, hanging out, sharing a house, marching, playing) they’re your family. You may not like every one of them all of the time (and a few you won’t like ever, at all) but you love and depend on them. You’ve been through spat camp and freezing post-Thanksgiving games and bowl game trips with them. You’ve learned countless life lessons in band. He says, “There’s very little in life that’s quite the same as band and very little that will give me as much as this band has given me.”