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  1. #1

    Default Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I am 27 years removed from high school as I watch my freshman son conditioning for soccer and sharing field space with the Band that I field-conducted as a senior. We had 105 instruments, flags, and a crew of student assistance.

    The current marching band has 24 players. No flags. All the talented musicians are afraid to be seen in Marching Band.

    The stereotypical joke shared by the athletes that the band is a bunch of losers is no longer defensible.

    It is apparently this way throughout my County. Is Marching Band Dead? Is this the beginning, middle, or end of the end?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Our high school marching band is growing, and all the talented musicians are in it. Only about 40 people, band and flags, but it's better than a few years ago when it was 20ish.
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  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2014 Caymen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I'm going to be a freshman in high school next year and I practice for 4 hours a day and love playing the sax. The reasons I don't want to do marching band are because (1) marching is mandatory if you do concert band in school, therefor all the kids who just want to do concert band don't take marching band seriously (because they don't want to be there) which makes it boring to me if half of the people don't put in an effort, and it takes up a lot of time.

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member belliott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    My grandson's marching band has 86 kids in it which is up very slightly from last year. They also have about 15-16 flags.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I guess to be honest I'm not a huge fan of marching band, but I feel like I owe it to the band because we're so small and we need as many people as we can get. An yes, it takes up too much time.
    (alto) SA80I - meyer 6m - jodyjazz hr* 6m- rovner dark - vandoren 3
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    Forum Contributor 2011 thadnoland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    It depends a lot on where you live. In the south, Texas, or the midwest, marching band is still a major component of most HS music programs. Where I grew up in New York, marching band is an endangered species - which is a shame. Although I don't agree when band programs put too great of an emphasis on marching at the expense of other musical outlets, I certainly don't believe that marching should be eliminated from a program. It's important for band directors to remember that the marching band is the most visible part of the program to the community at large. And there is some educational value to stomping around a football field (especially for percussionists). As to marching taking up too much time, too bad.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    We had these tall bear skin hats, that I would balance a liqueur bottle on my head under the hat and when seated in the stands would pass around my fellow musicians.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member artstove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I think DWoz is right, it depends on where you are. That said, I HATED marching band. The requirement that all concert band members play in marching band was part of the reason I stopped taking band in high school after my sophomore year. I wanted to play, not march. I didn't want to wear heavy wool and vinyl uniforms, get inspected for spat adjustment and hair length, and try to play while stomping around the football field dodging baritone horns. Think of how good the music (and musicians) would be if you took all the time spent for marching practice and used it for playing practice...

    I was fortunate to find other places to play - community musical theaters, chamber music workshops, etc. (I was playing clarinet at the time.) I wonder how many young musicians stop playing as a result of marching band. Of course, in some places, marching band might attract more players. Sounds like a PhD dissertation for an ethnomusicologist or sociologist or something...

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Our marching band is smaller this year, but only because the band program is smaller as a whole. It's strange, we still have a lot of pride in our marching band at my school and our rival school, but a lot of kids dislike concert band. Me being a saxophone player, I preferred concert band by a lot. This year I'm drum major though so I'm psyched for marching band, too, but I do think marching band and saxophone don't go together

  11. #11

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I'm a senior in High School, got Drum Major when I was a sophmore. My freshmen year the band had 170 people, soph year 150, last year 123. My Band had 400+ people in it at one time. I'm not doing Marching Band this year, and to be honest, it's a big waste of time. My dad is a professional conductor who studied with Bernstein, Solti, and Paynter...if I want to conduct, I'll learn from a real conductor, not someone who sat in a lecture class of 150 people and learned "how to conduct". Marching Band just got boring for me. It's more about the show aspect than the music, which didn't sit well with me. All of the good musicians at my school have taken similar routes.

    At the beginning of the summer the band went on a "retreat", and in the 48 hours they were gone, I practiced 16 hours...that was the only reason I needed for me to know I made the right decision.

    It doesn't help that our Directors have a bad rep...which they rightly earned...They have a very competitive "if we don't win we loose funding! We HAVE to WIN!" thing going on...I'm not in music for the money or to "win"...it kinda sucked the passion right out of me.

    That's just me...and my stupid marching band rant...

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by artstove View Post
    think of how good the music (and musicians) would be if you took all the time spent for marching practice and used it for playing practice...
    yes!!! +10000000000000000

  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2014 Caymen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by artstove View Post
    Think of how good the music (and musicians) would be if you took all the time spent for marching practice and used it for playing practice...
    I just need to convince my parents that I'll be better off not doing marching

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    You could ask if high school music is dead. Marching bands for football games are likely the only thing keeping it alive for the most part. Be thankful that tradition has held on this long or we might not have many future players even considering wind instruments.

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    Forum Contributor 2011 thadnoland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caymen View Post
    I just need to convince my parents that I'll be better off not doing marching
    Marching Band Scholarships paid for my Bachelor's Degree. I didn't take out the first loan (Until I came to Berklee - Ouch!!!)

    So, it can be well worth the time & effort.

    You will be playing your horn constantly and that is never bad.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    In the Pacific northwest, marching bands are not a big deal and not usually mandatory. On the subject that Grumps brought up, jazz is the music that is keeping HS music programs alive out here. When I was in high school the jazz bands in the area were all traveling the world and playing at major festivals. Most of the HS music students from the area that go on to study music, study jazz. This includes 2 kids headed to Juilliard this year for jazz perf from Seattle alone. As of a few years ago high school music programs were growing so I'm not worried. People seem to realize the value of participating in school music programs, if for no other reason than to appear well-balanced to the top universities they attend.

    As far as I'm concerned, marching band has simply been replaced by jazz out here. I'm totally cool with that.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Depends on where you live. My high school
    marching band had 250 plus about 30 color guard. The school got split in half and the band went down to like 160 all together.
    People don't like marching band because it is mandatory to be in special ensembles. Also, in many cases marching band takes away LOTS of possible practice time.
    As for being nerdy, my high school solved that by having the hottest girls in the band or color guard. Consistently had either prom queen or homecoming queen come from band/color guard. Senior yer the drum
    major was homecoming queen and a woodwind captain was prom queen.
    The key to popularity in high school is being around all the prettiest girls I think! So, that might answer all of your questions from my turn of the century high school perspective!
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by JaredG View Post
    It's more about the show aspect than the music, which didn't sit well with me.
    Of course it's about the show. My attitude towards MB (one which I try to hide depending on who I'm talking to) is that it is more important for a band to look good than to sound good. Marching band is about entertainment. Music in general is about entertainment. It tends to upset me when people ignore the entertainment value of classical or jazz music in the name of "art." I take music seriously (I'm nearly finished with my doctorate), and it's safe to say most of us here do, but that doesn't change the fact that a night at the opera is good ol' fashioned entertainment. MB is no different - put on a fun show.

    BTW, DCI finals were tonight. Blue Devils won, but I think my favorite show this year was Phantom Regiment.

  19. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Member artstove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    I probably could have dealt with it if it was just playing/marching for the football games. The entertainment part I understand. It was the parades that really got to me - these adults acting like petty martinets or wannabe drill sergeants inspecting your spats and your buttons and your hair. Just let me play, dammit...

  20. #20
    Forum Contributor 2010 ChiefThndrTongue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is High School Marching Band Dead?

    When my son dropped band his senior year, I just couldn't understand it. Who drops band their senior year??? I can't remember anyone dropping band after 10th. He said he just couldn't go through another football season. I was completely blown away to find out that about 8 other seniors quit that same year.

    Now that I've had time to think about it, I can see the where he was coming from - Rehearsals that are too long and at the wrong time of the day; hot, outdated uniforms; music that is not meant to be fun or entertaining...just music the director thinks they can get a 1 on.

    Not really much different than marching band when I was in school, but I guess kids today are different. Or maybe I was just scared of the beating I would have gotten if I had dropped band my senior year. The future of HS band depends on the director's ability to make it appealing to this generation.
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