Hate it or love it, the first day of school is right around the corner. And, if you’re a proud member of your school’s marching band, so is the marching band season. Whether you’re dreading band camps and after school practices in the hot sunshine or football game performances and never ending parades, getting back into the groove of marching band can be difficult, especially if you’ve had the entire summer free from both school and marching band. From physically getting back into shape to preparing your instrument for fluctuations in temperature and humidity, here are some tips for preparing your mind, body, and instrument for the next few months of your life.
Since marching band season typically begins at the tail end of summer, temperatures will be hot and, depending on where you’re located in the United States, quite sticky. Whether you’re headed to band camp or afternoon practices, you’ll want to wear light shorts and a relaxed tank top or t-shirt. Don’t worry about dressing to impress- leave your cute dresses and stylish button downs at home, as you will sweat.
When choosing your outfit, be aware of the dress codes followed by the band and the school. For example, if your school normally has a rule against spaghetti straps or shorts above a certain length, check with your band instructor about his or her specific rules. In many cases, the band instructor may choose to be lenient on dress codes during late-summer bootcamps, as the heat can be excessive. PS- don’t forget the sunscreen!
Protect Your Instrument
While being comfortable is important for you, it’s important for your instrument, too. Depending on which instrument you play, you may need to take special measures to protect it from extreme temperatures and humidity. If you’ll be forced to play your instrument in the rain, ask your band instructor for specific advice on how to best care for your instrument. Learn how to tape down your mouthpieces for practices, and how to properly prepare your instrument for a performance.
Last but not least, learn the proper way to set your instrument down. If you accidentally set your instrument down the wrong way, you can damage its delicate keys and valves. Although you may be forced to set your instrument down on the ground from time to time, remember that a protective case that’s specifically manufactured for your instrument is the most safe and secure place to keep it.
Marching Band is a Sport
Regardless of what you’ve heard, marching band is an endurance sport, and endurance should be your main focus. If you’ve slacked off during the summer and can’t imagine walking even a few miles, you’re in for a big surprise. Did you know that at certain points you’ll be walking 10+ miles in the blazing sun, all while lugging around a heavy instrument? For this reason, you’ll need to prepare yourself physically for the marching band season.
To best prepare yourself, start “working out” about six to eight weeks before your first rehearsal. Although running is the best way to build endurance, your daily workouts should also include strength training, and plenty of stretching. Some options for strength training include push-ups, leg lifts, and jump rope, but take a look online for some options that may be better catered to your preferences
Don’t Quit Private Lessons
Just because you’re heading back to marching band doesn’t mean you should discontinue taking private lessons. If you’ve been taking private music lessons during the summer, you’ve likely made lot’s of progress. Do you really want to take away from that progress by skipping lessons for the next few months?
If you’re a serious student who is considering a future in music, you need to continue private lessons year round in order to truly excel at your instrument. With that in mind, you don’t need to necessarily keep the same exact schedule. If you’re currently taking lessons twice a week, speak with your music teacher about reducing that to once a week during the marching band season. As long as you keep the private lessons going at some level, that’s all that really matters.
Be On Time
Punctuality is one of the most important aspects of being in a marching band. Not only does showing up on time show the instructor that you’re committed to the program, but it’ll save your section from having to run laps or otherwise being punished by your instructor.
If you’re a freshman and have never been part of a marching band before, remember this mantra: early is on time, on time is late, and late means running laps. Also, being late to a marching band rehearsal isn’t like being late to a movie: if you’re late to a rehearsal it won’t end at the time it was scheduled to- it’ll end later to make up for the time that was wasted waiting for you to arrive. And, trust us, you don’t want to be the one who makes practice run late!
Have Fun & Make Friends!
Joining a marching band is like joining a brand new family- your band mates will be there for you through thick and thin, and they’ll always have your back. Get to know your classmates, your section, and whoever else is sitting or standing next to you in formation. You have a love for music in common already, so who knows whatever else you’ll be able to connect on. Although it’s perfectly acceptable to make friends and talk with your band mates during downtime, avoid talking when you’re setting up formations, at attention, or listening to the director provide instructions. Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself! The memories you make will last a lifetime, and the time you spend in marching band will help prepare you for the rest of your life.
For even more information about marching bands, check out the Top Lessons You’ll Learn in Marching Band.