10 Ways That Marching Band Changed My Life


When I started high school, I was determined to be on the volleyball team. I played for the local rec team and thought that I was pretty good. When I got cut during the first round of tryouts, I thought my life was over until I met a girl who probably doesn’t know how thankful I am that I met her.

At the end of my freshman year, she told me that I should try out to be in the color guard, which was something I had never heard of. I figured, why not? Little did I know that color guard and marching band would become a huge part of my life.

Practices for “tryouts” started at the end of the school year and happened every so often during the summer. I learned how to spin a flag and dance very quickly and with ease. After doing color guard for the rest of my high school career, I realized that this was something I wanted to continue doing in college, so I did.


I learned a couple things along the way:
  1. Marching band taught me how to be a leader without having a title. My senior year of high school, I wanted to be color guard captain. Sadly there was one girl more qualified than me, and she got it. Although I wasn’t the designated leader, I was more of a mentor to the newer girls than the captain would ever be.
  2. It taught me that fear is all in my head. Often times, I would tell myself that I can’t do something, because I have never done it before. Whether it was a quad on sabre or learning a new instrument. Once I could convince myself that there are people who aren’t afraid of doing something, I was able to push forward and be confident.
  3. It taught me that a smile can go a long way. “Fake it until you make it” was something commonly said in the color guard. If you don’t look like you are having fun, then your audience won’t enjoy the show. And if you’re pretending to smile, eventually that will turn into a real smile, or at least it did for me.
  4. It taught me to never be late. You may or may not have heard the saying “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late.” This could not be more true. The band doesn’t wait for anyone. And if you’re late, you will run laps.
  5. It taught me how to relieve stress. Whenever I was having a rough day with classes, I always found myself in the band room, spinning a flag to loud music or jamming on the marimba with my headphones in, not to be bothered by anyone. No matter what happened, when I was in my musical zone, nothing else mattered.
  6. It taught me that it is all or none. Even if you are on your a-game, the band might have a horrible show. That isn’t necessarily your fault, so understand that and don’t take it personally. The only way to ensure that the goal is accomplished is to build up everyone.
  7. It taught me how to have pride in something larger than myself. When you are part of an organization, you represent them even when you aren’t in uniform. In college, I lived and breathed marching band. I was proud to be “that band girl”. It wasn’t just me though. I was proud to be a part of something.
  8. It took me out of my comfort zone. During college, I wanted to quit marching band because I hurt my ankle. But instead of letting me just leave, the director insisted that I learn a new instrument. I wasn’t so sure at first, but within 3 months, I was ready to start the season as a percussionist, something I never thought I would do.
  9. It forced me to appreciate all music. Classical or jazz, pop or old-school rock, marching band brought a lot of music into my life. Every band member puts their all into every piece of music performed, whether they like it or not.
  10. It gave me friends. Marching band was my clique in high school. Marching band was my social group in college. It consists of diverse people bonding over their love for music and performance. I joined the band sorority, where I met my best friends. I am definitely the most thankful that it gave me a place to be myself and where people accept me, the quirky engineering girl who never thought she'd fit in.

Being part of this group, in high school and in college, taught me a lot. Whether you are in a similar situation as me or not, finding something you are passionate about will always leave you with a lot of life lessons, challenges, and friends.

My question for you, the reader: Have you been part of an organization that has left a footprint on your heart? I’d love to know your story in the comments.

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