It is a social forming tradition to join a club or a team or (dare I say it) a band. The cogitations of the word “band” can be formidable.
There are the jazz bands or the rubber bands or the symphony orchestra or even rock bands, but there is nothing like a ‘marching band’.
There is something special about wearing a costume and walking down the street while playing music.
Being in an orchestra means you get to dress up in black and somehow get respect from playing composers music from eons ago. In a rock band you get to play whatever you want to make noise and wear whatever you want and maybe even get some groupies. In a jazz band, you are interested in the music and not in the audience.
But the marching band has to have the discipline to march in step, wear silly hats with plumbs and outfits you would not wear to the Dairy Queen while playing everything from show tunes to the national anthem with a massive drum beat keeping you in step.
There is marching to the beat of the drum that impresses the audience with it’s precision but mostly it is just walking down the street in a parade or football game. There are songs that sound best by the marching band except when they turn the corner and you can’t hear them anymore.
What about the xylophone player or the piccolo or the bassoon or any of the reeds whom are drowned out by the brass players? A marching band is all about trumpets and trombones and tubas and a bunch of drums.
A marching band needs to be loud and brash.
I’ve never participated in a marching band, but my dad did. There must be some passion to walking in front of people, playing an instrument with the score on a little stand attached, in step with a bunch of others wear the same outfit that would never be picked out of the closet and enjoy it.
Suppose a marching band wore tuxedos like the orchestra? Wouldn’t that be classy? Well the violinist in their long dresses would probably stumble. Where are the violins in a marching band? Or the cellos? Or for that matter, how about the electric guitars? Unless a marching band is on a float, they can’t rock. Besides the extension cords would have to go on forever.
Middle America gets ready. There will be another parade and celebration of some sort and down the middle of Main Street will come a marching band. Playing loud and proud behind the color guard and some girls in short dresses twirling batons. There is usually some guy in a big hat kicking his feet up high and throwing a big stick around while he is prancing. Following the marching band will be some convertibles with signs of the dealerships with smiling girls in prom gowns waving at the crowds. There is one with the mayor. So that is what he looks like. Then another marching band will show up.
Like football teams, every school has a marching band. They are a team too with unique uniforms and plays and positions done to a musical soundtrack. And like any teams, friends are made and acquaintances who can share the experience years later even though they don’t touch their instruments again.
When you hear the whistle blow, applaud and stand up and appreciate your neighbor’s kids or maybe even your kids marching by. Take pride in their accomplishments. They can walk in step and play music.
Try that Led Zeppelin or The Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra.