6 Invaluable Lessons All Marching Band Directors Teach Their Students

For one: to be on time is to be late.

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Teenage America is often misrepresented–coined lazy or clueless. But that’s not so on the marching band field. Standing in uniform, our kids are focused, driven, and continually learning essential life lessons that will go on to assist them in every walk of life.

And they have their marching band directors to thank for that.

1. Early is on time; on time is late.

Many-a-player knows all-too-well the harrowing eyes of their director when they walk into practice right-on-time. The players need time to prep on their own prior to rehearsal, which is good practice for any college class and any future meeting.

2. Time management is everything.

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Marching band students practice for countless hours, both during the summer and the fall. As a result, they must learn to set aside time for homework, for personal practice hours, and, of course, their family and friends. In a way, they’re learning to juggle–and this will follow them into an ever-chaotic adulthood.

3. Kindness and generosity go far.

Band directors teach that there’s no room for selfishness in the marching world. Each band applauds the others as they finish. Giving this respect and kindness–saying “good job” in a world that’s too often self-centered–is far more valuable than any trophy.

4. Teamwork makes the dream work.

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Unlike many sports, marching band involves a team of many-hundred players, all performing individual parts that add up to a greater and more beautiful whole. They don’t have “five starters” or a “varsity line-up.” Rather: bandmates rely on each other for the final result–win or lose.

5. Criticism is a natural part of life.

People aren’t always going to like what you do: on the field, at work, in your relationships, everywhere. And thus: when judges give critical feedback, directors teach students to use that information to make a better, more creative show. In the future, marching students will face harsh words from bosses, from professors, from peers. It’s up to them to use this criticism to better themselves.

6. Shortcuts get you nowhere.

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Striving for excellence is the central heart of every marching band. This means your percussionist must know his paradiddle from his stroke roll; the flutists mustn’t “fake” their fingerings; the trumpets have to hit those high notes with consistency. Many shortcuts create a sloppy show–one without trophies, one the students won’t be proud of.

And this, of course, applies to life. Shortcuts get us nowhere–away from the best jobs, the most satisfying relationships, the greatest happiness. But marching band directors do so much to instill this love of excellence in their students–pushing them to realize their potential in the world.

What did your marching band director teach you? Share in the comments!

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