Dear neighbors who are unhappy with the sounds of a high school marching band rehearsing near their house,
I’m sorry that this is a problem for you.
I’m sorry the band isn’t allowed to use rehearsal fields that are further away from your homes and is forced to use whatever campus parking lot space they have access to.
I’m sorry that the noise from their proximity interferes with your life to the point that you feel that a solution to satisfy yourself must be found at the expense of the students.
I wish I didn’t have to be sorry.
I wish that you would find minimal, rather than maximum discomfort in the situation.
I wish you would walk outside your homes to visit the band, not with stones and PVC pipes but with curiosity and an open mind.
Should you choose to come over to the school to visit one of these offending band rehearsals, here are 5 basic things you may learn about high school marching bands:
- Marching bands play LOUD. That is what they are supposed to do.
- A typical high school band student has been preparing to be in marching band for FIVE YEARS. Instrumental music programs start in 4th- 6th grade usually, with marching band being offered starting in 9th grade. This isn’t a novice activity.
- Band is hard. Yes, those kids are sprinting, doing a funny dance, and playing their instruments at the same time. They’re good at it, too.
- They’re good at it because band is a competitive sport. They compete every weekend from late September to mid November, culminating in a championship competition. High school band is no joke. These are the big leagues.
- Bands provide entertainment and support at football games and pep rallies in addition to pursuing their own competitive agenda. Therefore, kids are doing band at least 4 or 5 days a week, in addition to their other school and home responsibilities. Time management develops as a survival instinct for band kids.
Perhaps you become intrigued on what you expected to be a brief visit.
Perhaps you sit down and you watch the rehearsal continue as the sun falls down and the cold creeps in.
Perhaps when practice is over, you find a student and ask them about their experiences.
As you continue to expand your knowledge, here are 4 more things you may learn about marching band:
- Every member carries a personal importance to the ensemble. A marching show is basically a theater production with 20, 40, 80, 300+ cast members. There’s no such thing as a bench warmer or a JV in marching band.
7. The skills that kids learn in band help them for the rest of their lives.
It’s less about becoming great at playing your instrument while moving around the field and more about learning how to do something that requires great attention to detail perfectly.
It’s less about winning a championship and more about learning how to win over your own confidence.
- Band creates family. Kids who spend weeks doing band out in the hot sun, cold rain, and icy snow don’t leave each other behind. Band saves lives and will continue to do so.
- Band is about taking the energy and effort of many and combining it into one unified entity. Everyone has a unique job to do, but for a band to succeed, each member must put the good of the whole before their own interests.
Did you know that you, the neighbor, are part of the success of the band?
A band cannot operate without the success of its community.
Many people volunteer their time with the band. They mend uniforms, build show props, provide meals and snacks for the kids on long days. They cheer for them in the stands at every game and competition.
We know you have your own life. We know you have never been in marching band and feel that because of your inexperience you will never belong.
However, you live so close by to the high school that you ARE part of this community, and we welcome you to it! It does, of course, come with responsibility and a sense of teamwork.
When you insist that the marching band must rehearse elsewhere, you must realize that there is no other place for them to rehearse. Should you push the issue until they must stop rehearsing all together, you have not fulfilled your responsibility.
When you insist that the marching band must shorten and move their rehearsal times, you must realize that if they do so, they might not receive the time nor instructors that they need. Should you the push the issue until they cannot rehearse enough to be successful, you have not fulfilled your responsibility.
We know the drums rattle the walls of your house. We know that the instruments are blaring in the evening when all you want is some peace and quiet.
It is important for us all to become experts in finding the positive in a negative situation.
Instead of agonizing over the sound every evening, why not bring Gatorade to the rehearsal field after practice is over? You will make many friends.
Instead of calling the police over a scheduled high school activity, why not come to a football game or competition to see what the band has been working on all this time? They would love to show you what they can do!
Dear neighbors, you can make a positive difference in the lives of these kids, just as they make positive differences in the lives of each other!
What will you choose to do?