These talented prospects are learning the importance of good conditioning. They’re gaining valuable experience in teamwork. They’re putting complex patterns into practice. With every game they understand more clearly what it means to perform under pressure.
But the talented prospects I have in mind aren’t wearing shoulder pads. And they aren’t carrying a football. They’re wearing capes and shields, epaulettes and gauntlets, cummerbunds and ascots. And they’re carrying snare drums, saxophones, tubas, piccolos, trumpets and slide trombones and clarinets.
They’re the band. They’re learning what it means to be in shape. Daily practice marching in the heat of August teaches that lesson. And if you think some football plays are complicated, try marching a precise route across the field from one pattern to another while staying in rhythm, staying in tune, and staying out of the way of the tuba and bass drum.
Sure there’s pressure in a third and long with time running out. But there’s pressure as well when any mistake you make will be seen--and heard--by thousands of people watching and listening. And the clock is always ticking. You have only so much time, and you have to make it across the goal line before time runs out.
There is the reward of knowing that if you are really good you may be recruited by Youngstown State or the University of Akron or Ohio State--or the University of Colorado or LSU. At SMU, students used to say that it was easier to make the football team than to play in the Mustang Band.
But even the students who are content to hang up the flute or glockenspiel when their high school days are behind them have a lot to be proud of. They have represented their school. They have entertained the fans. They have gotten into shape. They have gotten into synch. And they are undefeated.
From my backyard late on a weekday afternoon I hear in the distance the sound of a high school band whose motto is “Loud is Good.” Loud IS good, from Strongsville to New Philadelphia to Vermillion. Strike up the band.
Paul Gaston played drums for the S-M-U band.