Marching band photo gallery

By Jessica Gelzer, 15, Granada Hills Charter HS
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The alarm clock rings at 5:30 in the morning. I get to school at 6:30 and arrive at my home away from home—the band room. I shove past the dozens of other band members assembling their instruments and walk past the trophies, a reminder of our successes that justifies getting up so early. Every morning, we practice from 6:45 until 8:30. And that’s in addition to after-school practices twice a week and performing at football games and competitions. After morning warm-ups is my favorite time—marching to the football field down the halls filled with the judgmental stares of my peers! I love the people who throw trash cans to block our path or squirt soda at the little guy in front of me. I especially love the guy who thinks he’s funny lifting his knees high and dancing as he follows us. Note to anyone who does that, it’s not funny.

Once we get on the football field (which we call the band field) you can see why we earn P.E. credit for marching band. To create the shapes on the field we must march to spots 20 yards away, while rolling our feet in tempo and constantly blowing into our horns and moving our fingers to the memorized music. This is where the clip is taken of marching bands you see on America’s Funniest Home Videos, where a tuba player trips and creates a domino effect of clarinets getting trampled by trombonists in the mud.

Memorizing all our music involves tedious work during sectional rehearsals and at home. Sectionals—all the people playing a certain instrument rehearsing together—are the fun part because you’re with some of your closest friends in band and you can share your musical knowledge with each other.

All of that energy is directed toward competitions. Our first competition this year was Oct. 9 at our school. We did a run through of our show to warm up for the competition later that day. In the afternoon we dressed in our kilts which represent our school mascot, the Highlander. We embrace the Scottish traditions by eating haggis (a Scottish delicacy which tastes awful) at our banquet at the end of the year.

After getting dressed we helped set up for a few hours before the start of the event. During all this I felt excited and nervous as we prepared to debut our show for an audience. Our performance turned out great, as did the other schools’. The feeling of success made the sweltering days of band camp and the early mornings worth it.

Of course, there is more to band than competing. There are the everyday rewards like our friendships. There are your friends who help you get through the band drama, which is just like the drama of high school (first boyfriends, jealous friends or just finding yourself) with a band twist to it. My section, the piccolos, has sleepovers. Some may say it’s just the band geeks sticking together to survive the food chain of high school. But we say it’s true friendship.