Marching through misconceptions


Photo by Kathleen Tran

Marching band members run through their piece in preparation for their performance.

Katrell Readus, Reporter

     Marching band is an activity that gives students the opportunity to evolve their musicianship and technical skills through practices that often start before the morning dew has set on the ground.In an average year they are able to show off their hard work after many practices under the lights of the football field and at contests. 

     Marching band conductor and band teacher Chad Kohler is confident that COVID-19 will not hurt recruitment too much for their upcoming season, though it did limit their previous one, preventing them from going to competition. 

     “Two years ago we were at 272 on the field; last year, when we were all in shut down mode, we opened registration and hit about 240,” Kohler said. “We saw a surge of people excited to get out of the house and back into normal because they knew what marching band was and they knew the excitement of it.” 

     Despite the optimism, he also thinks that enduring a year of the coronavirus has left some students with some reservations about joining.

     “I think because of being in a COVID year students are a little more hesitant than they were last year,” Kohler said. “I think our numbers will be down a little bit but we are still seeing a ton of excitement and enthusiasm, so I know we will come bouncing back. If our numbers don’t hit the previous year’s of 270 that’s okay because we know we will build an incredible ensemble.”

     Kohler states  that seeing the excitement from the student he directs is great, saying that throughout his seven year journey as director himself and other staff have watched a lot of growth in terms of the production value of how the band comes together. 

     Kohler believes that the energy created by anticipation for the show is something to feed off of to become more enthusiastic about what is to come.

     “I think what’s exciting about the students is that when we give them show hints or production hints or share the music and some of the visual design you see the look on their faces and that just reaffirms. We’re getting excited because they’re getting excited and because their excited”   

     Marching band is an activity that is often subject to misconceptions that Kohler wants to correct.

     “Everyone thinks we rehearse all the time. We rehearse a lot, but we don’t rehearse nearly as much as sports teams,” Kohler said. “what we do is rehearse effectively and efficiently. To be effective we work in our own isolated areas so when we come together, we can maximize our time.”

     He also hopes to rectify an additional misconception about marching band.

     “The other misconception is that everyone thinks that marching band is just a bunch of band kids just walking around the field, it takes a lot of physical energy that’s required of marching band members, there a lot of dance training, choreography training, marching, and playing training as well as breathing training, a lot of emotional and mental training. There’s a lot of training in terms of tying music together so it hits the cerebral, intellectual and aesthetic front. It’s not just music, it’s really trying to tell a story through emotions.”

     Though he is aware of these thoughts that some people may have about this program, he isn’t concerned about them affecting student interest or levels of participation in it.

      “Whenever we perform, or whenever we take the marching band over to the junior highs for one of their band concerts, eyes are wide open, and everybody just can’t wait to be in the marching band.

     Freshmen Marching band member Adeleine Thomas feels that the energy on the field during practice and performance is a positive one.

     “The vibes on the field are honestly really good, everyone is supper positive and motivating to everyone else, but we all still maintain a high level of focus,” Thomas said 

     When practice picks up this summer, returning students will have the opportunity to meet the newcomers, and Thomas says she is looking forward  to doing so.

     “I’m super excited about welcoming new members, and I am really happy they get to come into a normal year, I think they are going to love it,” Thomas said, “I know the show will be amazing this year.”

     Thomas has some words of advice for incoming band members.

     “Honestly, it looks scary at the beginning and might feel like you’ll never get to the end, but just push through, everything will go great and we’re all here to help you.