It’s almost fall, so that means it’s time for marching band. In a few short weeks, bands all across this land will climb aboard their big yellow chariots and traverse over hill and dale, performing for crowds and hopefully becoming better musicians in the process. The sights and sounds of marching band are always interesting to say the least. One of my favorite things about the marching activity, aside from the numerous educational and social benefits that my kids reap, is meeting the people that come to the marching band contests. An interesting bunch these folks are, let me tell you. Having had the good fortune of taking bands and performing at countless marching band contests in several states around the south and mid-west, I can tell you that though each of these contests and places are different, they all posses similar sights, sounds and people. In fact, I can nail it down to seven people that you will see at every single marching contest that you will ever go to. So, to make those long Saturdays a little more enjoyable, I have devised a game. It can be used to break up the monotony of the long and ruthless Saturdays. Look for these people at every contest you go to this year. Fun for all ages!
1. The Angry Band Director
Despite his/her band’s performance, the angry band director is not satisfied. The reason for their ire may be warranted. Perhaps the band failed to perform up to their full potential. Or maybe it’s something as simple as the concession stand ran out of Frito Pie. In any event, the wrath can not be hidden. You’ll usually find them near their school’s bus yelling. Or they might be in the hospitality room drowning their sorrows in luke warm can of Diet Coke, praying for the aspartame to provide a swift and painless heart attack.
2. The Historian
There is always a person who seems to be there with no intention of watching a particular band, school or student. Yet, despite their lack of affiliation, the historian will be very quick and willing to pontificate on the finer points of marching band, as well as give insight to the history of each school, band director, and piece of music. For example the historian may say something like this, “That band played Scheherazade pretty well, but they can’t play it nearly as good as North Central High School back in ’94. They were awesome.” Their knowledge of band history is irrefutable, don’t even try.
3. The Angry Band Parent
“WE. GOT. SCREWED!”
If you don’t see the angry band parent, then it may be you.
4. The Percussion Director
The percussion director in it’s natural habitat is an interesting thing. You may accidentally mistake them as homeless, and in some cases you may be right. Most percussion directors are intelligent, friendly, and educated creatures. Some of course, are not. If you wish to engage them in conversation, approach slowly so to not startle them. It’s best to know their language. Start with something simple. A phrase that they will recognize hearing. Something like, “Man, it’s tough to get them to pull their heights down on triplet rolls.” They most likely will nod in agreement. Also, if you are interested in acquiring their scent so to better blend in with their herd, then Camel menthols will do the trick.
5. The First Time Band Parent
Without fail, it’s always someone’s first time being at a contest. If you witness a first time band parent, please help them out. They aren’t hard to spot, they can usually be found loading the wrong trailer, escorting kids to the wrong bus, or incorrectly carrying equipment. They will no doubt stop to tell you about how it’s their first time being here, and their child is just so excited to be in band. They will likely point their child out, he won’t be hard to spot either.
6. The Professor
Results? They are all wrong. The professor has a far better understanding of how it SHOULD have gone down. Have they been to music school? No. Have they ever been a band director? No. Can they play an instrument? Of course not. But daggum it, they’ve been there since the gates opened, and they know a lot more than that guy up their with the master’s degree. The only reason the band that won scored so well is because the judges-brother’s-wife’s-sister-used-to-date-a-friend-of-a-guy-who-was- college-roommates-with-the-band-director. Clearly there is a conspiracy. Just ask them, they will tell you.
7. The “Why Don’t We” Band Parent
This band parent has a far better idea of how to do every thing. “Why don’t we do this next time?” “ Why don’t we take this route home?” “ Why don’t we add some visuals in for next week?” The “Why Don’t We” parent is always there to provide suggestions, but curiously absent when someone is needed to pull or load the trailer.
Sometimes the “why don’t we” band parent can lead to the angry band director. If you see this in an outing, give yourself a bonus point.
So there you have it. The next time you are at a boring, seemingly endless day at the marching band contest, bust out this little game to play with friends. You can even wager on it if you are the gambling type. Loser has to buy the Frito Pie-assuming the concession stand still has some.