Nostalgic for marching bands

That's me, Minnesota Transplant, two people to the left of the bass drummer and already 6 inches taller than nearly every other other musician.

That’s me, Minnesota Transplant, two people to the left of the bass drummer and already 6 inches taller than nearly every other musician.

For whatever reason, nostalgic or warped, I love marching bands.

In fifth grade, I began learning how to play the snare drum, and I remember dragging my rented drum five blocks to school for lessons. Eventually, I graduated to a practice pad, which was significantly lighter (and quieter).

In high school, I marched in the drum line, first with a snare drum strapped around one leg Revolutionary War-style and constantly bruising the other with every step (this was before modern drum harnesses — yes, I’m that old). Later, I played the glockenspiel, sort of an upright metal mini-xylophone played with a hard plastic mallet (no more bruised knees).

The picture above is from the Memorial Day Parade in 1981. Pay attention to the bass drum image and the footwear in this picture. Yes, I graduated from a high school before the age of political correctness; we were the Wadena Indians. The school has since adopted a Wolverine mascot. And can you count the number of Nike swooshes in the picture? I remember coveting those outlandishly expensive shoes for a long time before I got to own a pair (hey, $28 was a lot of money in 1980).

In college, I met my first husband, a musician with a talent for marching percussion. He eventually taught high school drum lines, and I watched more parades than I can count in those years. After the demise of that marriage (read my memoir “The Percussionist’s Wife” for that description — it’s a long story), I suppose I should dislike marching bands.

But I don’t. I still admire the dedication to marching in step, the perseverance required to march in 90-degree weather and the music (I’m a sucker for brass instruments).

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.

~ Plato

Blogger’s Note: I dug this photo out of an old album, scanned it and doctored it up with a filter from PhotoFunia. See more photos representing “Nostalgic” here and follow the comments.

7 responses to “Nostalgic for marching bands

  1. Ahh! Great memories of my marching band. Yes, I too played the drums in the marching band. And yes, it was also strapped to my leg. I also played the sax in the orchestra. Those were the days. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Marching bands are my favorite part in every parade, I wanted to get as close as I can. I wanted to feel the beating of their sounds, like literally feel it, haha! Great entry for the this week’s challenge.

  3. Hey, I was in marching band, too, in the 60’s! Now THAT’S old.
    I played flute and piccolo in concert, but loved carrying that piccolo out for a good Sousa march. That was back in the days when band teachers thought we should march to actual marches. I loved the crazy drum cadences our guys would come up with. (That also was back in the days when gals did not do drums, although we did have one clarinetist who carried the “glock” when we marched. But she did that because she was boy-crazy…)
    And talk about politics–our school colors were red and gray, so our marching uniforms with tall fuzzy hats and spats and the WORKS, were a medium gray color and we called ourselves the Dixie Gray band.
    Loved precision marching. Do kids even have the brains for that these days? 😉

  4. Have you ever seen the movie Brassed Off? I had no idea a brass band could sound so sweet! The first tune they play in the movie took my breath away!

  5. Future topic – Marching Bands causing “gaps” in parades due to the focus on performing rather than marching. Editorial in last Sunday’s St. Cloud Times on the issue, last year in Albany the marching band was told just before they stepped off that either they skip the performance and just march or get pulled until the end of the parade. The kids
    chose to wait. Raised a big ruckus among the band parents.

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