Congratulations! You are graduating high school and plan on attending college in the fall! Many choices are going to be presented to you and decisions will have to be made.

  • Your major.
  • What classes to take.
  • Which meal plan to select.
  • Who is going to be your roommate and in which dorm will you reside.
  • Do you join the band.

Let me answer one of these questions for you. YES! Join the band! I do not say this for the benefit of the college directors and their ensemble growing in number. This is about you – the one that has spent a great deal of the last four years riding on a bus to and from ball games, contests, and other events. For you – the person who built relationships with others that you may have never met otherwise. You – the one who enjoyed the atmosphere of performing. Here are a few reasons why I believe participating in marching band (or concert band for that matter), regardless of your major, is beneficial.

J Corey Francis, Eastern Illinois University Marching Band

Build a community of support while away from home/in a new stage of life.

One of the best benefits from participating in marching band in high school is the relationships you build with other people. These are the ones you hung out with after school and shared some of your most secretive and embarrassing moments with during these formative years. Your time is college is no different, except the people are from all over the state or nation, not just your community. And, many of you will be away from home.I have witnessed students flourish and fail in college, and all have one thing in common: the support system they created.When you attend college, you want to feel as if you are at home. Finding a way to build a support system become crucial, especially during the first few weeks on campus. Those students that I witnessed build a solid system of friends succeeded while in school, especially compared to those that did not find their community. Many college marching ensembles will have camp a week before classes start. While the time in rehearsal is important to prepare for the season, it is the creation of friendships and the knowledge of campus the allows freshman band students to walk around in comfort on Day 1 of class.

Become part of the college spirit and traditions of your school.

Each college and university has it’s own vibe, it’s own spirit. For many schools, this is shown at its greatest during athletic events. Part of that spirit is the band. When they play the fight song, fans sing. When the drums play cadences, they dance. When the band cheers, many of the fans will join in. The band performs an important role in the overall spirit of campus. And, it is through participation in band, the students feel that they are part of that spirit and become attached to the school in a way that is deep and long-lasting.

Continue playing for fun.

You spent many years performing in marching band in high school. What would you do with that time now? Seriously. You worked crazy hours in hot weather or in liquid sunshine (my high school director’s term for rain), to perform 8-10 minutes of music while running across a football field.

Let’s be honest: none of us started playing in band back in 6th grade (or 4th or 5th) because we thought it was going to be hard work and stressful at times. We wanted to play because it looked like fun. We would be in parades and people would cheer for us! We loved listening to music on the radio and dancing along. We just wanted to be part of the fun. And then we had to learn scales (which are extremely important, but that is not the point now). And then we had to do playing tests. Our directors would get frustrated because we were not performing up to standards. Band was hard work. I am not saying band is all fun and no work in college. It takes time and effort. However, college bands are more interactive during games. They dance. They cheer. They play!!! And, you are with your friends.

What are you going to replace marching band with in college? Many people say, “I want to focus on my studies.” This is a valid and important concern. Most of those same people often came to me during the beginning of the semester proclaiming how much they miss marching band and that they want to join. The benefit for many students in this situation is learning to improve time management and balancing studies with marching band or other activities. (NOTE: STUDIES ARE THE REASON YOU ARE IN SCHOOL. I AM NOT SUGGESTING TO IGNORE STUDIES FOR MARCHING BAND…..EVER!!!!)

It’s fun! You do like fun, right?

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