‘Journey To Greatness’

JHS Marching Band Experience Continues After Season

The Jamestown High School Red Raider Marching Band practices at Strider Field. Submitted photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is second in a series by members of the Jamestown High School Red Raider Marching Band. So much work is done behind the scenes — planning, preparing, and practicing — that most people only see the finished project — the performance. JHS competes in New York State Field Band Conference shows leading up to the state championships in The Carrier Dome at Syracuse University Oct. 28.

Before I joined marching band, I would see movies or go to football games where bands played and wouldn’t think much of them. Like many others, I would think, “Oh, that’s cool,” and not much else of it. It looked easy. It looked like anyone could do it, even a group of trained monkeys, but it still seemed fun. Even after the first practice or two, it still appeared like that’s how it’d be. It wasn’t until soon after that I discovered how wrong I was. Putting the memorized music with the field work, all while remembering small details about what had been said weeks prior, proved to be more difficult than it had looked.

One of the largest surprises to ninth grade me was the amount of time that went into the 8- to 10-minute show at halftime. While, sure, I did anticipate that some time would be involved, I could have never imagined how much it would actually be. It started off reasonable, 2¢ hours on Monday nights. And, yes, at-home practicing was needed, but the schedule seemed to be something that would be an enjoyable addition to my relaxing summer. As you can already predict, once again, I was wrong.

Band quickly became my entire summer. Three-hour days began twice a week, then a few days of six-hour practices, but nothing could compare to the behemoth of all rehearsals — Intensive week. Five days straight of between six- or nine-hour practices. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back playing and marching out on top of the black top of the Jefferson Middle School parking lot or on the artificial turf of Strider Field. Plenty of effort, energy, and more than enough sweat was put into the production of the show that maybe a third of the crowd at a game would watch.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Why on earth would anyone in their right mind put themselves through something like that?” and the honest answer is, I don’t really know. Why does anyone put time into anything? Why do football players, or swimmers, or tennis players, put so much time into their sport? Why do people try to get good anything? While it may be different for each person, my reason, like many others, is to have a story to tell.

Not unlike any other activity, spending a large amount of time with a group of people leads to not only a few fun stories, but the close friends that come with them. The kind of friends that you talk to even after you no longer see them every day. Not only did you meet these people and become close, but you made it through long and tedious practices, both in hot months and in cold, as well as, the many other difficulties that come with the journey to greatness. The experience is something that stays with you, much like that trip to the beach when you were young, or your first job.

You remember it and the whole thing becomes an experience like no other. The presentation of the shows become unique and gain the personalities of not only the players, but all of the people involved. All of these things help make marching band into the special organization that it is. While seeing monkeys try and do the same thing would be entertaining, it would lack the sense of feeling and depth that the countless hours of practice and relationship building that come as a result of being a part of the organization we and many others call ours.