A Rifle and a Baritone

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Whenever one hears a leader of some sort call out ‘Left, left, left, right, left!’, the idea of a military drill sargeant usually is what comes first to mind. The drill sargeant calls out those words in tempo to which his or hers trainees are to follow corresponding to the foot that touches the ground. In most forms of marching the left foot moves first and procedures usually end on the right foot. Militaries of all time eras and nations have been marching as a form of stategic advance or modernly as disipline and exercise. In fact it was Baron Von Stueben, America’s first drill sargeant, who said that basic fundamental marching formations disiplines a company of soldier to victory. Marching and formations are still used today in most militaries, but the other form of marching comes from marching band which in most cases don’t even know or repect how the military influences their methods.

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I, myself, have been in public school bands for six years now, and I’m going on my seventh. This year, being my senior year in high school, I was appointed as section leader of my baritone section. My fellow band comrades considered that I would implement a dramatic change to my section due to my extensive external and internal studies of the US Army. That is what happened. After spending multiple weeks at Ft. Benning, Georgia, I observed techniques and stategies used my the instructors of tomorrow’s war fighters. The large amounts of information alongside of my prior knowledge allowed me to demonstrate myself as a respectful leader. Though my of collegues criticized me over my productive results as unorthodoxed or how I like to say ‘better than your idea’, I continued onwards presenting my section and others with these techniques.

A marching band without musicianship is as worthless as burger without meat. The first phase I planned was to have my section improve their musicianship in order to overcome any musical challege that awaits them in the marching show music or even music they would encounter later. The concept could be considered obvious. What shook me the most was how the Army kept a similar connection. Soldiers in training must recieve a marksmanship badge for the M-16 rifle (the standard issued weapon) before they could graduate. Upon learning that, I sent my drum major an email considering that the band members be tested on an important piece of music. She accepted my proposition and presented it to the our director. A week later our band was cleansed of any of the unwantable at the start of the returning session of summer band camp. Continuing stategies followed such as descriptive marching lessons, motivational words, equality, professionalism, disipline, and strength. The school year has yet to begin, but the results have displayed constant success.

So at the end of it all, leaders and members of marching bands should always consider the military, perhaps the American, to their bands in its development. Many happen to sterotype military training with that Full Metal Jacket R. Lee Ermy screaming and yelling which is not how the drill sargeants work anymore. Military bands and high school bands have nearly no difference considering the obvious. Marching band members need the disipline, strength, and determination of a soldier to be succussful. Whether they know it or not, there is a soldier in everyone of them.

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A Rifle and a Baritone, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.