Tom Tom Tries: Marching Band

When three Tom Tom Staff members try marching band, the results may be surprising. *Photos by Steffanie Richardson*

MERRICK FOOTE: Watching marching band all these years and hearing people’s thoughts on it has conditioned me to think of it as an easy activity. However, after trying to do it, I have realized it is very difficult. The premise is simple: you walk around a bit and blow really hard into a piece of metal. While it sounds like an easy thing to do, I learned that when it comes to marching band, the difficulty comes in the details. Initially, when I practiced with the marching band, I was not required to actually play an instrument which made me think that all I would have to do is walk around and try to copy what everyone else around me was doing while carrying an instrument called a mellophone. This ended up being one of the most difficult tasks I have attempted so far in high school. I found myself constantly tripping over my own feet and running into my bandmates. There was an extreme feeling of frustration when my phone fell out of my pocket right in the path of another line of instrumentalists who were following behind me. There was a terrifying moment when I thought someone might step on it, but the crisis was averted when I scooped up my phone before they had the chance to do so. For the most part, the marching band members were very nice and inviting. Both Adalia Tate and Ashutosh Atre made me feel very motivated to do well, and Adalia even let me shadow her during the rehearsal. As the practice neared its end, I got a special opportunity to play the cymbals. The time came for me to play, and I rocked my cymbal solo. The feeling of playing an instrument in front of people, even if it was for only three seconds, was exhilarating. In recap, marching band is much harder than it looks, and I definitely have a newfound respect for everyone who is capable of doing it successfully.

JOHN PETTY:  When I was told that I would be participating in my first ever ‘Tom Tom Tries,’ I was honestly a little nervous but also intrigued. Knowing that I would be trying marching band, I really did not know what to expect because I know very little about playing instruments, let alone marching at the same time. My first task was to ‘try out,’ so to speak, various instruments, some of which I couldn’t pronounce. I tried to hold up a baritone and it was one of the largest instruments that wasn’t part of percussion. I put my arm through and I was standing there and nearly fell off balance due to a weight that I hadn’t anticipated as well as how top-heavy it was. Next, I was asked to hold up a mellophone and shadow a marching band member as they went through the movements of a routine. The first thing I noticed was that there were specific ways to maneuver that included precise footwork as well as tremendous timing. I ended up shadowing Jeff Horton, a senior that I am friends with and he really helped me out. As the routine started, Jeff would walk slowly and then speed up, changing directions sharply and sometimes randomly towards me. He informed me on when to hold my instrument and when it was proper to hold the trumpet down and out in front of my body. Holding an instrument in the air for that whole time was much more difficult than I expected and my shoulders were very tired afterward. Overall, I was extremely impressed with how organized every single aspect of the marching band was and also every member was extremely supportive of one another, as if they were being paid to do so.

KEVIN TAMAYO: Getting the opportunity to try marching band was definitely one to remember. The surprising thing about the sport is that most of the activities we tried were difficult. Carrying the percussion was actually very challenging. Hauling those humongous drums across the field was not easy, it really puts a resistance on your back that the average person is not used to. Band is already confusing enough, just imagine adding sudden and still movements while performing. The difficulty of marching band is unquestionably underrated because of the fact that there are so many motions that each participant needs to remember. One thing that I noticed is that a marching band works like an oiled machine with all of the parts working together; if some of the parts don’t work then the entire machine will not work. This experience made me gain respect for the marching band because of all of the things they have to do just to perform at a football game halftime show or competition.