Instruments up. Embouchures set. Backs straight. Feet together. The drum major’s hands rise, and a collective breath reverberates across the practice field. Her hands hit the first count, and a wave of sound washes over all present.
Faces contort, bending the pitch into tune. Diaphragms contract, forcing air through the instrument. Eyes focus, following the drum major’s every move.
This is the Leesville Marching Pride, and that was only the warm up.
Each day during fourth period, the Leesville Marching Pride treks out to the practice field to begin rehearsal. Though many of them are already weighed down by the strains of a busy school day, each member must give 100 percent for the rehearsal to be successful.
As band members trickle onto the practice field, the group of junior and senior boys designated as the “equipment crew” rush the xylophones, bells, and other pit instruments onto the sidelines.Once everything’s in place, the equipment crew run to join the rest of the band on the field.
As the percussion and colorguard practice of to the side, the wind players form a circle around the drum major and proceed through their warm up.
The drum major’s hands come down; the air resonates with the last chord of “Eventide.” There is a momentary silence, and time seems to stand still. “Top of the show!” yells the drum major. “Top of the show!” the band responds, in a collective high-pitched singsong voice as they race to their spots.
Every member understands–it’s time to rehearse. There will be time for joking around, telling stories, and laughing, but now it’s time to focus because marching band is by no means a simple undertaking. There are no substitutions, no timeouts, no exceptions. Everyone gives it their all, or no one succeeds.
With everyone in their spots, the drum major ascends the podium. Her hands rise and the band follows suit with their instruments. “One, two, one, two, three, four!”
The band leaps into action, feet hitting the ground simultaneously, lungs pumping air through their instruments. There are no longer musicians on the field, there is a band. A collective unit with a singular purpose.
Curves, boxes and lines dance across the field. Instruments blend together into a kaleidoscope of sound. And in the blink of an eye, the runthrough is over.
A chorus of heavy breathing rings across the field. After almost nine minutes of continuously marching and playing under the hot sun, even the most seasoned veterans feel the pangs of exhaustion.
Despite their exhaustion, many feel a fierce pleasure in conquering the challenges marching band presents. But all understand that there are always things to be fixed–there are always mistakes to be learned from.
The drum major drops her hands. “Can we set up in picture 20 of the fourth movement? That form didn’t quite set.” The band members shake off their exhaustion and rush back to their spots, ready once again to give it their all. For each member understands that through blistering heat, numbing cold, voracious mosquitoes, aching muscles, and complete exhaustion–the band plays on.