Reading Kelly’s post about her best moment at SNOWCon reminded me of my own feelings during marching band performances. I’d often be racked with nerves, bladder about to burst, and heart racing just before stepping onto the field. The time spent waiting for the previous band to finish was painfully long. When the other band finally exited the field, I had to force myself to run across the field to set up my equipment.
While I was getting things into place for the show, I always looked for the bright blue section of the stadium that was our contingent of band parents and friends. Even at the biggest performances in college stadiums, I seemed to be able to find my family every time. It was calming to see them and know they were cheering me on to do my best.
Once everything was set I would give a last minute hug or word of encouragement to the other colorguard girls and band members. Then a voice would boom over the speakers, “North Hardin High School Marching Band, you may take the field.” The drum major would start up the band and I would begin to count and move with the music.
After the first 20 counts or so, the nerves left and muscle memory took over. My equipment would glide through my hands, up into the air, and back again with ease (usually). I would keep my head up to the crowd and the judges with a huge grin, but I rarely noticed them during the performance. At times it felt like a quick blur. Other times the world seemed to freeze just as my flag or rifle came down and I was unsure whether I would catch it.
It was a rush, a high unlike anything else. When the last note rang out and the show was finished, a wave of emotion would rush over me. If I did well, it was pride and sheer elation. If I did bad, it was reproach and frustration. Both usually resulted in tears, especially my last year in marching band.
Then there was a quick rush to snatch up all the stray flags, rifles, sabres, and uniform parts and get the hell off the field so we wouldn’t get points deducted. After dumping everything outside the field, the guard would get together to share our triumphs and mistakes during the performance. We often did this doubled over and out of breath. We would try to gauge how the band did as a whole and to prepare for how the directors and instructors might react. The directors would give a short speech about how we did, but we would have to wait till the awards to see how we stacked up against other bands.
I loved performing and I miss it to this day. There’s something so satisfying about gliding through the motions after hours of practice and showing off your abilities. I also loved translating the music and work given to us by the instructors into my own style of performance. I was always good at matching my face and body movements to the music. There’s such a release in it that I haven’t found elsewhere. It also doesn’t hurt being the center of attention!
I’ll never go back to marching band or colorguard, but I do hope to perform again through dance and in some part my ATLOSCon talks. Writing about it reminds me how much I got out of it.
Here’s my senior year show. I’m the very first colorguard girl (in red) in the line left of the 50 at the start of the show: