Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Marching Band is more than just music

When I was in High School it was strongly suggested that I join my High School marching band because my cousin needed a friend with her. I didn’t want to be part of the marching band. Being in the marching band isn’t cool. Forget the fact that the only musical instrument that I can say with certainty that I could play was the radio and that was hit or miss if you could get the radio tuned in to the stations. Mr. MacLean the music instructor at my high school embraced my none musical talent and found a way to have me participate in marching band, ensemble and jazz band. I organized his office, made sure the practice rooms were clean, uniforms were in order and made sure all the equipment made it onto the bus for football games or competitions or out on the field. In time, I was curious in learning how to play an instrument cymbals were already taken by someone that knew left from right. The long and short of the story is that I wanted to be part of of that magic on the field. I learned how to play the Timpani (kettledrums), Chimes and xylophone not instruments that you have often seen in a marching band but were included so I could participate.

The reason for this personal story is because on ESPN today had a segment on a Blind marching band from the Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Panthers and the football team from the Ohio State School for the Deaf. The opening line had me hooked , “I look at obstacle as opportunities for learning”. This is such a wonderful expression of how all individuals approach an obstacle. The only barrier to a person participating in an activity is the limits we put in place. Everything is a possibility until you have exhausted all possibilities to achieve participation. Watch the video at

Being a member of a marking band isn’t just about making music. When a marching band takes to the field they are there to entertain your senses. They want to make you feel, hear and see the music. A marching band moves around the field by counting steps forward, backwards, sideways and diagonal. It is as choreographed as a dance routine. The trick to movement is timing. Everyone has to try to move in sync otherwise collisions are possible. The Ohio marching band operates with guide volunteers for the members that need support. The musical talent move around the field like the masters of music they are while their guides offer support when needed and they become part of the routine. The band has demonstrated that individuals with visual disabilities can participate in an activity that requires coordinated movements because they took the obstacle as a possibility instead of stopping point.

This marching band proves that it takes just one person looking at an obstacle to make things an opportunity that so few ever get to experience regardless of ability. It takes a lot of heart and determination to step up and say I can do this, I want to do this and I will do this. Everyone can participate in music even if like me you have no sense of musical talent, you can still be part of a wonderful group of people if you just open yourself to the possibility.

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