Once a band parent. . . .

Always a band parent.

I thought my days of being a marching band parent were over. After all, Aaron is no longer a Newberry College student and does not play in the marching band. Both boys are no longer members of the Mid-Carolina Rebel Regiment, either. I thought I had retired.

That is, until my older son became the director of a high school marching band. And so it begins again. At least, I don’t have to attend the Friday night football games from the end of August until mid-November. I don’t have the chaperoning duties. I don’t have to make sure that uniforms are sent to the cleaners every week or so (depending on how much they sweat in those wool jackets).

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But I’m finding myself traveling to marching band competitions all over the state of South Carolina again. Two weeks ago, I sat in the stadium of Charleston Southern University to cheer my son’s Latta Marching Vikings to fourth place in the Lower State Marching Band Competition. This past Saturday, I sat in the stands while the Marching Viking Pride took seventh place in the State competition. I am proud of the young people and, of course, my son, who works hard to inspire his students to love music and performing as much as he does.

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Marching band is as strenuous as just about any sport, I think. It certainly requires a great deal of coordination. Students have to memorize their music and be able to play while counting steps and time signatures, marching, and staying in formation. They have to be aware of their location at all times. In addition, they have to attend to matters of technique, both in their playing and in their marching. They have to learn to listen to each other so that they are keeping time and tune as well as appropriate volume so that the instruments blend. After all, the line from Drum Line says it all: “One band, one sound.”

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As for me, I may complain about driving two and half hours across the state of South Carolina to watch a twelve and a half or thirteen minute performance, but what I see is more than just a performance. I see eighty young people who have devoted their time and talent to performing, to supporting each other, to developing leadership abilities. I see young people learn to cooperate. I see young people learning to respect each other. I see the future of the country.untitled-34

And you know what? I am optimistic because of these young people, not just in the Latta High School Viking Marching Band, but in the bands of all the schools in this state. These young men and women are our future.

I love conversation, the close, intimate kind amongst friends. Won't you join me? I look forward to a good coze.

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