Nov 01 2011

All I needed to know I learned from (marching) band

This past weekend Tom and I got to sneak away to the state marching band championship at the university where we met. ‘Cause, you know, nothing says “romantic weekend without the kids” like sitting in a football stadium for ten hours in October. Part work, part play, completely fun time. And it got me to thinking, as I tend to do when my brain kicks off its shoes, about how being in band taught me life lessons that have stayed with me through thick and thin. I wrote them down, sending the crazed band parents around me into a frenzy, wondering if I was some sort of marching band scout for the soon to exist Professional Marching Band and Karaoke Bar. I only marched in college, but learned these lessons well.

  • Sometimes absolute perfection is the only way everything comes together.
  • Hard work is to be embraced.
  • Listen.
  • Everyone is important and necessary to the success of the outcome—there are no benchwarmers in band.
  • The more you practice excellence, the more you want it and the better you get at it.
  • Get in the parade, don’t just watch it go by.
  • You’re only as good as your last performance. (And I do realize this isn’t entirely healthy in all cases. Trust.Me.)
  • When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Listen.
  • Subtle nuance can be more powerful than sheer force.
  • If you make a mistake, move on. Learn from it, but move on.
  • Support each other, you’re all in it together.
  • Listen.
  • Live in the now–once the music fades away, that moment is gone forever.
  • Creativity is not just desired, it’s vital.
  • It’s not enough to look good, you have to be good.
  • Everything works better if you start with a deep breath and focus.
And sometimes you meet your soul mate there.


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  1. Ann (MoCo)

    AAaaaaaaah. Jen – you summed it up perfectly. Tonight was the end-of-season party for my 17yo 2E’s marching band. As a senior, it’s also the end of his h.s marching career (tho my fingers are crossed he’ll get into the university – and the MB of his choice). Such a happy and bittersweet time. I have LOVED reliving all the wonderful meekness of MB, this time as one of the MB moms. So, are you going to sell this on a t-shirt or a poster (I’m in!)

    1. Ann (MoCo)

      Crikey – did I type “meekness.” WHOA NO! Geekiness, the wonderful GEEKINESS of MB (speaking for myself, of course). Meekness — what kind of MB is meek? ROFL.

  2. Sarah

    It’s great when people ask where Hubby and I met, I can say “This one time… at band camp” and then through in “I played flute.” People think I’m joking! LOL!

    It is amazing the life lessons gleaned from Band!

  3. Mommyprof

    I met my husband in band, too. I really like your list!

  4. Accidental Expert

    Ah…how sweet. Love the list. Glad you had a fun time.

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