I’m a band geek and proud of it!

Ashley Winward

Band Geek. A stereotype that has been passed down the high school food chain for generations. While some consider the stigma to be negative, those who have devoted their life to the band wear it with pride. I’ve been in marching band for nearly a decade and of all the reasons, moments and experiences, I’ve decided that these are the five reasons (in no particular order) being a “band geek” is truly better than anything else.

UNH marching band (Photo provided by Sheehan High School)
UNH marching band (Photo provided by Sheehan High School)

1.The Experiences: Being in a marching band opens you up to a lot of experiences that “normal” people never get to experience. In my band career, I’ve been able to perform at places like Shea Stadium, Citi Field and Disneyworld. Those long bus rides, going behind the scenes at some of the most interesting venues and all the sights that nobody knows about make for unique experiences that bring bands closer together. There are very few people in this world who can say that they led Mickey Mouse to Cinderella’s castle! Think about any Grammy performance or VMAs or music video that a marching band has randomly showed up in; nine times out of ten times, that’s an actual established marching band that officially have a better party story than you.

2.The Jokes: No, I’m not talking about “this one time at band camp” kind of jokes. I’m talking about which sections are nothing, but treble and how every show has to have a good nacho moment. Musicians, and more specifically marching band kids, pretty much have their own language and its fun to have those inside jokes that nobody will understand. Even just mentioning a set number could send someone into a fit of laughter (or maybe that’s just the exhaustion talking).

3.The People: For those who think all band kids are “nerds,” I would like to start out mentioning that people like Gwen Stefani (flute), Bill Clinton (saxophone), Jimmy Kimmel (clarinet) and Steven Tyler (trumpet) have all been band kids at one point or another. Even within the past year, I’ve gotten to geek out with one of my personal idols, Cody Carson of Set It Off, about which clarinet reeds are the best. The people you meet in marching band are one of a kind (for better or worse) and I am proud to say that some of my best friends, and lifelong friends, are friends I made in band. You really get to know people when you spend the equivalent of two days a week with people for months on end.

4.The Feeling on The Field: When I think about this, I’m always brought back to the same show. It was my sophomore year here at UNH and we traveled to Stonehill, Mass. for an away game. They sat us in the end zone in folding chairs because we weren’t allowed to sit in the stands. Upon walking onto the field we were promptly booed by the entire crowd; never in my life had my band ever been booed upon entering the field. I was shocked, to say the least, but there was an energy in that performance like no other. By our last note the crowd was up on their feet cheering and dancing along with us. Being able to have that effect, that impact on people, is unreal. As a performer, in any musical discipline, there is no better sense of euphoria than hitting a section that hasn’t been sounding right or nailing a shape and having the crowd react to it. I live for that moment and to know those moments are coming to an end for me is really hard.

5.The Music: One of the things we really stress here at UNHCMB is the fact that we all come from different walks of life. We represent nearly every major on campus, all have different backgrounds and personal things going on and yet all 220 people come together on weekends and twice a week, putting everything else aside, and join each other on the sidelines to make beautiful music.
It’s what connects us: the love of the music. It’s the reason we walk in step with strangers at the grocery store, why we can’t hear a certain song on the radio anymore without doing the visual from three seasons ago, why we’re constantly meowing rhythms in our heads. We love music. It doesn’t get much simpler than that and I love it.

So the next time you see someone fumbling with their case across the quad or a flock of grumpy looking band kids walking up to North at 7:30 a.m., on a Saturday morning realize that this isn’t just some cute little hobby, but a lifestyle. It’s a passion that I wish everyone could experience just once in their lives. Then maybe this “geek” stigma might go away or, better yet, be applauded. There may be rough seasons and long rehearsals, but I wouldn’t take my decision back for the world. Rock on band kids, happy banding!