American Band

Monday, August 20, 2007

Thirty years after Kristen Laine marched in her own high school band, she returned to her home state of Indiana to document the lives of the Concord High School Marching Minutemen for her new book, American Band.

Purchase American Band: Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland at

Weigh in: We want to hear from you if you were (or are) in a marching band. How has the experience shaped your life? And what was your favorite band routine?


Kristen Laine

Comments [5]

Tom from Morris Plains, NJ

I was in marching band through high school and college, and marched in drum corps for 4 years, aging out in 1987. I met my wife, now a band director herself, in drum corps. Although we homeschool our daughter (as a growing number of public school teachers do), I hope she too has the opportunity to march, because it can indeed be an immensely positive experience almost unexplainable to those who haven't done it.

I think it was short sighted, but not unexpected, for Leonard to suggest that students join band when they can't make it into sports teams. I certainly didn't see it as a consolation prize when I performed for President Reagan 6 times.

Bands and corps in the NY metro area are not what they could be, and that's too bad, especially given the arts wattage of the area. My wife marched with the Phantom Regiment, from Illinois, which had an army of volunteers who opened their homes and wallets for the corps. I marched with the Cadets, then from Garfield, NJ, who had a much smaller volunteer base, and virtually no community recognition. Sadly, the Cadets, the nation's oldest (1934) and winningest drum corps has since quietly moved out of NJ, to Allentown, PA. Perhaps it is the NY metro pace of life, the isolation of extreme work weeks required to pay high mortgages, that tends NOT to foster the extensive parent support required by any great marching program.

Aug. 21 2007 10:48 PM

I was in marching band for three years and I absolutely loved it! However, I found that some other members of the band were not putting forth any effort. I grew tired of being the only one in my section playing.
I do not regret my decision. I loved marching-though I hated the sound of the metronome-and I loved playing-though I didn't always like the pieces. I hated football games but loved marching band competitions. Some of these bands are absolutely awesome! It's amazing, 100 highschool kids marching in unison. And the color guards-wow!
MArching band and cheerleaders have an ongoing fued. Who gets the spotlight? When do they cheer, when do we play? And why do we always have to play the songs they request? I learned to hate Louie Louie.
Marching band does require a great commitment. We spent hours practicing, performing, and riding buses. Make sure you love what you do.

Aug. 20 2007 08:17 PM
Joe from Ridgewood Queens

I make my living instructing and writing percussion music for marching band. I have found that band kids are some of the most enthusiastic and genuine kids I have ever worked with.

Check out

Aug. 20 2007 01:21 PM
Josh from Terrytown

Colorguard members typically do not participate in the cheer-leading "sport." However, I am interested in knowing how many high school students are members of a marching band and sports teams; either simultaneously or during off season.

Aug. 20 2007 01:18 PM
Trevor from LIC

I was in marching band for one semester, and although I don't regret my experience, I had almost no fun and learned very little. In fact on the field very often I was marching with my saxophone in my mouth like I was playing, but there was no sound coming out because I was too busy attempting to count my steps and walk backwards.

This was around the turn of the millennium, when high schools just noticed that swing music had been popular five years previous; thus, our routine was completely based on old Glenn Miller songs and other standards like "Sing Sing Sing".

Aug. 20 2007 01:04 PM

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