For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Dec 05 2015
by Alexa Marzina

7 Ways College Marching Band Has Improved My Freshman Year

By Alexa Marzina - Dec 05 2015

Upon entering college, one of the most frequent pieces of advice given to freshmen is to get involved in activities. One of the absolute best activities to join when going away to college is marching band. Hands down, college marching band will change your life for the better and has numerous benefits for college students, and particularly helps freshmen adjust to the college life. The benefits are physical, mental and emotional, not to mention that band is also really fun. I am a member of the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band, and I am so in love with it. It is most definitely my favorite part of college. So, if you don’t know how to play an instrument, it’s never too late to learn, because college marching band is an amazing experience that will build both you and your resume up. Some of the most notable benefits are as follows.

1. Mandatory Exercise

It had to be said. While band is not always strenuous, marching and playing definitely takes a decent amount of effort that you’re required to exert (plus you have to walk to and from practice—bonus!). Think of running the show more than once as a chance to get even more exercise because let’s face it: in college, going to the gym is definitely not at the top of a lot of students’ priority list.

2. Instant Friendships

One of the biggest struggles a college freshman may have, especially if going to a college far away from their hometown, is making friends when they get there. It can be intimidating to be outgoing and social and try to introduce yourself to strangers in a new place. But, band is a wonderful place to make friends. You’ll most likely be spending time with these people most days a week, so friendships are usually effortlessly made. A connection to another bandie is as simple as someone who plays the same instrument as you. Given there’s at least a few that do, there are automatic friends for you. Once you get more comfortable, you can start branching out and introducing yourself to people in other sections, and pretty soon, 90 percent of your friends will be bandies (and you’ll love it, trust me).

3. Solid Schedule

Realistically, yes, a typical college marching band will probably meet 3-5 days a week and will have practices that are at least an hour or two long, in addition to football games and whatever other performances you are scheduled for. This may seem like a big commitment, and it is, but having these mandatory events, at least for me, helps set a solid schedule. For example, my classes this semester all end around 2 o’clock, and I usually have band practice at 6 o’clock. So, if I’d like to get to bed at a reasonable hour, I know that if I have homework, laundry or anything else important to do, I need to do it after class and before band. This may seem obvious, but for a total night-owl like me, sticking to a schedule can be hard to do, but band really anchors which times you have free, so all-day Netflix binges don’t really have the chance to ruin you academically (or socially!).

4. School Pride

In high school, it was probably very easy to have high school spirit with mandatory pep rallies and rivalry sporting events and just being connected to your hometown in general. However, it’s a little bit harder to get connected to a college, in my opinion, if you go about it alone. Most colleges are bigger than high schools, and that makes it easy to get lost in the shuffle of things. Also, many students don’t even go to college in or near their hometown, so it can be hard to connect to a brand new city. Being in band makes it literally so easy to have spirit. After performing at your first football game, you’ll understand. You’ll be cheering for the team amongst (hopefully) your new friends, and you’ll really feel like a part of something.

5. Self Confidence

Marching band is not easy, but it’s not impossible to pick up for the first time in college. Whether or not you marched in high school, you will most likely have to adapt to a new style of marching in college and learn the new ways you’ll be doing things. It may be frustrating at first, but when you can finally remember how to put on your uniform by yourself correctly (something I still can’t do to be honest… stupid side jacket zippers) or march all of your drill spots or memorize that difficult piece of music you’ve been struggling with for a while, you’ll feel awesome about yourself. And for college students, even small victories are victories, and it’s good to feel good about yourself any time you can.

6. Band Makes You Smarter

That’s right! Studies show that playing a musical instrument can make you smarter. So, if you’re thinking that joining an extra activity may negatively affect your grades, think again. It’s been said that playing a musical instrument specifically helps improve math abilities, since music is essentially playing notes to assigned numbers, so if you’re struggling with math, maybe joining band can give you the boost you need!

7. Leadership Opportunities

In any organization, there always has to be someone, or multiple people, “in charge.” In marching band, there’s a variety of different student leaders depending on how the band is structured: squad/section leaders, drum majors, (co)captains, etc. Granted, most of these positions are not available to freshmen, but, once you learn the ropes and put in the time, one of these positions may become available to you, and it would look great on a resume. A lot of college bands have a lot of participants (Pitt Band has almost 300!) and leading that many other students, or even a fraction of that amount, really shows good leadership abilities. That’s a quality that a lot of employers are looking for, not to mention teamwork, which is also a given in marching band. Win-win!

There you have it, seven reasons why college marching band is awesome and beneficial to any college freshman, or any college student looking for another activity! Personally, I can say that being in band has definitely made my freshman year a lot easier and fun so far. I have a lot more friends than I ever could have expected to have had I not joined something as big as Pitt Band, and I really do love it. Marching on a field in front of a bunch of people is really awesome and indescribable, and it makes all the hard work worth it. I’ve loved my time in band so far, and am eagerly awaiting the years to come that I have in band.

Lead Image Credit: Harry Bloomberg Photography

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Alexa Marzina - University of Pittsburgh

Alexa is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in nonfiction English writing and pursuing a certificate in American Sign Language. She also plays clarinet in the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band. One day, Alexa hopes to own at least three corgis. Follow her on Twitter @alexa_lou and Instagram @_alexalou

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