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How I Got Started In Marching Band

Looking back on my childhood  I realize how, in some form or fashion, music has always been an integral part of my life.   As things ramp up for the marching band season, I began thinking about how people get involved in the world of marching, so I asked a few Pepper colleagues how they got involved in marching band.

What they revealed was pretty interesting.  Share with us what got you interested in taking to the field!

Chris Schuman, Accounts Payable:

My older sister played saxophone in our school marching band and we would always go watch them perform at the home football games.  The marching band director at the time had been one of my elementary music teachers so she started talking about playing in the marching band years before I was even in high school.  When the time came to join the marching band I was asked to switch from trombone to tuba because there was only one tuba player and she was graduating at the end of the year.  I made many close friends in marching band over the years and I have a lot of fond memories of those times.

Crystal Desch, Accounts Payable:

I joined the marching band in 9th grade.  I had played the flute for a few years prior and decided I wanted to be a part of our high school’s marching band.  Our band was competing in competitions every weekend and playing at all the football games, sounded fun to me! After my first year of playing the flute, I switched to the mellophone and played that through college.  I have fond memories like marching in parades at Disney World and of course some not so fond memories like falling in a mud puddle during a show at a competition — (which I still laugh about today!)  I could not be happier that I joined;  I was in marching band for four years in high school and for three years in college.  The friendships I made while in marching band are still with me today.

Amy Stahl, Marching Band Editor:

I joined marching band as a flute player when I was in 8th grade.  About half way through my first week of band camp, my band director came seeking my help.  There was a percussion feature planned for our show, but we only had one bell player and her part was the harmony.  He asked if I would learn the xylophone part to cover the melody.  Since my best friend was the bell player, how could I say no?  He said it wouldn’t be a problem for me to march the first tune, play the second tune from the sideline, and then hop back into my spot to finish out the show.  He was so impressed with how quickly I picked up the xylophone part that he asked if I would play the whole show on xylophone.   I never looked back!  I spent the rest of my high school marching band career and most of my college marching band career in the pit.  I enjoyed playing mallets so much, I went on to major in music education in college, with percussion as my major instrument.  If my band director had not asked me to switch instruments all those years ago, I might not have found myself at J.W. Pepper as the marching band editor.  I truly believe his decision set me on my life’s path.

As for me, my love of baton twirling brought me into the marching band world.  I started taking baton lessons in third grade and continued up to high school as a member of a group called the Terry Hopple School of Twirling, located in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  The group consisted of an outdoor marching corps and an indoor corps.  We called ourselves The Young Americans and we had the opportunity to march in a few parades including the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC.  We competed in baton competitions in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  We also had the very good fortune of performing halftime during a couple of the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers games in the era of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley.  What I liked most about being a part of the Terry Hopple School of Twirling was that we performed more than just parade marching routines.  Our instructor developed baton twirling and drill routines that included a lot of creative and artistic moves, in much the same way a marching band or drum corps director would develop moves for their groups.  We did shows to the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, performed a tribute to the Olympics and more.  The late Terry M. Hopple made sure we practiced the shows a hundred times it seemed, until they were flawless, just as a drum and bugle corps would do.

I eventually earned a baton twirling spot and became a member of the Henderson High School Marching Band where the majority of the girls also belonged to the twirling school.   And, so I found myself participating on the field, representing my school, and having a great time with wonderful friends!   So, how did you get your start in marching band?

Heidi Norris
A Vocalist and a Concert Opera Philadelphia Company Board Member. Earned a M.S. Degree from Full Sail University (July 2010), and B.A. In Music from Immaculata University (May 2006). Works in the Accounts Payable division of J.W. Pepper.

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