When it comes to music and the marching arts, the mellophone doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“Wishing each other a ‘Good luck’ and ‘I love you’ before we perform makes me feel really lucky to have her with me,” says Erin Walton, a junior in the Sherman (Texas) High School Marching Band. She’s talking about her twin sister, Amy.
“I can’t pinpoint my favorite memory; it was just all awesome,” says Kate Arnica, now 21, who was a member of the Brunswick (Ohio) High School Marching Band. Her teaching assistant on the field at the time? Her older sister, Megan.
“I will do everything in my power of teaching and leadership to make their dreams come true,” says Duane Minnick, director of bands at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia. He’s talking about school kids but also his own kids—his trumpet-playing daughter and his son playing percussion.
Whether it’s sisters, or brothers and sisters, or fathers and sons, or fathers who had fathers to teach sons, there are families in the marching band ranks. Siblings and parents find connections not only with Sousa marches but also with their own blood after they all play another hearty rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Beaming With Pride
Isabelle Edwards, 16-year-old mellophone player for the Prince Edward County High School band in Farmville, Virginia, got hooked on the marching arts when her middle school band director showed the class some Drum Corps International videos. She went home, did some Google searching and found a video of the Phantom Regiment from Rockford, Illinois. “I had to march,” she says, after watching all the videos.
Marching right behind her is her 13-year-old brother, Benedict, who is now in the same band. “It’s really fun to watch the newbies figure out that however hard marching band may be, you’ll always have fun,” Edwards says.
Her favorite memory? Their first game marching together. “I think we really enjoyed getting to be proud of the other.”
Pride—a common denominator when your blood is marching with you, or for you. “I felt a greater sense of responsibility when [my sister] was on staff,” says Arnica. “I wanted to make her proud of me!”
Pride. “One of the best things about it is being able to share some great times with my best friend,” says Walton of marching with her sister.
Pride. “As a grandfather, I’m just so proud of the kids,” says 81-year-old Gene Dunn, a drum major years ago, who became the father of Eric Dunn, a band teacher at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, who teaches his own kids. “Some day, my grandchildren will probably have their kids in band,” Gene continues.
As for now, the grandchildren enjoy time in their dad’s band. Joella Dunn, a 16-year-old, has no regrets about her decision. “My dad is the band director, so I was sort of forced to join, but I ended up loving it,” she says. “I had to do something that my dad loved.”
For Eric Dunn, who is also co-director of Stryke Wynds, “Taking my kids to [Bands of America Grand] Nationals in 2013 was incredible,” he says. “Being their director and watching them perform soon in Dayton at the WGI Percussion and Winds World Championship is going to be hard to top.”
Pride. “It is not always easy being a band director’s children,” says Minnick, who for 12 years was a performer for the very Phantom Regiment that inspired Edwards to be in band at all. But, he says of his kids: “They have learned life lessons of patience and using extra time wisely. They handle themselves with pride and maturity. I am very proud of them.”
Minnick will be swelling with pride next year when both of his children perform with Briar Woods in Hawaii for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He believes, already, that it’ll be the proudest moment of his teaching career. “Knowing that my two children can be a part of such an important event by using their musical talent is the reason I became a teacher.”
As for Minnick’s 12-year-old son Brody, he enjoys performing for his number one fan. “I love to play the drums,” Brody says. “I can’t wait to play and be the best drummer on my dad’s drumline.”
Dave Marvin’s family resides in Colorado. Dave is the percussion director for Northglenn High School in Westminster, Colorado, Longmont (Colorado) High School and the Denver Broncos Stampede Drumline. His wife is an instructor as well. They’ve taught their two children and countless others.
Their kids are now pursuing music careers of their own. Taylor Marvin is a student at Berklee College of Music. “We all had a common experience and a common love,” Taylor says. “We all support each other and understand.”
Chandler Marvin is a front ensemble instructor living in Denver. “Marching with my family has permeated all aspects of my life,” Chandler says.
For Dunn, his father played tenor sax and sang a lot in church. “My father’s father would just start singing at the drop of a hat,” he says. “Neither of them studied music; they just loved it.”
For the Arnica family, it was their father who introduced them to music. “My dad played the trumpet; we’ve all played the trumpet at some point in our lives now because of him,” Megan says.
For the Walton twins, “our parents were both very involved in band when they were in high school and college and encouraged us to pursue marching,” Erin says.
Nothing But Love
One would think that having a sibling—particularly a younger one—in the same band would be annoying. Then again. “One of the most annoying things about having Benedict in the same group as me is that I always have to bring my A game,” Edwards says. “I always have to do my best!”
For Megan Arnica, teaching her younger sister, “It definitely took a lot of maturity on both our ends, but Kate has always been wise and mature for her age,” she says.
For the Waltons, “Since Amy is in color guard, we can’t really be together as often as we might want to,” Erin says.
Where is the dysfunction? Where is the frustration? Where is the embarrassment? Nowhere. The field runs deep red with familial love.
Whether it’s teaching your little brother a chant in Virginia or watching your daughter perform at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida; whether it’s awarding your little sister a medal at a Bands of America regional championship or simply running a victory lap after the football team wins another game, it’s family. It’s thick with a love of music and the marching arts as well as each other.
Eric Dunn perhaps says it best. “I feel like the marching arts have provided strings of memories that, once you start to pull, seem to be the fabric of the memories of my whole life.”
“I feel like the marching arts have provided strings of memories that, once you start to pull, seem to be the fabric of the memories of my whole life.” – Eric Dunn
“I think we really enjoyed getting to be proud of the other.” – Isabelle Edwards
“I can’t wait to play and be the best drummer on my dad’s drumline.” – Brody Minnick
“I will do everything in my power of teaching and leadership to make their dreams come true.” – Duane Minnick
“I felt a greater sense of responsibility when [my sister] was on staff. I wanted to make her proud of me!” – Kate Arnica
“Our parents were both very involved in band when they were in high school and college and encouraged us to pursue marching.” – Erin Walton