Billings (Mont.) Schools Stop Marching

Strike out the band—the Billings (Mont.) School District 2 high schools will no longer offer marching band programs starting this September. Pep and concert bands will continue.

The three high school marching bands would each perform a 10-minute show at two home football games per year. Snow or single-digit-degree weather prevented performances about onethird of the time over the last 10 years, and the bands were not competitive because the closest competitions would have been at least a six-hour drive away.

“Basically they just marched out on the field and played, then took a few steps, then played some more,” says district music/art coordinator Scott Corey. “So rather than putting the band out on the field at all, they’ll just be in the stands as a pep band like they are for any other game. They just won’t be on the field for those two games. They’ll just play music for the cheerleaders or dance team.”

The story went national when Corey was quoted in the Billings Gazette saying about marching band: “Personally, I think it’s a waste of teachers’ time.”

Now Corey qualifies his statement: “With these limited opportunities to do shows because of weather or whatever, what I said was that when they put in that much time it becomes a waste of their time that way,” he says. “What I should have said was that they could have a better use of their time working on their fundamentals.”