The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Rain. Snow. Slush. Mud. Wind. Extreme cold. Extreme heat. You name it. We’ve marched in it.

Dealing with crazy weather is just one of the many challenges that we face as marching members. In this issue of Halftime Magazine, several band members recall their “Best and Worst Experiences.” Their worst all have one thing in common—staring down Mother Nature. I bet you can relate to their stories—as can I.

I remember the Northwestern University Marching Band’s away trip to the University of Michigan in 1995. A high school band in Ann Arbor hosted us, so we performed an exhibition of our halftime show—in full uniform— the evening before the game. It must have rained hard that day as deep mud puddles covered the grassy field. Since we normally performed on artificial turf at our home stadium, none of us really knew what we were in for.

In the middle of our run-through, I witnessed a very tall tenor saxophone player slip in the mud. Then, one by one in a chain reaction, all the tenors started tripping over him and each other. Luckily, no one was injured.

That night definitely ranks as one of the band’s worst performance experiences. But we went on the next day as if nothing bad had happened, marched a great pregame and halftime show and cheered on our team toward an amazing win at “The Big House.”

As for my best experience, Mother Nature was on my side. It was a beautiful New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., later that same season, and our football team had just been declared the Big Ten champions. There we were, marching down Colorado Boulevard with the sun on our faces for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. With an amazing view of the San Gabriel Mountains, a soundtrack of thousands of enthusiastic fans singing our fight song and the knowledge that I might be on television, my heart filled with tremendous pride. We were told to “Expect Victory,” but no one expected this moment.

Being able to represent our school, being able to support our team and being able to do it with more than 100 of our closest friends, that’s what marching band is all about, no matter what the weather. I’m sure you feel the same way too.

Keep on Marching,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief