The Day Life Changed

Imagine if you weren’t in marching band. You’d probably have a lot more free time. Maybe you would take up a different sport. Or maybe you would sleep more.

In actuality, it’s easy for me to imagine because I remember life before marching band, and I remember the day that life changed. I can pinpoint the exact timeframe and the exact reason why I joined.

About two weeks before New Student Week as an incoming freshman at Northwestern University, I received a phone call. That call came from Chris Hurst, one of the band’s drum majors.

I guess I had filled out an information card. I didn’t remember. At any rate, Chris welcomed me to the band, introduced himself as one of the three drum majors and said that he looked forward to meeting me at band camp.

“Oh, I don’t think I’m planning to attend band camp,” I told him. “My dad already booked the flights to arrive later.” (As I’ve mentioned in prior letters, I didn’t know anything about band camp since I didn’t have a high school marching band.)

Maybe Chris was disappointed by that comment; I couldn’t tell. Throughout the whole conversation, he kept upbeat and ensured me that marching band would be fun and that I should give it a try.

I hung up the phone thinking, “Why not?” And the rest is history.

Do you remember the day your life changed? Maybe your parents made you join. Maybe you filled out an information card. Maybe you heard the band play at orientation. Maybe someone made a personal connection. Or maybe all of the above.

Whatever the reason, a good mix of recruitment tools is a powerful way to attract band leaders of tomorrow.

Among the articles in this issue, you can find out all the creative ways that high school and college bands recruit for members (“Wanted: Band Students,” page 18) and about scholarships, stipends and other perks offered by various college bands (“Get Paid to March,” page 32).

If I never joined the marching band, life would definitely be different. I would certainly have a different job. I would probably have a very different set of friends, perhaps a few different bridesmaids and maybe even a different husband (although we didn’t meet in band, we sure bonded over the activity since he served as his high school drum major). And none of us would have Halftime Magazine.

So Chris Hurst, if you’re out there somewhere reading this letter, thank you for your support and for your call.

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

Mary Karen Clardy

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