Freshmen Year: Carmen – High School Marching Band

marching band finals

High school was some of the worst and best years of my life. From friendship drama to boyfriend breakups, I experienced plenty of teenage heartache. I also was not the most athletic or outgoing person in my class, often feeling too awkward, too shy, and too inadequate to hang out with “the cool kids”. Thankfully in the spring of my freshman year a friend encouraged me to come with her to marching band practice. She was in the colorguard and loved it. Since it was the middle of the parade band season, it was too late to  learn all the fundamental flag techniques and the parade routine. Instead, I volunteered to march in front of the color guard, holding one side of the gigantic school banner at the beginning of the band.

Holding the banner was not a glamorous or fun job by any means. My petite 5 foot frame had a difficult time holding the big, bulky banner. At the end of each and every two hour practice marching around and around the track, my shoulder and arm would ache. Sometimes it felt as if someone was stabbing my shoulder blade with a dull knife. Yet I pushed through without complaining, because for once I actually felt part of something and pride for my school. My high school marching band has a long history of being Maine State Champions in fall competition band. Unlike most school bands, the majority of the fall marching band season consists of competition shows, not football game halftime shows. It was a big deal to be in the marching band.

Four parades later, spring marching band ended and I patiently waited for band camp to begin at the end of summer. On the very first day of band camp in August, I was over the moon excited to begin to learn flag techniques, routines, and drill work. I vividly remember sitting anxiously in the band room next to one of my friends at the morning meeting. We soon learned we would be performing music from the show Carmen, which I had never heard of. Little did I know, by the end of the season I would live, breath, and dream about the music, flagwork, and dance steps to the 12 minute show.

During the long grueling 8-9 hour days in the hot sun at band camp, I learned all the basic flag techniques. The entire colorguard learned the flagwork to the big opening “block formation” of our show. Out of all the routines I performed in the 7 years I was in colorguard, this is the only flagwork I remember and could probably still do. When I opened my videos from YesVideo and watched our Carmen show, I got chills down my spine when I heard the music and watched the flagwork. I love how at the end of the song you can hear our assistant band director scream for joy, because we nailed it. I love how the sound of the percussion beat takes me back to that cold night, shivering on the field, head held high, heart soaring with excitement and nerves. I love that I am able to relieve all these memories and more thanks to a short video clip.

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child’s speech, language and feeding development through everyday moments. Mindi also enjoys knitting and photography.


  1. Isn’t that the truth about high school?! I wouldn’t change one bit of it, though as it shaped me to who I am today. How cool that your HS band did so well too. :)
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  1. […] turning your old home movies into digital media and DVDs. Just last month, I transferred all four years of my marching band videos into digital media and was so excited to relieve my band […]