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The History of Marching

            Music marching bands are rooted in thousands of years in
many different cultures worldwide, while the history of band in America is
quite younger due to the age of our nation. 
The history of band at Clovis West is even younger than that, since the
high school opened in 1976.  Bands have
been used throughout time for military, ceremonial, competitive and for entertainment

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early days came from military bands that were important directing the troops
from place to place (Marching Band, 1). 
Most articles gave a similar history of band coming from war time events,
but then those bands became ceremonial when troops didn’t need them
anymore.  Today, military bands are not
used to march troops into war but play only ceremonies or before sporting
events, like the recent Army-Navy annual football game.  Care’s explains, “From regimental bands
parading with and accompanying soldiers into battle during the Revolutionary
and Civil Wars, to the half-time spectacles of today’s televised football games
seen by millions, pulse-pounding march music rendered by colorful marching
bands has been a part of America’s heritage since the country’s earliest days.  Indeed, bands, parades, and Sousa’s famous
march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” have come to symbolize
freedom, democracy, and the good old United States of America itself.  The word “band” derives from the
Latin bandum meaning “banner,” and also “company” and
“crowd.”  In popular usage
“band” has come to mean any group of instruments, from jug to rock,
but its specific meaning derives from the medieval musical ensemble of louder
instruments, primarily brass, reeds, and percussion, geared for performance
out-of-doors; this is in contrast to the “orchestra” of softer
instruments, strings and woodwinds, performing in interior settings.” (Care,
1).  John Phillip Sousa led the U.S. Marine
Band from 1880 through 1892 and is known for writing many of the well-known
marching tunes and began the tradition of touring throughout the country.

earlier days of bands included instruments that vary a lot from today’s
bands.  Drums similar to snare drums were
most often used in early days, but reed instruments were introduced as time
went on.  The bugle was added to the
American marching bands during the War of 1812 (History of Bands, 1).  During the Civil War, over-the-shoulder horn
instruments were used as wells as tubas and cornets (History of Bands, 2).  One memorable modern day example of the
marching band progression from early days of drums-only, cited was the 1972
Rose Bowl which included new instruments “sousaphones” and assured the marching
band had a place in schools all over America (Care, 2).  Today’s bands have incorporated all types of
instruments: several different types of drum or percussion instruments,
clarinets, trumpets, mellophones, flutes, xylophones, and even electronic
synthesizers.   During the last 12
months, Clovis West High School Marching Band has even added a grand piano last
season, and this past season has found a way to use a Theremin in its show. 

were used not only for guiding troops in battle situations, but for morale of
the soldiers.  Civils War regiments and their
musicians were regarded as important for keeping morale up during tough times.  Marching bands have transformed from military
background to the academic world.  Most
marching bands today at high school level and above have several duties–
ranging from playing at ceremonies, football or other sporting events, marching
band competitions, and festivals.  Marching
band can be a great place to build discipline, learn commitment, gain new friendships,
and increase self-confidence (Dagaz 432; Elmore 1).  While the band can serve as a great place to
meet other kids with similar interests, it also has the potential to
over-stress teenagers and increase their natural anxiety.  Ladysankofa (1-2) is a teacher and mom of a
high school band member and writes a funny blog about marching band.  She writes about the life of a high school
band student participating in marching band season points out the countless
hours working with other band geeks to perfect the show.  Things that today’s band does is memorize music,
marching moves, maybe playing a new instrument, and in horrible weather for
hours.  She indicates that the hours of
practice can decrease time for other activities.   Struggling to manage classwork and
extracurricular activities can be grueling, and teenagers may have more activities
to juggle than even adults (Shellenbarger 1). 
Shellenbarger recommended that there were red flags to watch out for: teens
not being able to get homework done, spending too little time with their
families, eating habit or sleeping changes.

Bands have been in existence longer than America has been a nation.  Marching bands have progressed from military
use to ceremonial or competitive purposes. 
Bands started with a few simple instruments and have progressed to hundreds
of people playing complex instruments. Band shows include music and visual
effects that were not part of the original marching bands.  Marching bands today are offered at some
middle schools and many high schools throughout American.  High School marching bands support their
schools, compete in competitions, and are a great place to make new friends.

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