• Home games this week: Tues., 4/16: Tennis v. Rio Grande @ 3:30 p.m. / Tues., 4/16: Softball v. SF Indian School @ 3 & 5 p.m. / Thurs., 4/18: Baseball v. Robertson @ 3 & 5 p.m. / Sat., 4/20: Softball v. Manzano @10 a.m. & noon.
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1000 Hrs. of Practice = 10 Min. of Performing: Life in Marching Band

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The lead-up to a band competition is a very long one. After months and hundreds of hours of after school practice, there we are – the morning of.

We have to wake up early. I arrive at school before the sun rises and get into uniform. We get onto the field and start practicing the show we have been learning for months, making sure that our music is perfect and our marching is up to par. After that we start to pack the buses to go.

The band parents give us breakfast, and then we head off. We arrive 20 minutes late to the Rio Rancho High School and barely have time to get ready. We get to the lot where the trailers are kept that have our equipment. We start to put on our uniforms and assemble our instruments. Inside we are all a little nervous (we are scrambling to get ready) but on the outside we look fine. It’s chaos, controlled chaos. We are finally ready. From this point on we have to look like one unit. We must move together, march together, and think together.

We get to our lot where, for the last time, we practice. We warm up and then play our show to our band directors. After 10 minutes we make our way to the field. Nerves are for sure following – the subtle huffing and puffing of people hypeing themselves up is audible. We line up in the end zone and then they call our name. We go onto the field and prepare.

There is a lot of build-up to a moment like this. It starts even before the school year starts. There are two weeks at the end of the summer when we spend 12 hours a day marching, learning and relearning the basics. We learn how to march in one cohesive unit, how to play the show music, and how to discipline our minds into the mental fort that we need to get through it all.

Then from the very first day of school we practice from 5 to 9 p.m. During that time we learn how to play the music that we will eventually perform. We spend hours just on the music. But that’s only half of it. Then we spend hours learning how to march the show. We spend months doing this, making sure that it is beyond perfect.

There we are on the field. The announcer calls, “Santa Fe High, you may take the field for competition.” We watch the drum majors and quietly start to count, making sure to keep in time. We start to play. I can only make sure to hit my notes and keep in time. We come to the end – the epic, finally. We make sure it’s the best.

After we’re done we march off the field to the trailers. We eat lunch and then watch the other bands perform. Many other bands have amazing performances.

It’s a mixed bag of emotions watching the other bands. On one hand you see all of the other bands’ hours of effort on that field. It validates your own efforts seeing them there, knowing that other people went through a similar experience. But it’s also disheartening seeing a band with similar numbers as yours do better than you. Because when it comes to this stuff, you can’t blame anyone but yourself, for not putting in enough effort, or missing days, because you are not a single member of the band. You are a part of the band, just as the heart is a part of the body. It might be referred to as some isolated thing, but it’s still a very important cog in a big machine.

It comes time for the awards. We hear our name: We’ve placed third out of six bands in our division. Our drum majors walk up and accept the award. We’ve done it. We’re done.

Until next weekend.

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