Last spring, like most other high school seniors, I had a huge decision to make: what college would I attend next year? After a lot of research and endless college visits, I finally made my decision. I decided to attend Clemson University in South Carolina. Choosing Clemson was the best choice I’ve made in my life thus far. I love it here. My second-best decision was joining Clemson’s marching band, aka Tiger Band. When most people hear the words “marching band” they automatically assume it’s “lame” or “nerdy.” Those people could not be more wrong. Tiger Band is quite the opposite—it’s full of amazing football, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and great friends. Here are just a few highlights of my experience so far and reasons why you might consider joining your own school’s marching band!
1. Supporting the team
When I joined Tiger Band, I knew a lot of my free time would be spent at college football games. I’ve heard a lot of good things about college football, but nothing prepared me for this experience. There’s nothing quite like a game in Clemson’s Death Valley; the team’s entrance isn’t called “the most exciting 25 seconds of college football” for no reason! Tiger Band allowed me to go to all the home games hassle-free: no waiting to get tickets and no waiting to go into the stadium. Not only was I able to go to all the home games, I was also able to go to all of the away games. What’s better than cheering on your favorite team all over the country with 365 of your best friends? The marching band in some ways an extension of the football team because it brings the hype and energy athletes often need to stay in their competitive mindset. You’d really be a part of something bigger!
2. Making new friends
What college freshman isn't worried about making new friends at school? Tiger Band allowed me to make friends even before classes started. Throughout band camp, I built relationships with all different kinds of people. And you don’t need to be a Music major to be in band. Most of my fellow band members are studying Engineering or Biology or English. Within a week I had already made more friends than I thought possible in such a short amount of time. I have met some of my best friends because of marching band, and I honestly think that I will be friends with them for the rest of my life. Music is such a great way to connect with other people, and what better way to make new friends in a new place than by a shared passion in music and a common goal.
3. Traveling to new places
I traveled to Florida three times strictly because of Tiger Band. I went to Arizona for the semifinal playoffs. Tiger Band allowed me to travel to five states in one season (Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina in addition to the previously mentioned two). Some members even got to fly to Boston for a game. My band did a lot more traveling this year than other bands may have, because our football team has gone “all the way.” So while not all bands with travel as much if their team doesn’t make it to the finals, you’ll definitely get to go a few places you wouldn’t have otherwise. Now you may think that these trips are all work and no play; however, there’s more to it. Yes, the main reason for going on these trips is to bring spirit to the football games and support the team, but there’s also a fair amount of free time built in. Usually we have time to go to dinner with friends, hang out, or just explore the town.
4. Game-day atmosphere
There is nothing on Earth like game day in Clemson, South Carolina. Games in Death Valley are second to none. I can’t advocate for other college bands, but Tiger Band starts off every home game day the same—with rehearsal. Then it’s time for the real fun to begin. We gear up in our uniforms and head out to the amphitheater for our pre-game concert, where we play some music for Tiger fans. After this comes my favorite part about game day—the parade down the hill to the stadium. We line up and begin the parade, and there are screaming fans wherever you turn. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing little kids in Clemson gear reaching out their hands for a high-five. Once the parade is over, we go into the tunnels and hang around for a bit before running onto the field to perform our pre-game show (and then later at halftime). But that feeling you get running out of the tunnels and onto the field in the beginning of pre-game is like no other. Playing Tiger Rag in front of 80,000 people as the football team runs down the hill is truly an indescribable experience. And while not every colleges traditions will be the same, every college certainly has them, and any game-day atmosphere you get to be a part of will sure to be electrifying.
The experience you get from joining a school marching band is second to none. You get to support your college, make friends, travel, and perform in front of thousands of fans. You get to combine a passion for music with a spirited energy to be a part of something truly special.
For more fun blogs like this about sports, check out our College Athletics section.