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Marching Bands Deserve More Recognition: Thoughts on East Kentwood Invitational

Olivet H.S. Matching Band
This past weekend on cool fall day I sat in the bleachers at the East Kentwood High School Football Stadium to watch twenty four High School Marching Bands take the field. The East Kentwood Marching Band Invitational has always been near and dear to my heart because it was the last time I played in a Marching Band setting during my time in high school. Growing up I couldn’t play sports so when I go to 6th music really came into my life and I joined the band in the percussion section. I had an awesome band instructor at Wayland. She made me feel part of a family, made me realize I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve and gave me realization that if I put my heart and mind to it I could be a leader. Mrs. Stephenson was one of three teachers I had that really had an impact on me during my school years. Even though I left band my junior year my love for music never died. It’s ironic that I left band to take on more responsibilities in journalism and here I am fourteen years later writing about an band invitational that took place this past weekend. 
As I sat and watched each of the twenty four bands play and perform I kept thinking to myself what a lot of hard work and effort by each band. Each band had it’s own unique look, sound, color and theme. There were some bands that even brought some crazy pops that you would have never seen fifteen years ago. When I was in high school the halftime show was just a time where people went concessions and didn’t pay much attention unless you had a kid in the band. It was so great to see the stands packed at East Kentwood. I think it was great to see that there was so much respect and admiration for each band that performed. These kids pour their heart out when it comes to the hard work and many hours preparing for performances like these.
Even though I played on the sidelines in the three years I was in Marching Band I remember how hard we all had to work to put on a great performance. A lot goes into the movements, the music and making sure the theme that the bands are performing are well represented. It takes a lot of skill and coordination to do what these kids do. It’s these very reasons why I don’t think Marching Bands don’t get the credit they deserve. While most high schools focus on their athletic programs they should focus on their marching band programs and give it equal treatment. It takes a special group of people to be able move on a field the way they do and play an instrument the way they do. I think more attention and more focus should be given to marching bands and I am not talking just about the high school level either.
I think Universities should give out equal scholarships with equal value that they would to an athlete. Based on what I saw at East Kentwood there quite a few kids that deserve a scholarship to a university to have a great education in music or what ever career path they decide on. I also think more professional sports teams should use local and state high school bands for their halftime shows. Marching Bands, fine, arts, performing arts or what ever you consider deserve more promotion and awareness. I think playing an instrument is a beautiful thing. East Kentwood was just one invitational with twenty four bands. Can you just imagine how many great musicians there are in Michigan, in the United States and around the world? I am so grateful I got to experience twenty four unique colors, unique sounds and unique presentations. I would like to recognize all the schools the participated in the East Kentwood Marching Band Invitational. Those schools are:
Wayland Union
Gull Lake
Spring Lake
Berrien Spring
Kenowa Hills
Kalamazoo Central 
Portage Central 
Grand Haven 
East Kentwood
If you are in the West Michigan Area I encourage to pay attention at the football and I recommend going to an invitational even if you don’t have a student in the band. They are so much fun to watch and be apart of it. If you have a child and you find that they love music get them into band and encourage to get into marching band once they get into high school. It is a lot of hard work but it was also very rewarding and tons of fun. Long live music and long live Marching Bands. 
For more info on Michigan Marching Bands and where you can check out invitationals go to Michigan Marching-
Portage Central H.S. Marching Band
East Kentwood H.S. Marching Band
Wayland Union H.S. Marching Band

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