The Marching Virginians Are For You!

The Marching Virginians are a family with a multitude of diverse backgrounds and collected experiences that share special moments and relationships on and off the field. But what might that experience look like for you? What if you’re not majoring or minoring in music? What if you feel like your schedule might be a bit too much?

These are the harder questions that all prospective and returning members of the MVs face. Let’s take it question by question and address some techniques that can work for you!

Does not majoring in music put me behind?

Sara Elwood and the Addams family, a group of  TBS and KKY  sisters and brothers; Source: Rett Hill

Sara Elwood and the Addams family, a group of TBS and KKY sisters and brothers; Source: Rett Hill

Absolutely not! If you’re keeping up with the blog, Julia did an amazing piece on the many different backgrounds and majors within the band. The largest percentage of the band is in the College of Engineering, which makes sense considering many students come far and wide for engineering at Tech.

As someone who came in undecided, I felt that keeping one thing consistent from high school was a good place to start in keeping me grounded so far from home. I met so many great people that wanted to share their experiences and wisdom with me, and I’m so happy I made the decision to tryout.

“Going into college you’re thrown into a new world that can be overwhelming, but by joining the band you can gain one of the biggest communities that will give you friends, support, amazing experiences and memories that last forever!”

-Sara Elwood, Junior Trumpet

What if I didn’t march all throughout high school, if at all?

Esther Thorne and Dougen Lee at the Tech v. Marshall game, December 1st, 2018; Source: Brendan Little

Esther Thorne and Dougen Lee at the Tech v. Marshall game, December 1st, 2018; Source: Brendan Little

Every year we have students at different levels of marching experience, so no matter where you fall within that bubble we never turn away from a fellow Hokie. Even those with experience can admit that days we spend on fundamentals are days well spent.

Take it from someone who didn’t have a high school marching band:

“It’s best to know your strengths and weaknesses and build on both whenever you can. Don’t compare yourself to others and if you know music is on your side, show it!”

-Esther Thorne, Sophomore Clarinet

I’m already taking a lot of credits, but I don’t want to leave band behind.

Jada Braxton with her boot at the Tech v. Notre Dame game, October 6th, 2018; Source: Brendan Little

Jada Braxton with her boot at the Tech v. Notre Dame game, October 6th, 2018; Source: Brendan Little

If you feel that the workload you have is much more than you’re used to, no matter the amount of credits, it’s understandable to have doubts. But there are also ways to manage your time from creating a giant wall calendar to having a digital agenda, such as Google Calendar. 

Something I learned my first year was to write down my band schedule with my class schedule, so I could see what days I needed to plan around. In many ways, band came first that way, but when it came to tests and lab days I definitely made sure I was prepared, even if it meant running to the library before and after rehearsals.

I also knew that sleep wouldn’t find me so easily in the first week of testing and experimenting with my new schedule, so I set up restrictions for myself. For every hour I stayed up past 12 a.m. I spent an hour on learning testing material or practicing my instrument the next day.

For some, this sounds extremely unrealistic in an already busy schedule, but there are always ways to find time for yourself, even if it means putting your phone aside for a few minutes.

“Marching band is worth joining because you get to make lots of great friends right off the bat, unforgettable memories, and you get to take your mind off of school work for an hour and a half during the week! Marching band is one of the best ways to end your evenings!”

-Jada Braxton, Sophomore Piccalo

Will I have time for activities outside of band?

Meredith Smith on the day she became a sister of TBS; Source: Lexie Hackman

Meredith Smith on the day she became a sister of TBS; Source: Lexie Hackman

Yes! Don’t let other people tell you how to value your time. I almost made the mistake of taking too few credits because one of the administrators at orientation told me I wouldn’t have time for anything outside of band. 

This, of course, was false. I found ways to organize my schedule around band, working for the school newspaper and joining a sorority. If you truly want to do something, to be a part of something, you’ll do what you can within reason to succeed.

“You miss out on opportunities you don’t take. You don’t know if you’ll like something or how it will work out until you dive into it head first. You can always stop doing something you don’t enjoy, but you can’t get back the time you wasted missing out!”

-Meredith Smith, Sophomore Twirler

Two last pieces of advice from some amazing people when making the decision to tryout:

1. “You should never let apprehension or fear keep you from trying new things, because in the end you’ll just be wondering “what if”. Although our band prides itself on performing well and putting in effort, I think a lot of people are there to have a good time, and everyone, from the directors to drum majors and section leaders recognize that.”

-Colleen Peters, Junior Trumpet and President of Tau Beta Sigma, National Honorary Band Service Sorority

2. “Take the risk and just go for it- I didn’t think band at Tech would be something I enjoyed as much as I did, but it has become my everything. The Marching Virginians are my home and my identity, and I honestly can’t picture my life without it.”

-Ashlyn McDonald, Senior Marching Virginians Drum Major