The Day Life Changed

Imagine if you weren’t in marching band. You’d probably have a lot more free time. Maybe you would take up a different sport. Or maybe you would sleep more.

In actuality, it’s easy for me to imagine because I remember life before marching band, and I remember the day that life changed. I can pinpoint the exact timeframe and the exact reason why I joined.

About two weeks before New Student Week as an incoming freshman at Northwestern University, I received a phone call. That call came from Chris Hurst, one of the band’s drum majors.

I guess I had filled out an information card. I didn’t remember. At any rate, Chris welcomed me to the band, introduced himself as one of the three drum majors and said that he looked forward to meeting me at band camp.

“Oh, I don’t think I’m planning to attend band camp,” I told him. “My dad already booked the flights to arrive later.” (As I’ve mentioned in prior letters, I didn’t know anything about band camp since I didn’t have a high school marching band.)

Maybe Chris was disappointed by that comment; I couldn’t tell. Throughout the whole conversation, he kept upbeat and ensured me that marching band would be fun and that I should give it a try.

I hung up the phone thinking, “Why not?” And the rest is history.

Do you remember the day your life changed? Maybe your parents made you join. Maybe you filled out an information card. Maybe you heard the band play at orientation. Maybe someone made a personal connection. Or maybe all of the above.

Whatever the reason, a good mix of recruitment tools is a powerful way to attract band leaders of tomorrow.

Among the articles in this issue, you can find out all the creative ways that high school and college bands recruit for members (“Wanted: Band Students,” page 18) and about scholarships, stipends and other perks offered by various college bands (“Get Paid to March,” page 32).

If I never joined the marching band, life would definitely be different. I would certainly have a different job. I would probably have a very different set of friends, perhaps a few different bridesmaids and maybe even a different husband (although we didn’t meet in band, we sure bonded over the activity since he served as his high school drum major). And none of us would have Halftime Magazine.

So Chris Hurst, if you’re out there somewhere reading this letter, thank you for your support and for your call.

Keep on Marching,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

About the author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman has played the flute since the age of 8. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997. Since then, she has worked in the publishing industry as a writer and editor and helped launch Play Music, a magazine for recreational musicians, sponsored by American Music Group (now Music and Arts Center). In the summer of 2006, Christine worked at Yamaha where she interacted with staff and students in various marching bands and drum corps. Christine earned her MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in May 2007.