Two Perspectives on Competition

I’ll always remember my first marching band performance. We played “Jurassic Park” and ended the show with a company-front formation, high-stepping in cut time. We ended on the sidelines, playing with horns up to our home fans.

As a college band, our primary goal involved support of the football team (see “Smells Like Team Spirit”). Yet with every show, we grew as musicians and as people. So I truly can attest to the value and fun of marching in a noncompetitive setting.

On the other hand, this issue of Halftime Magazine focuses on competition. Our cover story, “Battle of the Bands,” highlights the show-style bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, where halftime is like going to war. “To Compete or Not to Compete,” poses the important question: Does competing help or hurt students and the school’s overall band program? And “Demystifying the Judging Process,” gives valuable advice to those who do choose to compete. We also profile and congratulate the 2007 Drum Corps International World Champions.

So since I never marched competitively, I felt I should share this letter with my husband, Josh. He served as drum major of the Ferndale (Mich.) High School Golden Eagle Marching Band in 1993. (Incidentally, Ferndale is now a three-peat state champion) Here, Josh provides a few thoughts about competition:

I marched competitively in high school and had a blast. It was more like a sport, which is great because it forces you to practice and work hard to get rewarded. It certainly teaches good skills that you can use later in life.

I do agree that a marching program can hurt the music program from a purely musical perspective. However, one upside for us was that it allowed a lot of our most talented orchestral and vocal musicians to participate by playing in the pit percussion. They looked at it as a chance to be a part of a winning sports team, which we were.

The best feeling I ever had in band was conducting on the field at state championships and accepting the “best percussion” trophy at finals. We were in the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Detroit Lions used to play, and there were 5,000 fans cheering for us. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

As you can tell from our divergent experiences, whether bands choose to compete or not to compete, the experience is unforgettable.

Musically Yours,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

About the author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman is founder and chief executive officer of Muse Media, LLC, creator of books, magazines, and additional content highlighting performing arts and youth activities. Magazine assets include Halftime Magazine for marching arts participants and fans as well as Yamaha SupportED Magazine for K through 12 music educators. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Crain Communications and Imagination Publishing and a marketing manager at Chatsworth Products, Inc. Christine also worked for Yamaha Band and Orchestral Division. As a child, Christine learned five instruments, with flute being primary. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. Christine graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997 and earned an MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in 2007.