Marching Band Ethnography

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With every school you are bound to have divides between students as they self-identify or join organizations that group the student into several different communities. These communities are often interwoven and are mixed and matched by the students based on their interests. All of these different communities have different interests, ideals, and socially constructed rules. But with a community it also generates stereotypes, misconceptions, and associations, sometimes false sometimes true. One community in almost every campus around the nation is the marching band. The marching band community comes with its fair share of the good and the bad. Many people who have been in a marching band program, whether in high school or in college, have had…show more content…
This bonding is obvious, yet at the same time odd due to their unique nature. As stated by Philip A. Cusick, “school ensembles are not just classes or performance groups, but guardians of their own specific culture, a culture that informs and enriches the lives of their own members”(1973: 24). The marching band group involves more than just having kids associate with that group. The way they bond and how tightly is different in most cases from other groups. However these bonds don’t form overnight and this is what I am interested in, how they come about. So, for this ethnography I focused on why and how the marching band community forms these strong bonds. So without further ado, I will move into my study. For the entirety of this ethnography I have received most of my information from interviewing marching band members, who will remain unnamed for privacy, and I interviewed 8 in total. The rest of my information I gathered from academic journals on the subject of either college or…show more content…
This is due to them all being very similar but for some of the striking answers I will generally quote it. So, why does the band seem to quickly accept and bond with new members? The question had an interesting effect, especially on those who I interviewed that really considered the band “home”. Now the following are paraphrased answers from my interviews, not exact quotes. The first one was very common, almost all of my interviews said some form of, “when you get into marching band you find people that are just as passionate about music as you are and through this shared passion these people bond”. I found this similar to an academic journal in which students were asked to answer a survey on why they joined the band, “First was an acknowledgment of students’ liking for the subject. Simple statements such as ‘I like music’ appeared frequently in the transcripts, along with more focused comments like ‘kind of influenced me to the classical part of music’.”(Adderley et al. 2003: 195). So this general like or even love for music is something they share at the very beginning. One other answer I received from two freshman men and one freshman female is “At the beginning of the year, you’re just coming to a new school, you left all your friends behind and now there’s this new group of people who are kind of like you and you’re all going through the same things”.

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