I came from a lower-level colorguard (SRA1, for those that know winterguard) and I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into a college marching band.  I had never seen the Marching Royal Dukes (James Madison University) before and I didn’t know what to expect.  Every part of the season was a new surprise!


1)      Keep an open mind.  They might have a different technique than your high school.  And different terms!  What you may call a “stir” may be referred to as a “crazy eight”, or my “wooshy-wooshy” is more popularly called a “backscratcher”.  It’s important to be receptive and adaptive to the new terms and technique you learn.  It will be different, but it may make you a better spinner!


2)      It will be hard.  Now this may not be applicable everywhere, I have a friend at a university in Florida with a very small band and the guard program isn’t very large.  But at a school like JMU, we take a lot of pride in challenging not only the band members but the colorguard as well!  Every rehearsal has something new for me to improve on or a new toss for me to practice.  My repertoire of tosses and tricks has vastly increased since my time here!  And rifle?  Try telling high-school-me (who never touched one) that I’d be able to toss a five!  With a lot of practice (and a little bit of pain) you’ll be surprised at what you can do once you accept the challenges around you!


3)      Don’t give up.  And don’t be afraid to try.  The biggest mistake people will make going into college is not trying out because they’re afraid of the time commitment, because they’re afraid they won’t make the team, because they want to have the “true” freshman experience.  So many people try-out as a sophomore saying how much they regret not auditioning as a freshmen.  You will make 10x more friends during band camp than you would at freshmen orientation.  You will learn all the secrets about campus and all the things about your meal plan from all your older teammates.  You’ll return to your freshman dorm knowing so much more about campus, about your major, about how to transition into college from the people you’ll spend 16 hours a day, sweating in the sun, crying through the choreography, pushing through the pain, with.  Don’t give up.  Band camp will be hard.  The season can get long.  The weather can change from sweltering heat to freezing cold and you won’t even be able to grip the flag anymore.  But you will meet some of the closest friends you will ever have in college and make some of the most incredible memories.  Don’t be afraid to try, and don’t give up.

Written By Katherine Brochu