The Beat of Your Own Drum: Marching band members, director deliberate over recognition of band compared to sports

Aniket Biswali and Karolena Zhou

Nick Beckman
The percussion players lead the procession of marching band performers at the halftime performance of a home football game. Jenna Kellermeyer, marching band performer and junior, said she wishes that marching band would get more recognition like sports such as football and basketball.

Jenna Kellermeyer, marching band member and junior, said she is aware how much physical and mental work is involved to put on a performance, like the one for the Regional Competition which is set to take place tomorrow. This is why she said she is frustrated that marching band is underrated by her peers and  not recognized enough compared to IHSAA-required sports.

Kellermeyer said, “Marching band puts in an enormous amount of work and hours. A key piece of band is being able to repeat your actions, so we work strenuously in order to perfect that. We often fall into a stereotype of ‘band nerds,’ but in the end, we are some of the hardest working kids at the school.”

Other marching band members said they agree with Kellermeyer. Rory Bowers, marching band member and sophomore, said he feels like the marching band should be held at the same degree of recognition with sports such as football.

“I believe marching band and sports should be held at the same level of respect as one another because the amount of work in both marching band and sports that is required to get to the high levels of excellence here at Carmel (is the same),” Bowers said.

Still, people like Kellermeyer acknowledge that even many of her marching band peers do not share her sentiment. Most performers speculate that this is due to the amount of practice hours exceeding the IHSAA maximum. Others say that it is due to the fact that athletic ability is second to the art of performance.

“While band follows the definition of a sport, many band kids struggle to call it one. We have longer hours and still have conditioning, but (marching band falls) under the category of a performing art,” Kellermeyer said.

While Kellermeyer and Bowers said they feel slighted, marching band director Michael Pote said he has never had the impression by the administration or student body that the importance of what marching band students do is considered any less than athletics.

“I don’t want (marching band) to be a sport. We are a different animal, a different experience than sports. We don’t talk about ‘winning’. We just want (marching band students) to do the best they can, and rewards are just something nice that comes along,” Pote said.

Still, in terms of the strenuousness and physicality of marching band, Pote said he acknowledges its demands compared to other sports.

“We make our kids go under extremely difficult physical demands as well as musical demands. We practice at a tempo of around 186 beats per minute, which is really fast. We need our kids to be able to play at that tempo but also move their feet and contort their body that fast as well.”

Even though marching band is not officially designated as a sport, Kellermeyer said she thinks it would be nice for marching band to be given a little more recognition.

“In a perfect world, it would be amazing to see other sports teams come to a performance of ours, especially given we attend every football game and support the football team. Perhaps even announcing our placements on the announcements like they do for basketball,” Kellermeyer said. “(However,) I adore (band). Band has made my high school experience exponentially better. It’s not for everybody, but ultimately, I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to be part of such an incredible program.”