Lanah Kopplin will be contributing columns to DCI.org each Tuesday. Here's her fifth installment.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Whitewater, Wis., to cheer on my brother at the WSMA State Marching Band Competition. That's right, the same Whitewater that hosted DCI's first World Championships in 1972. It was a bittersweet night for the entire family. After nine years, this would be the last time that a Kopplin would march with the ranks of the Oak Creek High School Marching Knights. But if there was ever a year to end it, this would be it. Congratulations to my alma mater for a tremendous third-place finish, as well as capturing the percussion caption award! I sat through all of the performances of the AAA and AAAA divisions. During this time, I was able to experience the best and worst of both fan and participant behavior. Seeing as the marching band season is not yet over, and one of these days summer will finally arrive, I have some advice for everyone involved, both on and off the field. To the fans: Please don't try to enter or exit the stands during a performance. We all want to see the show, and it's frustrating when our view is blocked. Please keep the stairways and walkways moving. I understand what it's like to want to stop and catch up with an old friend. If and when this situation arises, simply move into the bleacher section, and out of the way. This way, the flow of traffic is not impeded, and everyone can arrive at his or her destination in time for the next performance. Be supportive! Everyone is working extremely hard out there, and deserves our appreciation. Remember, the kids didn't pick their show. I sat through what I'll call "Fire of Eternal Glory, the remix," and cheered just as loudly for them as I did for everyone else. Are some music programs better than others? Of course! But most students go to school based upon where they live, not by the status of their marching bands. So go ahead, and cheer for them all! Please, keep the negatives to yourself. Yes, the lines are a little crooked, and all you can hear is a third trumpet playing for dear life, but remember, nobody's perfect. Save the critiques for the privacy of your car or home, when you don't risk the chance of being overheard by others. You never know who's sitting right behind you, proudly watching their child march his first show. Don't ruin that experience by casting a shadow of negativity on it. Most importantly, IT'S OK TO CHEER! Show your appreciation! Let these kids know that they're doing a great job! I actually saw someone try to "shush" another person when they started cheering during the first hit. Come on guys, these kids are here to entertain us, so when they do, let's let them know! If you hear a great solo, go ahead and applaud! If you see some great guard work, cheer for it! It's OK to cheer before and after performances, as well. That's the time to yell out "Go Steve!" or "Loud is good!" or anything else that might help pump up the performers. This is supposed to be an experience for everyone, so let's help make it happen! To the performers: Keep doing what you're doing. If you still have years left in high school, please continue to participate in your marching band program. If you're off to college next year, check out what their music program has to offer. And if you're not busy this summer, look around and see if there's a drum corps near you. We always love new faces! Remember to be respectful, both in and out of uniform. Any and all of your comments and actions will leave an impression on those around you. Remember that you represent your school and band, and should act accordingly. Keep it positive. Trust me, I understand rivalries, but don't use them as an excuse to badmouth other organizations. Underneath the uniform, we're all the same. We all love music, and want to show it to the world. Always maintain a competitive spirit, but never make it personal. Competition is what drives all of us to reach our greatest potential. However, regardless of how the scores play out, your experiences can never be taken away from you. Appreciate the joys of competition, but never let it define your season. Most importantly, BE PROUD! You have done what others can only dream of. Be proud of your accomplishments. Were you a soloist? Congratulations! Remember how that felt, and take it with you. Go ahead and sing along to recordings of your show, even if you played second baritone. Show your love and pride to others! Invite some friends over and play a video of your performance. It's OK to jump up and point yourself out on the screen. After all, YOU DID IT. You put in the time, the effort, the drive and desire, and this is your reward. This was your experience, and no one can ever take that away from you. This advice is valuable and valid to both the marching band and drum corps circuits. Actually, it's valid to pretty much any competitive activity. Win or lose, it is the experience that is important, for both the competitors and the spectators. Let's do what we can to make sure that this experience is the best that it can be for everyone involved. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah is a political science major at the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native), and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin