Although there are pros and cons to competing, we feel the positive values far outweigh the negatives. We choose to compete in marching band because we feel it is the best motivator for you to excel as individuals and as a group. Our band's motto is "Be Your Best." We strive to achieve this every day and not just in show performances. However, we all tend to prepare better when we know there is a performance approaching, and a competition focuses this even more than a football halftime show or other performance. It is the same with academics—we all tend to study and learn more if there is a test than no test.
I think there is competitiveness in human nature that can be either good or bad. When friends get together and shoot baskets, it is not long before they are playing a game. When people go bowling or play a card game, they soon start keeping score because that is part of “playing the game.” Band competitions should be treated as a game with no more or less emphasis put on it. When used as an enjoyable activity and means to achieving other goals, it can be very rewarding.
We treat competitions as a test or exam and use the score as a measurement of our success and improvement from show to show. Of course, there are always variations in scoring since it is a human activity. We will tell you if we think the score was accurate or perhaps too high or low for the particular point in the season. Just like in school, our goal is to achieve 100 points. In band there is no perfect score, but our approach is to strive for excellence and perfection. If your goals are to be just pretty good, it is too easily achieved. Since scores start low and improve as the season progresses, we use the score as a benchmark compared to previous contests or seasons. We set goals such as “we hope to break a score of 80” by a certain time in the season. If we reach that score, and we think it is accurate, we have achieved a goal or plateau for the week.
When we rehearse, perform and compete, we only have control of ourselves—how well we practice, how well the show works and is written and how close we come to achieving our potential. We do not have any control over what other bands show up at the contest and how well they are achieving their goals. Other than doing our best, we have no control over how the judges evaluate us. Our desire is to compete in great stadiums and where great bands are competing whenever possible. We want you to be challenged in rehearsing and want you to see the great bands of our activity.
We try to define the terms winning and losing in other than placement terms but in life skills terms. We have all seen first place groups that acted like losers and last place groups that were really winners in their behavior and attitude. We expect you to react the same regardless of what place the band receives—congratulate others and be humble if complimented. Human nature being what it is, we all prefer to place higher rather than lower and that is okay. The marching band competition scene should be viewed as part of the educational process of our band program. It opens up many opportunities for learning that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.