Discrimination and Our Musical Triumph of Equality 


Hate filled rhetoric and divisive statements scream across our nation's headlines each and every day. Just this week issues related to Affirmative Action, immigration, police brutality, and institutional sexism at Google have brought discrimination to the forefront of our national agenda.

Why can’t we see past color? What can’t we value each and every human for who they are? What can’t we all get along? 

Why can’t we all be just like marching band?

To be fair, this activity wasn’t always a beacon of virtue. Music educators, myself included, once led the way in segregation. Sure, we didn’t do it based on the color of your skin or your gender, but we discriminated none the less. Yep, depending on who you were and what you played, some people were relegated, not to the back of the bus, but to the back of the field. Different location, but same concept; some instruments and people have more value than others. BUT NO MORE! 

Recent advances in technology and understanding have created a newfound sense of equality in our activity. Yes, marching band is LEADING THE WAY in creating an environment of peace, harmony, and equality. 

Don’t believe me? Check it out!

  • Freshman are the new senior. Freshman typically represent about thirty-five percent of an organization. If the freshmen are successful, than the band is more likely to be successful.
  • Color Guard is the new drill. Half time shows have evolved into mini (or not) theatrical productions with the auxiliary units becoming the main characters and story tellers with the musicians being relegated to the roll of pit orchestra and human curtains.
  • Front ensemble is the new drum line. With the addition of sound systems, the front ensemble moved to the head of the musical class by being able to change the tambre, tone, and texture of an ensemble with the change of a mallet or the flick of a switch. No other section has that capability.
  • Woodwinds are the new brass. Wireless mics and domed stadiums have pushed aside the button pushers in favor of the reed-lickers. Their musical dexterity and technical skills are now what sets apart some of our nation’s top marching ensembles.

Gone are the days where we discriminated against someone because of her age or instrument. Gone are the days when the auxiliary was in back and the pit was called a pit for a reason. Today is a new day of enlightenment. Yes, advances in show design and amplification have moved our activity to a place where EVERY student, regardless of age or instrument, has an EQUITABLE opportunity to contribute and has EQUAL value to the ensemble.

Yes, instead of focusing on what’s wrong in the world, our nation’s news headlines should be shouting: Music Education Champions Equality!

But before the pendulum swings too far, let's remember, BRASS LIVES DO MATTER!

Have a great week everyone!