Life Is a Lot like Being in a Marching Band

by Melannie Svoboda SND on September 17, 2012

I live across the street from Chardon High School. During football season, Friday nights around here are pretty exciting—and pretty loud. When Chardon has a home game, hundreds of cars pack into our church parking lot. Hordes of people stream toward the brightly lit stadium. And before, during, and after the game, the marching bands play with precision and gusto. These bands got me to thinking: life is a lot like being in a marching band.

For example, as long as you are in the marching band, you will never see the overall pattern of your movements.  From your perspective, things can look confused or even chaotic. But that’s okay. Take your eight steps this way, your twelve steps that way, and mark time if you are asked to do so. Trust the band director who sees the overall beautiful designs your movements are making.

While in the band, you will never hear the overall sound of the band either. If you play the trumpet, you will hear mostly trumpet. If you’re marching near the drums, you will hear mostly drum. But trust the director who hears the full sound of the band. Just follow the director’s instructions and tempo.

Be content to play your part and play it well, even when you don’t carry the melody. Cherish your instrument. If it’s a clarinet, fine; a flute, great; a horn, wonderful. Remember each instrument has a unique contribution to make to the music—even the lowly piccolo. If you find yourself envying another’s instrument, just ask yourself, “Who wants a band of all flutes, all clarinets, or all tubas? If you are tempted to become too proud of the part you play, remind yourself that it is the harmony of the other instruments that makes you sound so good.

And finally, dare to play all kinds of music suggested by the band director. Say not, “I play only Sousa.” Rather dare to try Gershwin, Hammerstein, Copeland, and Mozart even! Often the band director’s selection of music will elicit from you talents and strengths you never knew you had.

Are there other ways life is like being in a marching band?

What instrument and/or what kind of music are you playing right now with your life?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Evelyn B. Allen September 17, 2012 at 10:13 am

At this time I am happily involved with a band of women who are working and marching together to prepare for your presentation at St. Peter’s on Nov. 9th. Liz Mcguire is our most capable band director and we are in beautiful harmony. Go Team !

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Melannie Svoboda SND September 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

Dear Evelyn, I’m looking forward to coming to Naples, FL on November 9. Thank you for all your “band” is doing to make the retreat run so smoothly! Sr. Melannie

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mary james September 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

You have to be in tune with yourself and in harmony with the other members. You must practice your part ALOT. Don’t rely on others to “cover for you.” Put in the time and be patient with self. Be a part of the whole and not the “star.”
I am whatever instrument God wants me to be for the day. Today I am a saxophone–playing a “mean” accompaniment to God’s melody.

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Melannie Svoboda SND September 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

Thank you for your additional insights, James! It’s always good hearing from you! Melannie

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Chris Keil September 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Thanks Sr. Melannie! I will send this to my choir director husband and wanna be band director son!
It was so good to see you the other day! Thanks for coming! See you in February!

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Joan Campagna September 22, 2012 at 11:15 am

Sr Melannie, thanks for that great reflection. I know you are being metaphorical, but you took me back to my days in band at Elyria Catholic High School between 79 and 83! I actually remember thinking I was one of the most important persons out there, blasting away at my trombone! When our band director showed us the film of the show, imagine my surprise when I realized I didn’t have the melody, and I was only one part of this big show! Now, at 47, I realize I am part of the show, part of the team, but not the WHOLE show!

On another note, I believe you were the director of vocations around 1983 when I spent a weekend at the SND motherhouse in Chardon. They showed us the making of the “muther”…..was it the vinegar? And the rhubarb patch!’
Sr Frances Murray, Sr Dion, and Sr Jaqueline Gusdane were at Elyria Catholic when I was there. I see they are making their 50th Jubilee! Amazing.
I enjoyed the latest edition of the SND newsletter. I’ll be sending a check soon:) Am very interested in the work in India also.
PS, I am a hospice nurse with VITAS in Miami, FL.
God bless, I really have enjoyed your blogs.
Joan Campagna

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Melannie Svoboda SND September 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Dear Joan, What a wonderful story–from an actual marching band member! Thank you for sharing it. Here’s the definition of “mother” that you were writing about: “a slimy membrane composed of yeast and bacterial cells that develops on the surface of alcoholic liquids undergoing acetous fermentation and is added to wine or cider to produce vinegar.” It is a fascinating process to watch. Thank you for your support of our mission, Joan. And God bless your special ministry as a hospice nurse. Sr. Melannie

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