“On Saturday morning band practice [for the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band], you do this thing called Freshmen-in-a-Line. And basically, you get the whole freshmen class up there and they’ll ask you to play a song that you should have learned in the past couple of weeks. And this one actually kind of makes sense, because you should know these songs. But if you do poorly, you have to do more laps. You already have to run a lap regardless, but if you do poorly, you have to run one where you hold an instrument over your head, or pretend to be an airplane. Silly stuff like that. If the band leader catches them doing Freshmen-in-a-Line, he tells them to stop, but it’s not actually enforced. The sophomores have to do it too, but once you’re a junior, you don’t have to do it anymore.”


Freshmen-in-a-Line establishes the hierarchical structure of the band by number of years in band. (The term freshmen is based on number of years in band, not class standing at the university. A senior at the university would, if it was his first year in band, be considered a freshmen.) Despite disapproval from the band leader, Freshmen-in-a-Line is one method of the upperclassmen mocking and hazing those band freshmen who do not perform up to standard. It continues for the next year with Sophomores-in-a-Line, though that is treated more casually. Once a band member has reached junior status, he no longer needs to participate. Once he is a senior, he decides how they will mock the freshmen and sophomores by coming up with ideas for what embarrassing or uncomfortable way they should run their laps. This speaks to the increased respect and power a band member gets each year he rises in band. The first year, he is mocked publicly. The second year, he is still picked on, but mildly. The third year, he is protected from that mockery, but forced to be a spectator, not able to participate in mocking the freshmen and sophomores. The fourth year, he is expected to mock. He rises over the four years from victim to bully as he climbs the band hierarchy.