J: Ok, I spoke with you earlier this week about different traditions we do as a band, and was wondering if you’d mind sharing some of them.
T: You know I’m always happy to help you out. What would you like to know?
J: Well, how about Summer Band? We can start there. What’s the first thing, besides the heat, that comes to mind when you think of Summer Band?
T: Hmm, well that would have to be “Pride Time.”
J: Can you explain what that is?
T: Well, let’s see…OK, during Summer Band, which is the first week we begin on our marching music for the season, we get a lot of freshmen who have never marched before. Because of that, they have to be disciplined. To do that we have the entire band stand outside at attention. Should I explain what that is?
T: Attention is a position where the body is completely still, your arms are at your sides, your feet are together, and you’re looking straight ahead. But do not…I repeat, do not, lock your knees.
J: Or you’ll pass out.
T: Exactly. But back to Pride Time; after you come to attention, you stay in that position for about a minute, and you do not move.
J: Why is that?
T: It’s to teach the younger kids, and remind the older ones, that your body is a temple, and you have to teach it to remain still at all times on the field unless you’re executing a move in the marching show.
J: So what happens if someone moves during Pride Time?
T: Well, we call “At Ease”, which means everyone leaves attention, and then we call attention again and start over. We do it again and again until everyone has been able to remain still for at least one minute.
J: And after that?
T: After that, either the drum major or myself will call out, “Who’s got the best band?” To which the band will respond, “We do!” Then the leader will call, “Dismissed!” And the band will respond with, “Pride!” After that, practice ends. And we carry this process out at every rehearsal during the marching band season.
J: Oh, before I forget, who taught you about Pride Time?
T: I learned about special calls and routines and endurance exercises when I was in band as a kid, and through college, and graduate training. So when I came to Forrest City, I wanted to keep up the tradition that had helped me.
J: Interesting! I didn’t know that!
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to interview my former band director about a few of the traditions we had back when I was in the high school band, because a lot them resonated with me and I carry out some of them today. Pride Time was one of the most grueling exercises I’ve ever experienced. Imagine standing completely still at 12 Noon while the sun is blazing above you and it’s 110 degrees. A minute under those conditions will test the resolve of any band member, but year after year the band survived. Even during the year when I was drum major, and I was an especially tough drum major, the band rose to the occasion and was stronger for it. It’s a test of endurance that strengthened my body all four years of my marching band career and it’s a tradition that will continue to train the future band students to come.