My first LOMB child joined the Front Ensemble. Front ensemble is the official name for the team of students who stand along the front sideline playing non-mobile instruments- marimba, vibe, synthesizer, bass, etc. Pit kids (that’s the unofficial name) have some amazing skills but they never leave their own personal 4 foot diameter circle. No one builds calves of steel playing in the Front Ensemble.
So I was downright shocked when my second child joined marching band two years later as a mellophone. She was up and down the field, forwards, backwards, running, jogging… I regret not tagging her ear with one of those polar bear radio devices. I’m dying to know how many calories they consume during a 9-9 rehearsal.
Enjoying the visual image of me taking down my daughter with a sedative dart gun? Measuring her growth patterns, clamping a satellite-tracking collar around her neck, and doing all this while she’s sprawled out on the LO of the football field? Well, that right there is the kind of comedy gold I’m here for.
But the subject today is shoes and I’ve digressed into the migratory patterns of teenage band kids.
The point is that they really burn through shoe rubber during marching season.
Get your kid some good shoes. Get ‘em two pairs if they have stink-foot. We’re talking about good quality athletic shoes with a proper fit and the range of flexibility that your child prefers.
They’re not just on their feet a lot, they’re Moving. That’s Moving with a great, big capital M. To make matters worse, for the first half of the season, they do a lot of training in the teacher’s parking lot rather than on a grass field. So not only are they wearing down the interior shoe structure but they’re quickly scraping off the sole.
You know how Jenny gives Forrest Gump a pair of Nikes and he wears them until they disintegrate? That’s what’s about to happen to your child’s footwear. So keep an eye on ‘em and refresh as necessary.
And it goes without saying that flip flops, slides, skimmers, clogs, heels, slippers, Keds, Uggs, and any other type of decorative or stylish footwear is strictly banned from marching band rehearsal. If you ever want to see Mr. Steele turn 50 shades of purple, wear flip flops.
But what about the black marching shoes? Don’t we buy a pair of shoes specifically for marching?
We do, but here’s what I’ve noticed. This is not official policy, just a parent-in-the-stands observation.
Shoe purchases happen in July and I don’t really notice many kids wearing them until the after-school season starts. That's a full two months later. The uniform shoes are excellent! They're specifically designed for the kind of marching that these kids do but I suspect they’re also not very well ventilated. Once we move into late competition season rehearsals, the vast majority of kids do practice in their black shoes (not all, most) but that always seems to be AFTER the weather turns.
And here’s another important tip: If you’re squeezing your budget on black marching shoes, hoping for two seasons of wear before you replace them, DO NOT send the shoes to band camp.
Remember Pig Pen from the Peanuts comics? Giant dust cloud with dead leaves and assorted grit following him around? That is every single kid at band camp.
The practice pitch at band camp is a hardscrabble grass field. By the end of the week there is no grass. You can tell how hard they’ve practiced by measuring the air quality. Sending shiny black shoes into that scenario never ends well.
So that is my treatise on footwear.
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