In many of the stories that have graced the silver screen, the kids in the marching band are often stuck with the "band geek" trope. However, there are a few exceptions that have given marching band a better-than-Hollywood treatment. In them lie dimension, accuracy and substantial lessons for "band geeks" and spectators alike. Though they are separated by 40 years, two films specifically have presented some of the most important lessons we've learned about marching bands from the big screen.
In 2002, the Charles Stone III-directed "Drumline" put exuberant show-style marching band center stage, focusing on the ever-present drama, on the field and off, that circulates the lives of fictional Atlanta A&T University drumline members. With "Drumline," many were introduced to the often high-stakes competitive nature of marching band, learning that these performances were no longer mere distractions to keep restless football fans occupied during halftime, but rather centerpieces in a larger, more colorful culture of competitive musicianship, with modern flair and tradition working hand-in-hand.
Rewinding 40 years prior, to 1962, "The Music Man" was creating its own buzz about marching band culture. In the beloved musical protagonist Harold Hill is a con-man selling marching band equipment to an unsuspecting town. However, it's Harold who ends up surprised by the bonding quality of music and the purity of his own heart. As publisher Christine Ngeo Katzman wrote for Halftime Magazine, the film not only shows how music brings people together, but also how the ability to perform gives many characters newfound pride and confidence.
"'The Music Man' has captured people's hearts because community, self-confidence and pride is what music education is all about; it's not necessarily just about the music itself," Katzman wrote.
"The Music Man"'s theme of character development through music (with the help 76 trombones, of course) is one truth of marching band that has rung true since the film's release.