On the Connecticut River
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Memorial Field, a football field at Dartmouth College, during a game, as seen from the marching band's location behind a color guard flag in the home stands.

I played the flute for two years in elementary school. I had a lot of fun doing it but quit at the end of sixth grade because I wanted to focus on other pursuits, particularly spelling and dance. While this was absolutely the right choice for me, I found myself in the marching band my junior year of high school anyway—I had decided to move on from competitive dance but still really enjoyed creative movement and craved the unparalleled feeling I got from performing, so I decided to join my school's color guard. Since I had dance experience already, I got to do some really fun dance solos in our shows, but I also had the chance to acquire the new skill set of incorporating equipment like flags and (fake) rifles into the movement that I loved so much. As with learning any new skill, it was a challenge sometimes—I notoriously have two black eyes in my driver's license photo because I'd fractured my nose by dropping a rifle toss on it earlier in the week—but it was always rewarding.

When I graduated high school, having my final guard season cut short by the pandemic, I knew I'd miss it a lot. Dartmouth (and most of the Ivies) have a scatter band. We don't march drill while playing; instead, we run around the field in chaos before suddenly forming a rehearsed shape and playing at a standstill in that shape. Typically, during the chaos portion, a series of (usually so-bad-they're-good) jokes are being made over the loudspeaker related to the shape and/or song. It's for fun, rather than the preparing-for-competition environment I was used to in high school, and what I loved so much about guard was the opportunity to perform and display emotion while incorporating both dance and equipment techniques while moving around the field. For that reason, although I knew Dartmouth had a marching band as one of the Hop Ensembles, I wasn't particularly interested in getting involved.

As such, I went through my first year and a half at Dartmouth without making any kind of contact with the Dartmouth College Marching Band, but my sophomore winter, a 25 friend who'd joined the percussion section without any musical experience let let me know that their one cymbal player was graduating. He wanted me to come to one rehearsal to see if I was interested—as he could vouch for firsthand, no experience was required, and he thought I could pick up some basic cymbal skills relatively quickly. I reluctantly agreed to attend a rehearsal one day, anticipating that it would be a one-time thing, but as different as it was from my high school guard experience, I had a lot of fun and haven't looked back since! I started in the middle of the winter when we only played as a pep band at basketball games, so my first field season (where we play at halftime at football games) wasn't until my junior fall. On top of the halftime field show, we got to play tunes in the stands throughout the game and lead chants. As spontaneous as it was, I was so glad I decided to stick with the cymbals! I'm currently serving as a co-social chair for the band as well, coordinating annual traditions and social events from pancake breakfasts before games to group cabin trip adventures :

A green, silver, and white flag on a white pole rests in the middle of the large "D" on the Dartmouth football field during the Dartmouth College Marching Band's field rehearsal.
My flag during field rehearsal!

The DCMB, as we affectionately call it, does have a small color guard, but I didn't go straight into that section since I was recruited specifically for cymbals. This summer, though, after seeing some of my childhood friends perform in world class DCI guards (not the subject of this blog post, but you should look it up if you don't know what it is because it's SO cool), I realized I missed guard, and though it's certainly not anywhere close to the DCI level, I decided to switch sections to the DCMB color guard and pick up spinning again! I've had a lot of fun relearning the skills, and though I'm a bit rusty, I really missed having this creative outlet. I really didn't think I'd find myself doing guard in college again, but here I am, and I couldn't be happier. I'd definitely recommend getting involved in the DCMB to anyone who wants a more casual performance environment alongside silly shenanigans, cheesy comedy, and often a free concession item at football games!

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