This I Believe

Michael - Voorhees, New Jersey
Entered on May 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work
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The Power of Attitude

Talent is not everything. Without motivation and a positive attitude, talent is completely worthless. This is especially true in the case of a marching band. With band, there is no such thing as varsity or junior varsity, and no one sits on the bench. Everyone plays all the time, so it’s important for everyone to be on top of their game. From my experience, attitude usually means the difference between success and failure.

In high school, I was blessed with many things. I was a talented trumpet player, and I was able to play in a band with many other talented players. However, when it came to our marching band program, we could never seem to translate this mass of talent into success. Despite having a great show design and a phenomenal staff, our band consistently placed in the bottom quarter at regional competitions. Often, we finished dead last. The reason for our constant failure had nothing to do with talent. The band was unmotivated and lazy, and most of the members frequently arrived at practice late. It was like no one wanted to be there.

Thankfully, not all high school band programs are like that. Since 2005, I have had the pleasure of working as an instructor for the Pitman High School Marching Band. My responsibilities are to teach music and marching technique to the students, and overall, they are very receptive to me. They work hard, and their motivation to succeed is unlike anything I have ever seen before. During camp, the kids practice for 8 to 12 hours every day, and they never want to stop! We practically have to force them to go to bed every night. And their work ethic shows. In 2006, the band captured their first state championship in the US Scholastic Band Association, blowing away the competition by over three points, which translates to about three seconds in a swim meet. Their winning attitude is not only rewarding, it’s contagious, too. In a high school of only 475 students, the marching band has over 75 members. Compare that to the 65 people in my high school band, and we had over 2,000 students. Obviously, the Pitman band is doing something right.

Although my job is to teach the Pitman band, I have learned some valuable lessons from them. They have taught me the power of a positive attitude. Someone once told me that excellence not an act, but a habit. I never truly understood that statement before my experience with Pitman. Working with those talented, motivated people has been the most gratifying experience of my life, and what they have accomplished will impact me for a long, long time.