By Sarah Saucedo
The marching band and music world have been integral parts of my life for 25 years now. Not only was I involved in the activity in high school, but I married into it as well! I have lived and breathed music on both sides of the fence for most of my life, and it has changed my life for good.
The funny thing is, I never learned how to play an instrument. Both of my parents were musicians and my mother tried to teach me piano as a young child but I didn't stick with it. I was involved in choir for a few years, but when high school hit I wasn't involved in music or many extracurricular activities.
Friends of mine joined the marching band our sophomore year (our high school was only three years at the time) and I went to the competitions and football games to cheer them on. I was intrigued by the guard and what they brought to the show. So when they told me there were last minute auditions our junior year, I jumped at the chance.
That began a series of events that changed the course of my life for the better. My home life at the time was not good -- and I fully believe that I would be living a very different life right now had I not walked into the school that summer morning and decided to try out for the flag corp.
Marching band saved me in more ways than I can count.
I believe being involved with a group activity like marching band helps to change the trajectory of many kids' lives. The dedication and devotion needed is similar to that of sports, but I don't know of any sport where hundreds of students have to work together every single time for months on end...let alone be perfectly in sync during performances.
Not only does marching band teach you how to work with a large group of people, it teaches independence as well. It was incredibly empowering to realize how far I could push myself, that I could achieve excellence with hard work. I was given a leadership role and realized how much I enjoyed teaching others. Marching in front of thousands of people in professional football stadiums gives you a confidence and a "high" that is hard to match throughout the rest of your life.
But band also taught me humility. Rarely during a marching band performance is it ever just about you -- you are one piece of a very large, moving puzzle. No one in particular shines, but if everyone does their job, the whole group wins (whether they actually win or not!). This is something I have carried with me since.
I remember going off to college (after much thought I decided not to do college band) and missing that comradery so very much. For the first time in a long time I wasn't part of something much bigger than myself. But the work ethic and determination that I developed are the tools that have made me a successful woman, wife and mother. (Or at least always striving to be!)
I met my husband, Richard Saucedo, in the band world. The day I married him was the day I not only promised myself to him for the rest of my life, but also music and band as well. I just didn't completely understand that at the time! My husband's life passions are his family, music and students. I've seen him change the lives of thousands of children over the years because of his dedication to them and his unwavering drive for excellence.
I know first hand that music can move the needle in a child's life. I felt my course change for the better when I became involved in marching band. My stepdaughter absolutely fell in love with performing and her talent was singing. Our boy is absolutely his father's son -- as a toddler he stood in front of the marching band "conducting" with his daddy -- and we were all shocked at much he understood the nuances of the music, even then.
Now, when I see our son sit with his father at the piano...it fills me with a joy that is all consuming. I know that as long as our boy has music, he'll have help navigating the ups and downs of life now and as he grows. Band provides a safe haven, friends who understand you, teachers who support and inspire, and a place where you learn real life skills that will stay with you throughout the rest of it.
Marching band changed my life for the better and I am so fortunate to be able to watch it change the lives of hundreds more year after year. The Marching Beyond Halftime documentary will go far to show the world the importance of music education in our schools.
We hope you will join with us in support of this important film both financially as well as in spreading the word about this campaign.