There are more colors to color guard than what you may see.
Trinity Advincula-De Los Angeles
Reds, blues, white, oranges, yellows, any color you can think of. The ethereal cloth careening through the sky like feathers on the wings of a bird. In the background, The Huntress can be heard, keeping its steady beat. On their foreheads, sweat perspired on the surface of their skin while the guard maintained their bright smiles. The audience stood on the sides, spellbound by the lively melody of the march and the captivating sea of colors that surrounded them.
If you’ve ever watched the color guard, it may seem like people who are just twirling flags and dancing, but there’s more to it than that.
To some, it’s a new and enriching experience, for others, it’s a safe haven and a happy place. Color guard doesn’t just add color to the field show, but also into the lives of each of the members.
“I think if I hadn’t joined color guard my life would be really boring,” Emily House (12) said. “I wouldn’t have the friends I have. It’d be really boring and sad, and I wouldn’t know what to do.”
Emily House is the current color guard captain of American Eagles Color Guard, and has been in color guard since her freshman year. Before this, she played trumpet, and she utterly hated it. Even though Emily was pretty involved with the band, she felt isolated. She didn’t develop that same connection with others that her classmates had with each other. For her, it was: go to school, then go home; so when high school came, her parents made her pick between being in band or doing something else to keep her busy. Knowing that she hated playing, her brother told her that she could join color guard since they don’t play any instruments and just wave flags around, and so, she did.
“I went to the clinic, and I had a lot of fun,” Emily shared, “I already enjoyed it, and I came home, and I was so excited, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Emily faced a lot of difficulties though, such as having to dedicate almost all her time outside of band into practicing. Unlike the instrumentalists, color guard meets every Monday in addition to the weekly Wednesday and Friday rehearsal. If that wasn’t enough, when she comes home, she puts even more time into practice just by herself. She didn’t have a lot of after band time due to her busy schedule, and had to sacrifice spending time with her friends, getting a job, and even some of her homework time. Even though she’s had to give up a lot of her free time, this never discouraged her from enjoying and loving color guard, especially when she was on the field.
“I just get a really good, warm, fuzzy feeling while I perform,” Emily says, “I’m entertaining these people with what I’ve worked so hard on, and it’s, like, really rewarding.”
Emily really enjoys the aspect where she gets to smile and show off to the audience. She likes engaging the crowds and making other people amazed with her performance. Color guard is a lot of hard physical conditioning and discipline. Not only is it physically stressful, but also mentally stressful because of the pressure. For her though, the positives outweigh the negatives because all of the hardships she goes through in the end are worthwhile when she performs. Not only has color guard added color to her life, but it’s also changed her as a person. Color guard has become an important part of her life, and she wouldn’t ever give it up for anything.
“It taught me a lot about myself, and it taught me how to make friends, and to be a person.” Emily said. “I love guard, and I love what I do, and I love how from guard I’ve gotten a lot of really close friendships and I just…would never not do guard.”
Now Emily helps guide those who are new, like Rebecca Beddingfield, where color guard is a completely different experience.
Rebecca, like most who join band, was in the band beforehand and played the clarinet. In addition, to this, Rebecca was also part of a competitive gymnastics team. She grew up with people who were in band or are currently in band. She had been watching color guard for six years, so whenever she went to see marching band field shows the only part she would really watch was the color guard. Watching them brought her these awe moments that made her want to join color guard.
“At some points I was like: that’s so cool, I wanna be cool.” Rebecca Beddingfield (9) says as she describes the times she went to watch performances when she was a kid.
New to color guard, Rebecca faces a lot of challenges. Sometimes she even questions herself if she really wants to be in color guard or not. When she first started learning she wanted to give up because when the moves left her confused. Being a freshman, Rebecca also feels a little alone because there are only a few freshmen in color guard, and the rest are upperclassmen. This makes her a little nervous, especially of the upperclassmen, but Rebecca has persevered.
“I really like how dramatic it is,” Rebecca says, “And how it’s like a group effort.”
There’s many things that Rebecca likes about color guard, and there’s also some things that she doesn’t like. Rebecca likes the teamwork that is required to make a successful color guard, and the dramatic subtleties of color guard. What she doesn’t like, however, are drills. Rebecca doesn’t like carrying it and flipping the pages, and to have to move around to the drill. Even so, Rebecca still appreciates the drill for how cool it looks to the audience when they get to see it.
“I’ve had to meet a lot of new people,” Rebecca says, “and it’s been, like, really great.”
Color guard has brought some new changes that Rebecca would’ve never gone through if she weren’t in color guard. She’s learned not to give up when she really wants to do something. Rebecca has also learned to take constructive criticism in a positive way and in a way that will help her improve. She’s also had to interact and socialize with people more often than she was used to. Color guard has not only helped her improved professionally, but also on a more personal level.
“As a person, I’ve wanted to give up a lot,” Rebecca says, “I’ve began, as a person, to stick on to things and want it. Even though I really don’t know how I can do it.”
Like Rebecca, Isabelle Lam (12) is new to color guard, but marching band wasn’t. Isabelle is a senior who was in the marching band as a trumpet for 3 years, and then switched to color guard at the start of this season. This might be unexpected for someone’s last year, but Isabelle really felt that she wanted to try something challenging. She wanted a change, to take a shot at something new, so she decided to join color guard. In addition, Isabelle also strived to maintain the physical endurance she needed for pole-vaulting. While marching band is physically exhausting, it really comes down to the endurance rather than the strength. Color-guard gives her the opportunity to continue building her strength and physical abilities throughout the year so she doesn’t need to build it all back up when pole vaulting comes around.
“I really do love it now,” Isabelle (12) says. “It’s so much fun being able to exercise and really push myself to hold that flag at a 90 degree angle… So it’s difficult, but I think, I really like it.”
There are major differences between being an instrumentalist, and being a color guard member. The main difference is the way you have to learn. The way instrumentalists learn is by looking at a paper that tells you what to do, and she says that it’s a sort of “Read and do” kind of learning. Color guard on the other hand is more of a “Hear, Remember, and do”. While color guard does have drill like the rest of the marching band, the drills for color guard are constantly changing due to improvements and modifications because they want to make it better.
“The differences are mostly physical, and how we have to learn,” Isabelle said. “But this learning experience is very good….Like in the real world, no one will actually teach you or tell you the guideline. You just have to continue learning and acquire skills as you go.”
When she first joined, Isabelle was having second thoughts. She missed the trumpets, and sometimes wondered if she should go back. The transition for Isabelle was really difficult because the trumpets had become a second family to her. She really liked color guard, and was eager to learn, but because she had to essentially, start all over again, she felt that maybe she shouldn’t have done it. However, Isabelle pushed through this challenge because she didn’t want to stop something that she couldn’t finish.
“So, that’s the challenge I really wanted to get over with myself. Get off your high horse and do it, you can do this. ” Isabelle said, “And…here I am now, I’m happy.”
What Isabelle really loves about color guard is how the choreography and themes tie together to portray the story of the music. Color guard is the visual representation of the music’s feelings and ideas. She felt that color guard really captures the essence of the music for those who are less musically inclined, and less likely to notice the subtleties of the pieces played.
“I feel like they need to see it to believe,” Isabelle states. “Most normal audiences internalize music by ‘Oh, that feels very nice’, or, ‘Oh, that feels so sad. They don’t see the story anymore, and the story gets lost.”
Isabelle learned more than just techniques with flags, she also learned how to adapt. It’s taught her how to persevere and not give up because of changes in her life. The drastic change between color guard and being a trumpet player was hard for her, but she learned how to work with it and actually love it. It developed more confidence in herself and made her stronger.
“This adaption really set in stone that I could do this. I could get through any challenges in life.”