Mental health in the Marching Arts

As we get ready for band camp season, it is certainly important that we drink enough water and take in the proper amount of nutrition in order to perform at a high level during some long and immersive rehearsals.  If you haven't seen my strategist's guide, make sure you check it out HERE!

But I think to get ready for band camp and the upcoming marching band season, there's another grossly under looked aspect that all members must take care of as well. 

So on top of our physical health, marching members must also consider the state of their mental and emotional health.

For starters, I see a lot Students talk about how anxious or nervous they are about going into their first band camp simply because they don't know what to expect.  This can be a similar anxiousness you might feel before a performance, before you ask someone out on a date or before you interview for a job.  In those instances, my #1 advice would be to allow the anxiousness to simply be there, because for one, it is a natural emotion you should be naturally feeling before and during those events.  If you resist that emotion, it's only going to persist and perhaps even become much, much worse.  

In the event that you are nervous or anxious in any situation, one thing you can do is to change the interpretation of that feeling.  So anytime you get that nervous or anxious feeling, just say that you are excited; after all, the physiology of being nervous and being excited is pretty similar, so why not interpret it as something positive, rather than something negative?

The other thing that negatively affect a marching member's ability to enjoy their experience is related to their mental and emotional health.  If you've ever been in conflict with another member(s), section leader or Band Director or all of the above, that can certainly negatively affect your enjoyment of being in a marching band.  If you have trouble making friends, have trouble being accepted or feel like you are generally not liked within your group, that can also affect your enjoyment.  If life just generally doesn't go the way you want or expect, that can affect the enjoyment you get out of life itself.

So what can you possibly do to fix that?

Fix your mindset.

Easier said than done, I know.  But just as you work at your craft with instrumental music, mental and emotional health is a skill set you can exercise and improve over time.

You can start by not caring about what other people think about you.  During these initial life stages you are currently in, you've been taught to care about what your parents think, what your teachers think and most importantly, what your friends think so that they can love you, be satisfied with you and accept you.  Yes, it is important that you receive love, satisfaction and acceptance, but if you continue to chase the affection of others, you're going to have a hard time getting it.

Instead, focus on knowing your worth as an individual, that you are indeed awesome and you are worthy of love and respect.  If you exude that confidence, I promise you that the people around you will start to reflect that sentiment.

If you are having conflicts with other people, embrace the challenge of learning a skill set that enables you to effectively communicate and connect with a variety of different people.

If things in your life are not going the way you would like it to or expect it to, then change your life for the better as only YOU have full control over your own life.  If there are things beyond your control, then control how you react to it and figure out a way to take advantage of any situation.

This all sounds very simplistic, but trust me, these are the core concepts of highly positive and successful people.  If you follow these basic concepts, I promise that you will find yourself among the elite and no, I'm not just talking about the elite within your marching band ;)

Hope you found this helpful. 

Share this with someone who could use this as well. 

What kind of issues are you facing in your band/life today?

Karl Arrieta