The Paulding County School District does not have any physical exam requirements for students to march — all they need is the ability to play and stick with it, said Executive Director for Safety and Athletics Don Breedlove.
Chris Carr, band director at South Paulding High School, said he requires his students to fill out a medical release — which only lists physical limitations — and they need their parent’s permission.
This year he has 120 students in the band ranging from ninth- to 12th-graders.
“They have to be in a band class to be able to march,” he said.
Most of his students come into the band with prior experience playing an instrument.
“When you get to high school we will teach you how to march,” he said.
To prepare for their show students were required to attend band camp, which started for rookies on July 8 and everyone else July 15.
The band practiced 85 hours before school started, and will practice 115 hours before their first football game, Carr said.
The band plans to attend two competitions this year, he said.
Hiram High School band director Adrian Gibson said his band also started band camp July 15. His 122 students practiced 92 hours before the school year started, and will practice 124 hours before their first football game.
He said he does not require them to get physicals either.
“I pitch it as a good idea,” Gibson said.
He also suggests they lift weights, eat healthy and drink plenty of water to make sure they are in shape for the physical demands of the activity.
His new students come in with just their knowledge of playing their instruments, he said.
Gibson teaches them how to condition their bodies to march, how to hold their instrument while marching and how to start every movement with their left foot.
“I don’t think people understand how complex it is,” he said. “It is hard work to be successful.”
His students also are required to be in a class to march, and have to bring their own instruments.
Hiram plans to go to two competitions and host one of their own, Gibson said.
Both Carr and Gibson said their bands would not be able to function without the help of their band booster clubs, which raise funds and help support the band by volunteering to assist with concession stands.
“Bands at the high school level do not survive without the booster club,” Gibson said.