Jeff Vorva’s Extra Point: Hold the phone! Even mello band members can suffer serious injuries
I laughed a little but learned a lot.
I was taken aback a bit and chuckled when the Illinois High School Association introduced a “Two Minute Drill” video reminding marching band directors in the state to pass a new concussion exam.
I wasn’t sure how band members develop concussions…maybe if a tuba falls on someone’s skull?
But, before I cracked wise too much, I decided to research this, so I Googled “Marching band concussions.’’
Up came a whole bunch of websites from schools across the country with information about how their band members need to sign forms and be aware of concussion protocol. This isn’t just an Illinois thing.
It took a while to actually find a reason for a band member to get concussed and I finally found one on the National Athletic Trainer Association site. The lead athletic trainer from Ohio University, Moegi Yamaguchi did a piece about the injuries various marching band members go through. When it came to concussions, she wrote:
“Concussions are not unusual. One memorable case occurred during a preseason rehearsal. The injured marcher was a senior mellophone player who was caught in the path of a freshman mellophone player who turned the wrong way in a formation.
“The senior was struck in the head by the freshman’s mellophone because mellophone and trumpet players usually do not raise their bells when they make a turn. Overall in marching band collisions such as these are relatively common during turns and while marching in close ranks.’’
Who knew that the mellophone could cause as much damage as a flying linebacker?
While my little mind amused by this, I also learned something that is pretty serious about the marchers.
“Consider that marching band members must carry an extra load that changes their center of mass—a flute, piccolo, or clarinet may be relatively light, but a sousaphone, bass drum, or quad drum set certainly is not,” Yamaguchi wrote. “These musicians also must hold their playing posture while moving around a field among one another in intricate patterns and, if a wind instrumentalist, maintain adequate air flow through their instrument throughout a performance.
“Many of the injuries seen in marching musicians are chronic injuries such as myofascial pain syndrome and medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). Especially during preseason rehearsals, more members experience MTSS than during the season because of their three practices per day in the preseason. Marching musicians experience myofascial pain syndrome due to poor posture and inadequate core stability to meet their activity demands. In addition, marching members may complain of muscle tightness during the season because they do not spend enough time warming up and stretching prior to rehearsals.”
That’s a little scary.
So the next time you see a marching band perform, give the musicians a little extra loud applause for their efforts because, like the athletes, they are sacrificing their bodies for you.