What do Tina Fey, Bill Clinton, and Samuel L. Jackson have in common? They are among the United States' most famous former marching-band members.
Marching bands are as American as apple pie. But behind the powerful rhythms, matching uniforms, and complicated choreography, there are young people whose lives have been deeply enriched by music.
"The majority of marching arts participants are between 14 and 22 years of age. This range often represents the most awkward and complex time in a young person’s life. They develop lasting friendships, first loves, and passions for a variety of interests," Walker Pickering wrote in the introduction to his photography project Esprit de Corps
, currently on exhibit at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas
He added in the introduction
, "Many aspects of their lives are in constant flux. Connecting music to physical activity, along with a sense of camaraderie, empowers individuals who may have otherwise been aimless and isolated."
A music education has been found to have a positive impact in the development of teenagers and young adults. A 2013 National Endowment for the Arts study
concluded that art and music students were more likely to attend college, avoid delinquent behavior, and stay away from underage drinking and the use of drugs when compared to students not involved in these activities.
Pickering, who teaches photography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was a tuba player in high school and in college. He says that his music education and participation in a marching band helped shape who he is today. It's only natural then that as a photographer he returned to his passion.
Ahead, Pickering gives us an intimate look at what it's like to be part of a marching band.