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Discussion Starter #1
I am really debating if I should continue to play bari in marching band or switch to alto. Last year I marched in two parades with the bari and I did okay, but I just got home from a marching practice and my back is starting to hurt. Our band is marching in a parade on Sunday and I am really worried about causing my back to be injured or hurt. I love bari but I want to switch to bari just for marching band. I am not really sure how to discuss this with my band director, or whether I should just stick with bari in marching band. I hate to just spring that on her in the middle of marching season, but I am debating whether it is worth taking the risk with bari. Does anyone have any advice or feedback on this?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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I just had back surgery and shall never play bari again. I'm OK with that. I made the mistake of "toughing it out" through a number of situations and have regretted it for a number of painful years.

I suggest listening to your body first and worrying about commitments to band later. Yes, let your band director know of your discomfort - she may be the first to suggest changing to a smaller instrument. Give her a chance to work with you.
 

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I marched with my bari in 8th grade. Depending on the parade, my instructor was open to allowing me to march with an alto. I grew up in San Francisco and parades like the Chinese new year and St Patty's day parades were long routes. I don't think it would hurt to ask the instructor if you could alternate when marching due to discomfort. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I am also concerned about my bari being ruined in the weather. Last year at our half time show it started pouring rain and I was playing my bari. My alto is just a student horn so if it gets a bit beaten up, no big deal. The school has a couple baris but none of them work, even after being repaired.
 

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That was a second thought - that if you were to march bari, don't use your own horn. Baris, and other large horns, take a beating both on the field and in the stands.

I preferred to march bass drum in high school and college rather than take my own saxophone marching. Turns out that it proved a great benefit by developing a very solid sense of time.

Cowbell???
 

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If you're not allowed to march using a good harness, I'd really not risk it against your own better judgement. I did march bari for several years, and even though I was allowed a harness it was never really fun (well, except for the sound, obviously). Marching alto is easier in almost every respect - additionally, I'm less of a show-stopper to my band (try turning right with a bari if you happen to be on the left side of the line - talk about speed limping...). Breaking it to your band director may result in her being dissappointed, even angry for spell, but marching bari may result in you getting seriously and chronically hurt. From that angle, I consider this a no-brainer.

The weather thing's overrated in my opinion; I've played all kinds of saxes outside during the winter (carnival season in Switzerland - February/March) in very bad weather, and none of them have suffered noticeably - in fact, doing that with two different baris three years in a row took a lot more toll on me than on the horns. Just make sure you wipe the horn down when you get back home (or inside); an intermediate stage between cold/wet and hot and dry (living room, roaring fire ;)), e.g. in a car, bus or hall, is favorable, but not mandatory.

M.
 

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Your health/well-being is the most important thing. Only other comment, is if your director appreciates your abilities they would rather have you switch than quit altogether.
 

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If your back is bothering you, switch and don't look back. It is NOT worth risking an injury.

Personally, I wouldn't do it at all--no marching band needs a bari sax. Make the tuba players get off their butts and practice, and go play alto instead.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I would have to agree with you. Marching bands really don't need bari players! It causes more problems, and nobody hears them or bothers to listen to them. I accidentaly whacked the girl next to me with my bari today as we were marching... oops! Anyway, thank you for the advice everyone. I think I will talk to her soon about switching to alto.
 

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I grew up in Berkeley in the 60's - and in 1963 (actually it was Jan 1st 1964), Berkeley High School represented California in the Rose Parade. 7 miles long. It was 90 degrees on that day... and we had brand new black uniforms.

Of course we were in high school, so we were all OK - the point is, the only person in the whole 90 piece band that had any trouble at all was the girl bari player. She finished the march, but was a little peakish at the end of the parade, had to lie down for a while. I forget her name...

Anyway, my advice is this - no female should play bari in a marching band, unless she is big and strong. Same goes for a man, really... there are lots of wimpy male saxophonists. By big and strong, I don't mean un-feminine or fat or dumpy, I mean like Venus Williams instead of Calista Flockhart. So look in the mirror, judge yourself objectively and make your decision. Speaking for myself, I wouldn't march playing Eb clarinet any more, but hey, I'm over 60.
 
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