Strive E-magazine

Have you thought about...

…playing in a marching band?

By Michael Alford

marching bandThe increasing variety of technologies such as apps and modern digital equipment, combined with a few age-old communication methods developed for the visually impaired, such as Braille, are making most activities accessible even for those with extremely severe sight impairments, but walking around while playing music can really feel like a no-goer.

But like most things, it’s a lot easier than you might initially think. Over 90% of the time, you’re marching over level terrain, so there’s no real risk of running into unknown obstructions; the more important requirement is to have enough sight to see where all your band mates are. As with most things in life, people are generally quite willing to help, and will find ways to work around any challenges you may have.

I play a variety of instruments (mainly percussion) and a variety of genres, so I’ve had experience in everything from singing in a choir to playing solo. They all have something to be said for them, but nothing quite beats the thrill of playing in a marching band. The bands I’ve been in have never been negative about my visual impairment, and have readily made small adjustments to meet my needs.

If you play a wind or percussion instrument and enjoy a dose of lively military music (which can actually be quite varied, but is always great fun), and if you have even a little sight, why not give it a try? Whatever band you want to play in, be it a Scottish pipe band (like me), fife and drum corps, or a marching symphonic wind band, search the Internet for your local band of choice and ask to join. It could be well worth your while.

Do you have an unusual hobby others may not have considered? We would love to hear your comments or any further advice you can share in the comments at the end of this article.

Written by Michael Alford

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About Michael
Young Ambassador


Michael was born and raised in South Africa, where he was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia. He moved to the UK with family three and a half years ago and here continued his education, completing his A-levels last year. He enjoys music and is an enthusiastic drummer/percussionist and organist and has played a significant part in his school’s cultural life.

When Michael joined VICTA as an ambassador he was looking for an accounting apprenticeship and has since secured a post as a Business Administration Apprentice at Bristol City Council. Michael ultimately hopes to run his own business. Michael applied to join the VICTA Young Ambassador programme as he felt it would be an exciting opportunity to take on a different challenge and learn some new skills other than those acquired during his formal education. He hopes this will be a valuable addition to his CV and support him towards finding the right job. It also presented an opportunity for him to make his contribution to improving understanding and opportunities for the visually impaired in the workplace.

Michael hopes that his education and previous experiences will allow him to be an effective contributor to this exciting venture, and moreover, looks forward to the experience he will gain from being part of it.

Visit Michael’s LinkedIn profile here >


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