5 Tips For Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse….or Summer With Your Band Staff

debaseinstallMarching Band

Here in Florida we are gearing up for the start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The public service announcements that will help us learn our evacuation zone will begin. There will be an influx of insurance commercials warning us to get our flood insurance now. Late night lawyers will come on television ready to take on the insurance companies, as well as your neighbor who didn’t secure their garage door properly. June 1st will also bring one more thing. It brings the start of what many call the “summer band season.” This is the season of preparation for fall competitions, football games, and pep rallies. It’s hot. Most people would rather be at the beach than on a hot black top learning dots. (If you would rather be on a hot black top instead of the beach…well we need to chat.) Summer band practices are a necessary evil to prepare and it’s the time of year where words like sunscreen, water jug, baseball cap, and cushioned socks take on a whole new meaning.
So how do you get ready for this? How do you prepare?
Well, first you have to know that there are three groups of people who you will encounter. There are your fellow performers…your friends…your confidants…the people who will be there for you when you are singled out and asked to play that one phrase by yourself in front of everyone. Then there are the parents. They are their own breed. They are the people who will bring you water when you forgot yours. They set up the snacks and are there to make sure the staff don’t forget to hydrate you. They are on a constant lookout for lightning. The last group is the most important. They are the staff and to survive them you have to think in terms of a zombie apocalypse. These people are obsessed. How many dots can we get on the field today? How long can we go without a break? (Enter the parents) Is there a way we can stick the freshmen behind a flat until the last 8 counts of the show? Can we get this 4 foot nothing guard girl to run from the 25 yard line to the other 25 yard line, while carrying this large banner above her head and get her there in 16 counts?
How do you survive them? What do you do?
1. You first have to know your staff
I found this great zombie chart and figured we could use it as an example. Is your guard instructor a crawler? Do they sit in the stands and never join you on the field? Is your band director a walker? Does it take him or her 15 minutes to walk 3 yard lines to get to you? Well…you can out run them. You are more fit and younger. You got this. Just take off if you have to. Be careful though, and don’t misjudge them. They may look like a crawler, but can get a burst of energy and can turn into a runner in a matter of seconds, especially if they are angry and one of your peers doesn’t know their music. If  this happens don’t make eye contact.  Keep your head down and get out of their way.
Do you have staff that look like they work out? Do they wear clothes that just scream “iron man?” Do they look like they just ran a marathon? If they look like they are going to the gym after practice, then know that you most likely won’t be able to out last them physically and they are most likely a “runner.” You will have to use your mind. Start working on your ninja skills to out smart this nimble and powerful zombie.
Then there is the “Thriller.” This person usually is a guard instructor and more specifically a choreographer. This person is most likely standing in the end zone with a flag writing work that can’t possibly be accomplished by November, much less in the 16 counts you have to run from the 25 yard line to the other 25 yard line. Take them out when they least expect it. It is your only chance. They are dangerous.
2. Supplies


Any professional in the world of disaster preparedness will tell you that if you enter hurricane season without any preparation and just assume you will be fine, then you pretty much are subjected to the whims of Mother Nature and good luck with that. You can’t prepare for everything, but you can at least try. Put forth a good effort, because band staff zombies are tough zombies to fight.
  • Water
  •  Food
  • Running shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilet paper
Most of these are self explanatory. You have to hydrate and eat. You have to stay strong and mentally able to manage all challenges. Food and water are necessities for this. Running shoes are a necessity if you plan to stay one step ahead of the zombies and protect your calves. Sunscreen and hats will protect you from the sun. The hat will also add a layer to protect your brain, since zombies try to eat brains.A towel will keep sweat from falling in your eyes. YOU DO NOT WANT TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF THE ZOMBIES FOR EVEN A MINUTE! Protect your eyes. Sunglasses will not only protect your eyes, but really dark ones allow you to mind meld with the staff when they don’t realize it, thus giving you breaks when they weren’t ready to. 
Toilet paper! Most important. Many schools don’t stock up during the summer. The last thing you need is an “uncomfortable feeling” while trying to manage a zombie apocalypse. 
3. Do not bring attention to yourself!

This is the worst thing you could possibly do. I’m not a zombie expert, but it seems to me that in every zombie movie the first person to die is always the person that brings attention to themselves. How do they do this? Well, it starts with preparation. They aren’t prepared. They don’t have a plan. 
In the world of band, it’s usually the person that does one of the following: 
  • Passes out (Because they thought it was cool to not eat that morning)
  • Sits out (Because water was something they thought they could do without)
  • Forgets supplies all together
  • Cries (Don’t cry. Once you cry, it’s like being in the water with a piranha and there is no escape.)
  • Walks back to their set, when the zombie staff clearly yelled, “Run!” 
  • Cheats (The zombies said do 20 push ups and you did 11 and tried to play it off as 20, hoping they won’t notice. They noticed. Prepare to have your brain eaten.)
The most important way to not get noticed is to be alert and aware of the next tip:
Know your stuff!!

The easiest way to get noticed is to come to practice without having your music memorized and without having practiced the guard work you learned last week. If you didn’t pick up your instrument or flag from the time practice ended on Tuesday to the time practice starts next Tuesday, then you are not only going to be zombie food, but your friends who are also trying to not get noticed, will leave you to fend for yourself in the midst of hungry band staff corpses. So, the lesson to learn from this is be prepared to throw down the Thriller Dance when asked. If the zombies break out into random choreography, it’s important that you blend in. 
4. Make Friends

There is safety in numbers. Your friends are the greatest zombie defense of all time. Try if you can to become friends with a more experienced zombie fighter. They will help you to not get noticed. Now, chances are they will leave you to fend for yourself if the zombies target you and if you are a threat to their survival, but they will be there to help put what is left over of your brain back together, when the apocalypse has ended. By making friends, you have a better chance of sharing supplies if you run out. You might even have a friend who becomes “close” with the zombies. This is an important friend. Also, it’s important that the friends you surround yourself with aren’t psychopaths. Don’t befriend the person who is trying to challenge the zombies by totally ignoring tip number 3. Your entire group will go down together if you follow the path of this person. Use common sense and stick together at all times. If everyone works together as a team, the chances for success and survival are a lot higher.
5. Be Fit!

This is the foremost rule in all zombie battles. Get in shape now before the apocalypse begins. Get use to the heat. Remember, zombies are the undead. The elements of weather don’t bother them. Rain and heat go unnoticed by them. 
Run. Be able to run a mile without hearing the phrase, “My grandmother runs faster than you and she uses a walker!” Remember, that most zombies don’t run. This is beneficial during the apocalypse. 
Build core strength.  All strength in the body is supported by the strength of your core. In other words…build up your stomach area. Planks, sit ups, pilates, and yoga will all help. Core strength is the key to your posture and strength in your back. 
Build the muscles in your arms. Want to hold that instrument up for long periods of time? Drop spins that go on for hours? Push ups that you didn’t expect? Start now with those push ups. Building your muscles will help you push the zombies away if they get close to you.
Build physical and mental endurance. You will need endurance more than anything else for survival. Mentally prepare yourself to handle the unexpected. Many zombie staff will often say, “Toughen up!” Building your endurance will allow you to handle the elements, long hours, tough practices, and your friends who aren’t in marching band sending your texts from the beach. You need to physically be able to handle the rigors of practice, but also the mental challenges. Stay positive. Know that you can do it. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Get to know your staff. Know their patterns. Listen. Follow directions. 
Be Prepared!

This is your time and you can either make it fun or a constant struggle. How do you do it? You follow the directions I listed here and you have a sense of humor about it. Make it all a game with your fellow performers. Have zombie apocalypse preparation parties. The more prepared you and your fellow teammates are, the more fun it will be and the more you will accomplish. I’ve been teaching a long time and the one thing I have noticed is that the kids who come unprepared are the ones who either end up quitting or end up having a terrible time. Performers who are creative, have a sense of humor, work to build the team as opposed to tearing it down, and who listen usually find their experience pretty incredible. 
My best friend Mikey and I became friends when I taught him at the Alliance of Miami. We became friends because Mikey knew how to handle the zombie apocalypse. He knew his stuff, came prepared, and entered the gym with a sense of humor. He got to be so good at fighting the zombies that all he had to do was say, “Girl please,” and all of a sudden everyone was on a break. You can also do it. You can fight the zombies and win. I promise you!