Town Square

P.E. credit for marching band?

Original post made on May 16, 2013

Everyone seems to agree that marching up and down a football field while banging on drums or playing the horn is hard work. But while parents and band members think they should get P.E. credit for participating in the activity, physical education teachers take a different view.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 16, 2013, 11:15 AM


Posted by Proud Ex Bandie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Are they being _TAUGHT_ physical education or are they being taught music and marching?

I was in one of our local HS band in my day and yes, there were physical aspects to it, no doubt at all(esp all day summer band camp for 2 weeks), but at no time was any aspect about physical education taught to me. I totally support music programs in schools. Its so beneficial on so many different levels, but unless physical conditioning and education about how to train and physically work out smartly are part of the specified band curriculum, it simply is NOT a reasonable replacement for proper physical education.
Doing something physical and being educated about physical fitness are 2 different things entirely, and with such a huge rise in childhood obesity, actual Physical Education is more important than ever.

Posted by band parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 16, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I agree that marching band students should get PE credit.

I also have this idealistic dream of a longer school day (beyond 2:30pm) so that students can take PE and some kind of performing or fine art (drama, instrumental, choir, art?) every year.

My own daughter was so loaded up with the requisite Honors and AP courses that, as a senior, she is finally enjoying school, taking Dance for PE credit while still participating in music. All those days during sophomore and junior year when nearly all her time outside of school was spent doing mountains of homework, it would have done her good to work off some stress in a PE class.

Can the marching band and PE teachers find a way to collaborate, so that instead of cutting PE teachers our children can have more physical education in some form?

Posted by Hojo Nixon
a resident of Castro City
on May 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm

No way. Marching band is a joke. You stand around most of the time, tooting your own horn. There's no athletics involved. This is ridiculous.

Posted by Mr Advice
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I served 2 years in marching band, endless hour of drilling, and carrying some heavy, instruments gave you a workout. Hojo get a clue, obviously you don't know what your talking about!!

Posted by Wally
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Look at the flag line and marching band at San Jose State. Then tell me with a straight face that you think they are getting intense exercise

Posted by Jelly
a resident of North Whisman
on May 17, 2013 at 9:19 am

I learned more about sex in marching band than I did fitness. I still had to go play soccer to keep in shape.

Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on May 17, 2013 at 9:22 am

When I attended high school here in the local area, PE was a 2 year requirement during freshman and sophomore years. Athletics and band were above and beyond that, no PE credit for playing a sport.

I'm surprised that the state even passed that law a few years ago, allowing PE credit for extra-curricular athletics, which MVLA now follows. Times have certainly changed!

Posted by Not today
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

@Hojo Nixon: You have not been to a marching band with color guard performance recently, if you really believe what you just said.

@Jelly: I hope you were not being serious. Maybe you should have paid more attention across the board.

Posted by Sports at not PE either
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I understand what Ms. Kaufman is saying. Marching Band/Color Guard students are being taught lots of things, but not being taught PE.

However, by that logic, no sport is teaching PE. Teaching PE means to learn how to do activities to help lots of parts of your body, and it means learning many different types of sports.

If you take Soccer two years, that fulfills your PE requirement. However, you have not learned PE - only soccer. Sure, your heart is racing, you are running and kicking, but what about all the other things that PE teaches - those soccer players are not getting that.

Either require all students to take PE for 3-4 years, or don't. But, just because Marching Band/Color Guard were not approved before is not a good reason to not approve it now.

Posted by Darin
a resident of another community
on May 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Darin is a registered user.

It seems to me that the decision to allow PE credit for physical extra-curricular activities like sports and cheer has already been made. The remaining question is which extra-curricular activities are physical enough to qualify for PE credit. Are marching band or color guard physical enough? I have no experience with cheer or color guard, but the marching bands I have been in have been at least as physically demanding as some of the sports I've played.

If the issue really is "physical education" (above and beyond "physical activity"), then make provisions for students involved in ALL the physical extra-curricular activities (sports, cheer, marching band, color guard, etc.) to get the required "physical education".

Posted by hyper
a resident of Gemello
on May 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Most universities and employers are not concerned about completion of PE requirements. Most people don't learn healthy living in PE. The state education code is outdated. It is much easier to find and learn health and exercise information on the internet than it is to learn algebra or writing skills. Not sure why you should be expected to do physical activity during the school day when it can be done afterwards or just by walking to school. Allowing PE credit for band and extra-curriculars makes a lot of sense until the state education code is updated. A test of the knowledge needed to pass physical education should be used to exempt students who already know it so they can take band, English, math or some subject they need to learn better. Most private schools have already reduced PE requirements. I'd rather have my tax dollars teach students skill that will benefit the them and community the most.

Posted by peornot2pe
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Do PE classes have to have an academic component or not? If not, then I don't see any reason why marching band can't get PE credits. If the argument is that PE credits require going into some level of biomechanics, human performance theory, etc, then let's go back and examine this last year's PE classes and cancel the PE credits for any one that doesn't spend at least 10% of the time on theory. Fair? I'm betting that 75% of the classes would fail this criteria.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 17, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Three points not made in the article:
There were not just two parents making this request -- the room was FILLED with parents in support of the request.

Teaching PE does not require any special credential -- any teacher from any subject can teach PE.

Everyone still has to take PE in 9th grade -- this Is just a request to allow people to get PE credit for PE AFTER 9th grade.

This is a no brainer; the only people arguing against this are PE teachers who want and easy class to teach.

Posted by Rich
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

My son is about to graduate. He had PE with Kaufman. He did Marching Band. It was clear that he learned more about good physical habits and the value of activity from Marching Band than from Kaufman, by a long shot. He spoke enthusiastically of stretching, conditioning exercises, hydration, and dealing with injuries when he spoke of band. About PE, he spoke of standing around, being bored, and having his things stolen from his "locker" during class.

If Kaufman and her ilk did a decent job, I might feel differently, but the PE classes in our local public high schools are a waste of time for many of the students, and there are a great many wonderful things they can do with that time. I say give them that opportunity, and challenge Kaufman and her department to offer classes that have enough appeal and usefulness to attract students without having to use force to get them into the gym.

Posted by MVHS student
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I understand that this topic is a source of a lot of controversy but everything posed in this article has been based on the perspective of the adults.

I am a student at Mountain View high school, and I am in the marching band and on varsity swimming. I also had Ms. Kauffman for PE.

While I find Ms. Kauffman to be a fine physical education teacher and that her perspective may hold some ground, I would like to raise this:
If marching band can't get PE/sports credit, why does cheer, dance, and diving get sports credit?

One can argue that all three of the aforementioned are actual "sports," but none of them discuss biomechanical principles. If I remember correctly, not once in varsity swimming was biomechanical principles mentioned. (swimming is indeed, a sport (as it is in the Olympics).

Also, as a member of pep band, I get the opportunity to watch the cheer leaders clap their hands at school football games. Does clapping your hands in catchy rhythms and doing an occasional flip count as physical activity?

What about diving and dancing? Yes, I'm sure dancing is quite strenuous sometimes but does moving to music count as physical activity? Oh wait, that's exactly what marching band does! So how is it fair that dancing gets sports credit but not marching band? And as a swimmer, I watch the divers sometimes and for the majority of the time, they lie on the pool deck, basking in the warm sun.

So if all of these "sports" gets sports/PE credit, why shouldn't marching band? I've noticed a comment: "No way. Marching band is a joke. You stand around most of the time, tooting your own horn. There's no athletics involved. This is ridiculous."

Sometimes, ignorance makes me laugh. I can assure you that marching band has definitely met, no surpassed, the expectations and requirements for physical activity. (Try marching a 10 minute show at 160 beats per second while blasting a constant stream of air through your horn.)

Hopefully you will all see the logic in this and that you carefully consider this before you make any rash decisions.

Posted by Alumni
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I strongly agree with MVHS student. Being an alumni on a sport team and on the marching band, I know the comparison between both. Although track and marching band required different physical aspects, both required strenuous exercise both physically and mentally. When I was a freshman, I never understood the point of P.E. because most of the period was just spent being lectured about the sport we were trying to do. (I did not have Ms. Kaufman.) As MVHS student said, biomechanical principals weren't ever mentioned when I was on the track team, but throughout my time in the marching band, I learned many life lessons that I will take with me throughout my future along with the repetition of exercises we did that did require the biomechanical principals, which WAS explained and taught to us.

Although this controversy won't be affecting me, the unfamiliarity in some of the statements people have been saying only made me want to stand up for those who are going to be affected.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

From my personal MVHS experience: If you're a typical band geek, other than being tormented, you don't get **** out of PE anyway. There IS alot of physical activity in the marching band. What you see at a game is the final product of hours of drilling, far beyond what a typical PE 'teacher' requires from an average student.

Posted by Chris
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm

What an enlightened concept. I hope that they allow PE credit for marching band, as it most definitely teaches kids elements of physical education, including posture and breathing, that they will take with them after school. I don't know what high school PE is like these days, but when I was in high school, it was a lot of standing around wishing I could be doing anything else. Band, on the other hand, required thought, timing, proper breathing techniques, lung capacity, stamina, patience, cooperation, and coordination. And in a far more enjoyable environment than being bullied in a game of co-ed volleyball. Life's too short; let's give our students a chance to enjoy physical activity in the environment that stimulates them.

Posted by Oscar
a resident of North Whisman
on May 20, 2013 at 10:34 pm

My daughter graduated from MVHS. She had marching band and she had p.e. with Mrs. Kaufman.

She learned a lot in p.e. and found that it was an extremely important class. She did yoga, learned about health and it helped balance her busy, academic load and to this day has given her strategies to deal with stress and general physical health. I, personally, think P.E. should be mandatory for 4 years in high school.

Her experience in marching band was very different. She couldn't wait to get out of that class and found it was a waste of time. Maybe marching band would've been a better experience if the P.E. teachers had been teaching it.

Posted by Band
a resident of North Whisman
on May 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

There really is nothing beneficial about band. You might be able to hook up with some people on tour, sure, but that's not going to help you get a job in the future. Most band geeks I know ended up working at Starbucks or grocery stores. People who took PE at least learned some self discipline and weight control, which hopefully let them land better jobs.

Posted by Mo
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm

As a graduate of Los Altos High School and 4-year member of marching band, I can say without a doubt that marching band students should absolutely be getting physical education credit during the fall semester. In marching band I learned about breathing, stretching, and basic conditioning so that I could always perform to the best of my ability. Safe training practices were always emphasized, and I learned far more about how to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle than I did in the full two years of PE that I was required to take. Instead of trudging through exercises in sports I wasn't interested in, I was taught how to be self-disciplined due to the fact that my physical and mental performance affected the dynamic of the entire band. With upwards of 15 hours of rehearsal per week in addition to competitions, I am fairly certain that I fulfilled my requirement for physical education.

Right now, I am almost a college graduate, and I can say with pride that many of the best people I've met in college were members of a marching band at some point in their lives. Marching band attracts leaders, athletes, and well-rounded individuals who go on to use the skills they acquire in band to serve the greater good. I find it a disservice that these students are not afforded the same physical education credit as their peers who are involved in dance or athletics. The physical arts are just as beneficial to students as any other physical activity at the high school level, and should be treated as such.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Sign the online petition:
Web Link

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 21, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I'm a MVHS freshman, and had both marching band and PE this year. In PE there are always students that do barely any work but still get a passing grade. I haven't done nearly as much strenuous activity in P.E. as I have in marching band. Sometimes we run the mile and I get tired out, however I experience the same every day in band practice. I also find that in P.E. more of the time is spent changing, taking role, and explaining things than doing physical exercise and learning about biomechanics. As opposed to in marching band where the students are more efficient with their transitions therefore maximizing the amount of time dedicated towards the actual physical conditioning and marching. You will rarely see the marching band sitting around waiting besides our one minute water breaks. To put it simply, in P.E. there are a lot of kids that don't dress out and don't participate and get by with P.E. credits, whereas in marching band all the kids are doing more focused, intensive work and not getting any P.E. credits at all. Another thing that I've noticed is that in P.E., since it is a required class for freshmen, the students in the class are much less focused on the actual activity than in marching band where all of the members are committed to the activity they signed up to do.

On the academic level, in marching band I have learned about basic biomechanical principles, posture, breathing, and hydration, that help musically and go beyond the scope of the sport to apply to everyday life in the same way that P.E. does for some. Now I'm not saying that P.E. is a bad class. You get plenty of exercise and knowledge of the body and its workings. With that said, the P.E. students have to choose to apply themselves to get these things(which unfortunately most do not). In marching band, since it is an optional extracurricular, the students know the intensity level of the class and choose to fully participate.

Well, those are my two cents. I urge all of you reading and commenting in protest of the marching band to be fully aware of what you're about to speak out about. If you think that the P.E. classes are superior to marching band on a physical and academic level then I strongly urge you to sit in on any P.E. class and then speak your mind.

Posted by CBT
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Physical education provides a broad education in a way marching band can't because it is specific. Students are exposed to and practice skills they may not otherwise participate in at all if it wan't for physical education classes. The physical education standards cover these skills so students have enough knowledge and skill to participate in a wide variety of physical activities when they choose to over the course of the rest of their life. For those who question if physical education is academic--absolutely! Here is a link to the california physical education standards Web Link
Marching band at MVHS sound like an awesome elective and I am glad to hear how focused the participants are and how the transitions are so seem less compared to a required physical education class, but I think none of the wonderful electives mentioned (diving, marching, dance etc) should count as PE credit.

Posted by Jack P.
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

Physical fitness if more important than P.E. class. Most P.E. classes are rather pointless. I was the shortest and most light weight student in my high school. I found it pointless for me to play basketball or football during gym class. Baseball, which does not rely on physical height or weight, I excelled in, but it was not any form of useful exercise.
Marching band? Please, give me a break!
Last summer vacation, I spent ten days backpacking the Sierra crest with a 50 lb. backpack (I also carried glacier climbing gear for the snowy patches), climbed three 14,000 ft. peaks and covered over 100 miles. Two other lofty peaks I had to retreat from because of intense thunderstorm/hailstorm activity. I challenge any high school kid to keep up with me. I did this solo.
Oh, yes, and I am 59 years old this July, do not take any medications and have never visited a hospital for any type of medical procedure.
This summer I am going back for those two 14,000 ft. peaks I missed if any high school kid or parent thinks they can keep up with me.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Perhaps PE has changed, and hopefully it has since my high school adventures. At the time, vollyball and badminton were offered as PE, and were very popular with us slackers. Softball too! very low effort required. Anyone claiming marching band doesn't qualify as PE has NO idea what participating in it involves.

Posted by Andie
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 29, 2013 at 5:34 am

Does band meet the state or national standards for physical education and health education? If not it should not be counted for PE.

Posted by Bill Price
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 29, 2013 at 7:37 am

It's a common misconception that the purpose of PE class is to get students "in shape." Thus, it's easy to see why some would think that marching band or any number of other physical activities would fill the bill for physical education credit. But exercise and building fitness is a result of PE class, not the purpose.

The purpose of physical education is more long-term. It is to teach students about how to live healthy, physically active lives. They're not going to learn this in marching band, or on the basketball team etc. This view, that PE is merely exercise, is one reason why it is so lightly valued. One can exercise almost anywhere and at anytime. But taking the time to see what PE really is (or should be) would eliminate lots of the well-meaning but incorrect ideas surrounding it.

Posted by Joyful Mover
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

Do students receive marching band credit for completing physical education courses? Seems only fair to have a reciprocal arrangement for such ridiculousness.
Do they get math credit if they have a job in the Winn Dixie as a cashier? Seems as though cashiers should get interdisciplinary credits for math, reading, technology AND PE, since they are scanning numbers and words on a machine while standing, don't you think? even though they may not be able to read, count, make change or know anything about technology, or be physically literate. Is there a curriculum for learning physical literacy? oh,'s called physical education.

Posted by marching band mom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

PE credit for marching band?

Here's your answer, courtesy of a recent MVHS grad:

Web Link

Posted by The Doctor
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

This year in our Marching Band, there were specified conditioning exercises that we did as part of the Band program. If all Bands wanting to get credit were to introduce routines similar to this, then I could see them getting PE credit in the future.

Posted by Sam
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Just so you all know I am a Senior in high school. I have taken several P.E. classes and not a lot of teaching goes on in any of those. At the end of the semester every student gets handed a study guide and is told to memorize it for a low points test. I think that marching band, athletics, color guard, dance, cheer and all that stuff should count as a P.E. credit because they do just as much as the regular PE classes do. If the students get a study guide and get tested on it, that's the norm. This allows students to do something other than P.E. during their high school years.

Posted by Bdawg99
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Marching band is anything but a joke! Kids put their lives into their performance and they leave their hearts on the field. It take dedication and time and practice to do half of what these kids do. Hojo, that comment proves that you are a joke. I bet you couldn't even do anything that us marching band people can do.

Posted by Pori Z.
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 2, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Pori Z. is a registered user.

You guys think the Marching Band and Color Guard is a joke?!?! Take a moment to let me laugh at your face. (hahahahahahahahahahahaha............HA!) I was the Captain of the Color Guard and my older brother played the french horn with the band. We spent countless hours practicing our butts off to make a perfect show. You try running from one end of the field to the other in less than a minute! I almost broke my ankle running on the field, and my hand tossing my rifle. The band wears three layers of clothing (living in California) in 100 degree heat marching 6 miles. It's not fair that the JROTC gets credit for sitting at a desk all day. (source from a friend in the JROTC) It's not fair that the Cheerleaders get credit for cheering. Even dance gets PE credit; Color Guard IS Dance!!!!!! We devote our free time AND study time for the Band. The Marching Band is like my second family; my band teacher is like my second mom; the band room is like my second home. Unless you've been in the band or guard, you can't say that we don't do anything physical. In my school, the Debate Club is considered a sport; why nit us?!

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 3, 2016 at 8:02 am

Some high schoolers walk or bike to school. Should that count as Physical Education? Some bands, including at Grambling University, run through formations - as the last poster emphasizes. Should that count as P.E.? Should students receive physical education or physical exercise or both? I believe dtudents should learn to exercise all of their lives. I suggested years ago self-defense and dance as exercise with extra benefits. But publuc schools do not change so quickly.

Posted by Marching band
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 9:24 am

Dear Hojo Nixion and Wally,

Please go and spend a day with your local Marching Band. Then after that you can pass any judgment you want. Also I am in Marching Band and we do a lot more then just tote a horn. If you don't want to spend time with a Marching Band then just hold a instrument up for over seven minutes. Bet you won't be able to. Now stop being idiots, passing judgment on things you know nothing about.