CANTON, Mich. - It's not going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of work. But ask Mike Wells if there's a payoff, and his answer is an unequivocal 'yes.'
"We tell kids all the time, you never know until you try it," he said. "I think there are very few activities nowadays that we can tell you 'this is going to take a lot of time, this is going to take a lot of effort, but we promise you by the end, it's going to be worth it.'"
At the end of marching band season, the Plymouth Canton Educational Park would probably agree. Coming off a trip to the national championships, the band - marching 160 strong - placed 25 out of 100 teams from across the country. And here's their three drum majors to tell you why.
"We have a long history of excellence and we just want to live up to that," said Kiana Vannest.
"We don't really focus on the pressure of that, we just go and have as much fun as we possibly can," said Maggie Myles.
"I'm really passionate about music and I love every single second that I get to play my instrument and hear other people play their instrument, it's always really really fun," said Michael Montesi.
This isn't the first time the band has performed at the national competition, and they have the banners to prove it. But for Wells, an alumnus of the program and current band director that shouldn't detract from its significance.
"It's a pretty big event - it's something the students look forward to every year," he said.
His associate directors of the band would agree.
"It was very special, it's something I'll remember forever. The kids were just so excited," said Andy Raven.
"Not only is it a big competition, but it's like their culminating performance from an entire season of a lot of hard work, a lot of hours and time spent practicing and rehearsing," said Oliver Rodriguez.
But as is the original sentiment echoed by Wells, the accolades awarded to the band members don't compare to the connections made on their road to success.
"These people really are family. By the end of the season, it's always hard to see them go," said Montesi.
"We all become a big family and we all grow together and I would say that's one of the best parts of marching band," said Myles.