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Why should I continue with band? - Some thoughts by Doc

posted Jan 26, 2016, 12:58 PM by Athens Drive High School Band   [ updated Jan 26, 2016, 12:58 PM ]
Schedule sign-ups for next year are right around the corner!  We have been exceptionally fortunate at Athens Drive to build and maintain one of the finest instrumental music programs in the nation!  This is due in large part to the commitment that the students and families have made throughout their 4 years at our school.  In order for us to continue strengthening our fine program, such consistency must be maintained despite continued "pressures" from various sources.  

I offer the summary (below & attached) of what I have observed over the past 30 years.  As someone on the "front lines," I am privileged to be in touch on a daily basis with the finest high school students in the world!  Perhaps some of these observations/facts will help give you peace of mind as you encourage your son/daughter to continue with BAND!

Thanks for reading!

Why should I continue with band?

Quite honestly, it’s a question that continues to be discussed in many households and among the students and myself.  Having lived with this question for the past 30 years, I offer the following facts for your consideration:

1. I have NEVER, EVER known a student who regretted taking band all 4 years.  Quite to the contrary, most students admit (after having a few years of college under their belt) that it was the best experience that they had in high school and were not “behind” in their college studies in any way.

2. Although students can continue to play in college, only 60-75% actually do… and then less than 20% continue to play as a young adult.   In other words, it’s a bit like “Toyland:” Once you grow up, the magic of the “high school band” largely disappears.  (However, the memories, the life lessons, and the improved character/personality/sense of self-esteem/work ethic/attention to detail/perfectionism stay with you forever!)  Why grow up so fast?  You will be working for the rest of your life!  Enjoy your high school years because once they’re gone, they’re gone!

3. High school students experience a very significant change in their life, both physically and mentally.  The change includes the way that they perceive themselves and others, the way they form and develop relationships, the way in which they develop leadership skills among their peers - to name just a few.  To deal with this change, every student needs a “center” in their school environment. High School can be a very intimidating, cold, impersonal experience, Band is a safe family of students who share a great deal in common.  The students discuss their common experiences making music, mastering an instrument, and dealing with all the social factors involved with growing up.

4. In addition to a strong GPA and a challenging courseload, colleges look for other important indicators of a well-rounded, healthy individual:  service to the community, loyalty and longevity in an activity, teamwork skills, and leadership.  Band is the perfect vehicle for learning/experiencing all of these important traits.  No wonder musicians are the top candidates for select programs such as medical school.

5. The daily experience of MUSIC stimulates much of our being - emotionally, physically, and cognitively.  It literally makes us feel more alive!  You must be active to create music - never passive.  Too many highs school students are passive about classes, take little or no risks, and are generally “hum-drum” at best in temperament.  Band students are the most upbeat, positive, and proactive students in the school.

6. The act of REHEARSING and PERFORMING enriches the human experience in the following ways:  through the interaction between director/student and student/student, through the act of taking something apart and putting it back together, through the thrill of performance, and through the exploration of how music relates to LIFE… and it really, really does!  LIFE LESSONS are a part of EVERY MUSIC REHEARSAL!

7. By learning to play a musical instrument - i.e. to master a “fine art” - a student must learn a complex motor skill, must problem solve, and must set goals.  Furthermore, the student must exercise discipline  (the repetition, the consistent approach, the regularity of practice).  In and of itself, this is rewarding…however, the best news is that all of these lessons TRANSFER to a great deal of other tasks that the students will deal with later in their life. I’m in my 50’s and I am still guided by the lessons I learned in band.

8. The bottom line is that band students - especially the ones who attend Athens Drive High School - tend to be healthy and happy.  And healthy and happy students will learn more efficiently, they will make their environment a better place to live, and they will uplift the lives of others.  …And isn’t that what we really want for our kids?