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What being a band parent has meant to me
Written by a father of 3 band students
Eleven consecutive years as a band parent
Caution – reading this will not change your life – Being a band parent will!
Going to high school can be a time full of uncertainty and tension for new freshman students. However, when they are in the band they develop friendships during summer practices and at band camp. By the time school starts, a sense of belonging has already emerged. Your student has a community they can draw support from during the first anxiety filled days of school. This is the first of many benefits your child will receive from being in the band.
Being a band parent gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your children and their friends. Your student may act like you’re not there and request that you don’t ride their bus, but if you could see through the stewing cauldron of unlimited energy and boiling hormones, you would know that they are glad that you are. It says to them, “Hey my parents think enough of me to give up their Friday night or Saturday to ride a school bus full of teenagers… that’s really cool! (But don’t expect them to express it in exactly those words.) It will sound more like, ‘your going on the trip’? Well okay, just don’t be hugging me in front of the guys!”
Being a band parent means that your children will be challenged more and learn the meaning of teamwork, individual responsibility, hard work and self-discipline. They will learn skills that will enhance every aspect of their adult life from job performance to personal relationships.
Being a band parent means that you will develop some great friendships that will stand the test of time. When you and another parent have pulled a big super-sized xylophone through torrential rain, sleet and mud and then ride 6 hours on a cold school bus in wet clothes and shoes that squirt water with the slightest bit of pressure, it has a tendency to draw you closer together. It’s a bonding experience similar to surviving 31 days on a desert island. You all leave saying, “if we can survive that we can do anything.”
Personally, it also helps you to develop new skills that you will be able to use for the rest of your life:
Organizational skills – How many pizzas and boxes of bananas do you order for 160 band students?
Creative skills – How do you get teenagers to eat 5 boxes of left over bananas?
Communication skills – Before a competition you spend a good part of your Saturday asking, “Do you have your black socks? How could you lose a tuba? When did you last see your pants?”
Give of Yourself – After you have seen how much the band program helps these young adults, you will be willing to make great sacrifices for them. Some band parents have been known to take off their black socks and swap with a student who thought dark purple would do. Of course, the true sacrifice comes when you wear those purple socks for the rest of day!
You will also learn a lot about riding (living on) a bus. Here are some rules/suggestions that will help you survive… uh, I mean… enjoy those bus rides.
1. Sleep – There are 37 different positions you can get into in a travel coach. Sleep is impossible in all 37. Sleeping on a school bus requires a prescription drug.
2. Chaperones – Never have a separate bus of just chaperones. You need children on the bus so the chaperones won’t act like children.
3. Talk to sleepy bus drivers, sing if necessary. If this doesn’t work – put the drummers in the first two rows!
4. Bring plenty of water – Don’t drink it until just before you get to a rest stop.
5. Take inventory after every stop. Parents hate it when their child is the only one that doesn’t come home. (We left one in a cemetery in New Orleans once, but he was a very fast runner and we couldn’t get away.)
6. Always bring rain gear so when it starts raining you can say, “Yep, mine is on the bus too!”
7. When the kids are performing, yell your lungs out! – It makes them perform better and reduces your tension for the bus ride home.
8. Talk to the kids; ask them questions, you will be amazed at what you will learn. A 10- minute conversation with them will make you a year or two younger.
9. Tell the students on your bus that you have a heart condition that acts up when you watch Adam Sandler videos.
Being a band parent is a great experience. You and your child will develop friendships that will last a lifetime. You will grow as individuals through the variety of challenging experiences. Enjoy every minute of it because it will soon be over and you will wander around on Friday nights and Saturdays without an excuse to avoid cleaning your garage.