Want your child to make it through the high school years and come out someone you can be proud of? My advice: push them toward marching band.
My oldest child is in his senior year of high school and last Friday performed his final half-time show with the marching band. I couldn’t help but watch with pride swelling in my heart and tears in my eyes. I wasn’t just crying over the realization that he would be moving on next year, heading to college and whatever else he decides to pursue in life. I was shedding tears over what this band program has done for my son in the last four years.
I was never a band member. I couldn’t read a sheet of music if my life depended on it. I grew up in a family of football players and cheered my heart out from the stands. My son tried football. He gave it a season. It wasn’t his thing. Not that he wasn’t good at it, but he just didn’t enjoy it. When he told me he was signing up for marching band I figured that would last one season, too. But it was an entirely different experience for him. He loved it. He was good at it. And it became his passion.
I have to admit it took a bit of accepting for me. Most of my friends were football moms. They sat in an entirely different section of the stadium. And they didn’t say it, but I knew they didn’t always think highly of the band. But as the first season went on, I heard more and more from those football moms that the band sure did seem to practice a lot. The band would often still be out there playing, perfecting their movements along with their music, when the team was already heading home for the day. The band spent entire Saturdays, 9am until 9pm, getting things right. Exactly right. People noticed. And they were impressed.
It wasn’t just about music, either. My son found a family among his friends in band. When other parents stressed over how that first year of high school would go, I knew my son had more than a hundred instant friends looking out for him. The bond was deep. The band director was like a favorite uncle, though he commanded respect at every moment, and he got it. He took a personal interest in my son’s success, as well as the dozens of other students making their way through the program. It didn’t surprise me at all to see this special man stand proudly with every single senior band member as they were introduced with their parents at the game last night. He has been another parent to these young adults. And he’s done an amazing job with each one of them.
My son will be heading off to college next year to become a music therapist. He found his passion in music in the marching band, and it will become his future. This is not a path I could have taken him down. He found his specialty on his own. And he is as prepared as possible, thanks to his time spent with his second family, his high school marching band. I am proud of him and so thankful to his band family.