|It's an audacious title, we know, but owner/manager Aaron Brown has some thoughts for the first-time band/orchestra/guitar class parent on why you shouldn't be concerned about the class your child has just signed up for; in fact, you should embrace it.|
August is back upon us, and for us, that means school music. It’s going to be a madhouse. We do a lot of sales for school band, orchestra, & guitar. We really believe in school music around here – in fact, it’s one of the main reasons for our existence. My musical history starts with a sixth grade band class and a snare drum. From that humble beginning spawned a journey that’s taken me to big stadiums, outdoor stages in front of 2,000+ people, the venerable 40 Watt club in Athens, and all the way to owning a music store. It’s really been an amazing trip, and it all started with that one snare drum.
One thing I can say with certainty: if I had quit playing during middle school, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. And we hear that concern from parents literally hundreds of times during school band season: “I don’t really want to spend any money on this; my kid is just going to quit.” As a parent myself, I can understand that fear. That’s why I want to encourage you, and give you some hope for your child’s musical journey. I mean, I could tell you all about the fact that we get back maybe 1 in 20 instruments we rent or sell at the end of the year because a student quit, but something tells me that’ll just sound like a sales pitch. So let me tell you a little about my history with music and why your student won’t be so quick to abandon playing.
They’ll have an experience. Through her first soccer season I watched my daughter point at planes, chase cool bugs, and pick up pretty rocks, all during active play. She would do literally anything but play soccer. But the kicker (ha) was, she wanted to do it again the next season. She loved the coach, she loved being around other kids, she loved Capri Sun & orange slices, and that was enough for her. She had an experience that she enjoyed, and she wanted to go back. It’s the same with school music. You get a seat next to some other kids who share an interest (the instrument you’re learning), and you become a small gang, a squad within a platoon. High school marching band, drumline – that was my gang, and you couldn’t convince me otherwise. We went on trips, we had fun, we learned how to work as a team and achieve a goal. We had a unifying experience, and we came out better for it.
They’ll gain confidence & a good self-image. Let’s build on that group theme a little. As I went from 8th to 9th grade, a quirk of redistricting meant I was going to a different high school than 80% of my classmates. I would have to navigate an entirely new social order, all alone, and I was terrified. A month before school started, I arrived at band camp, and within 3 hours, I had new instrument, new nickname, and a new squad: the bass drum line. I don’t think I can put in to words how much that experience helped me find my place in a brand new world. If I didn’t have the head start the band program afforded me, I don’t know how that first day of high school would’ve played out. Instead of going in unprepared, I had a crew I could take refuge in, and a whole bunch people that knew my (nick)name. I was no longer alone. I was a drummer.
This is your chance to help, and you’ve got backup. I know, your kid has probably tried a half-dozen other activities, and left a trail of used accessories in their wake. It’s certainly tempting to think this won’t be any different. But school music has a few things going for it that make it as “quit-proof” as any activity can be. First, it’s school - your student has to go. They get a grade. Music becomes homework, but more fun. Also, they can get together with friends outside of school to write & perform music of their own, which strengthens their bond with their group & their instrument. Many of my first “rock band” experiences were with other kids I had met in band class. This all means you have a chance to encourage actual learning disguised as fun. And I could quote the dozens of studies that prove music makes kids smarter, better at math, better at teamwork, etc., but that’s another post entirely. As I said, we will hear literally hundreds of versions of, “my kid is just gonna quit” over the next 8 weeks, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You can trust me on that – I’m a drummer. And a guitarist. And a ukulele-ist. And...