Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Band Camp

Now that LC#2 is back from Whale Camp and the laundry is done, LC#1 has started Band Camp. She is in our local high school marching band and every year they have a week of all day practice of the music and drills it takes to put on their field show and their music in the stands. Nine hour days, marching on the parking lot. Which brings up my gripe. Why is there no willingness to allow the kids on any field to practice, after all, they will play on the field. And it is a little cooler, and easier on the feet? But no field can be spared even if it is not being used this week- they must be saved for the athletes. GRR.
After this week they will have three hour practices twice a week until school starts. We have the largest band in the county-200 kids-and ( if I do say so myself) , one of the best sounding. Both the directors are Lutherans. In a time when many schools have gone to a competition band by audition, we have not. Our band is open to anyone. And because of this, many kids who come to high school have a place to land and make friends who might otherwise struggle. And school violence is down in the same proportion as the band has grown. Hmm..could be on to something. IN a day and age where many people complain about what is wrong with "kids today" at least in our town, this is one thing that is right with "kids today."
Now of course I am waxing fondly not just because my daughter is in this program, but I also was in a marching band in school. We performed at all of the football games, but we also were in lots of parades, we played a halftime show at a Pittsburgh Steelers game, and we took an annual band trip in competition. And we had such a heavy schedule of practice and performance, marching band was a sport in which you could letter.
Like athletics, it teaches teamwork, pride and responsibility and trying to do your best. But it also teaches creativity, and learning that carries over into academics. In fact studies show that kids in music programs perform better in school and have fewer discipline problems. This past year, in a flurry of budget cutting and slavish devotion to state test scores, our school district was going to make band a purely extracurricular thing. No class time, no sectionals during the day, you pay to participate. Because we need the space for other classes not a band room. Becaue we need the class time to teach to No Child Left Behind. Because, because, because, because. But then they realized how much good attention our band brings to the district. How it would be hard to justify athletes leaving early for away games, but band students cannot have class time. So after a lot of stress, the program survives. The tradeoff is that the kids must get out and perform across the region to "showcase" the school district. But that is a good thing. Getting off my soapbox now.
LC#1 has made good friends, some of whom now come to our church Youth group events. Some things are timeless. Percussion never listens, tubas are always troublemakers, there are always a couple trumpets who are divas and try to squeeze out high notes they really can't hit. And she too will have great memories of nailing a performance, crazy antics and the water battle on the last day of band camp ( it helps to have a really big cooler for maximum drenching.)


Diane said...

I'm with you on music being essential

David said...

It is good that oyu school takes music so seriously. In these days of budget cuts and over crowded schools, it seems that it is always the arts that suffer.