Hey Freshmen Band Parents…THIS Is What Your Kid Just Signed Up For

shelba waldronAdolescents, Coaching With Intent, Marching Band, Persepctives for Parents

To all the parents out there:

If I were to tell you that your kid was about to go on a journey of self exploration, that would take them through the inside of their soul and back, would you support it?

What if I told you that the values that were taught by you, would be reinforced by caring adults in a safe and controlled environment and in this environment, the values of integrity, honesty, responsibility, and restraint would be augmented with hard work and discipline? Four years of music education and competition, coupled with physical fitness and conditioning would give your child the life skills desperately needed in the work force. Skills such as conflict resolution, internal motivation, creativity, and sense of team would walk with them upon graduation and would dictate their life’s work as they faced the world on their own. Would you encourage it?

If you knew that your child would be held to the highest expectations by adult role models that pushed them to become more than they ever imagined, building a sense of self-worth and strength of character that would carry them through life, would you pay for the experience? What if your child was learning to be a leader that would one day lead our world into a better direction than it is today; you wouldn’t think twice would you?

If you knew your child was getting a fitness regime equivalent to a sports team and time away from the computer, smart phone, t.v., and video games wouldn’t you move Heaven and earth to make sure they participated with all your love and support? Of course you would and as a parent…so would I.

If you are lucky, your child has just joined the high school marching band and with any luck, that band program is going to prepare your child for life when other children are preparing to take a test. Our children today are inundated with a testing environment that has forced a reduction in the arts and physical education in most communities. We know that children are being exposed to more technology at earlier ages, which plays into the hands of the obesity epidemic and diminished peer to peer social skills. We live in a world where through the images of two dimensional machines, we have found ourselves desensitized to the world around us, taking its toll on an entire generation of children. If we look closely, we can see how fear has allowed a sense of community to erode, whether that fear is warranted or not.

What if we could, in our own little world, through our own little way, bring back just a small portion of what we had always envisioned for our children and what if this could be done by putting an instrument, drum stick, or flag pole in your child’s hand?

So how does marching band help? What exactly are they about to learn? Simple. Everything you have ever taught your child will lead to a moment of clarity and maturity for them as they are held to the highest standard of excellence. They will learn the following 10 lessons:

  • Personal responsibility by the simple mantra of “early is on time and on time is late.”
  • Concepts of how to follow in the face of leaders who may or may not always be right.
  • Leadership by being a part of the team as opposed to ruling over the team.
  • When everyone works hard, then everyone wins. When one person falls short of their responsibilities, then the entire team is damaged.
  • Sometimes hard work leads to failure anyway, but the journey is where the joy is really felt.
  • Hard work is just that…it’s hard. It’s not meant to be easy and it’s not for everyone. As Tom Hanks once said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
  • Not every thought we have was meant to be shared and not every opinion is welcomed. There are people in charge and it’s those people’s responsibility to stay focused on the big picture. Sometimes in life you are just a piece of that picture and you will not have all the information to make an informed decision.
  • There is no easy path to perfection and perfection is a game that can’t be won.
  • It’s o.k. to cry and ask for help.
  • Friendship is one of the most single important elements of life. It’s good friends that stand by our side in times of struggle and in times of joy. It’s good friends that hold the mirror to our face and say, “Here! This is who you are. You are beautiful and you are worthy.” Good friends will also tell us to get off our pity pot and get to work.
I want you to think about something. As adults we know that the “real world” only gets harder the older we get. I remember thinking how hard college was with my schedule all of a sudden being 100% my responsibility. Then I joined the work force and college just seemed like a damn joy ride through the countryside. In the work force I quickly learned that it was someone else’s business and I was under the auspices of their rules. In the workforce I had to learn how to negotiate my ideas at the right time and right moment. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut, because my opinion wasn’t always welcomed. Then, it only got harder. Life threw curves forcing me to navigate marriage and divorce. I learned there never seems to be enough money to get to payday and I have to make choices to spend or not to spend. When I thought that I had finally reached the point in life where I could sit back and take a deep breath and say, “Whew…that was hard. Now I can breathe.” Yeah no. It didn’t happen. Then came the kids and all of the struggles that come with raising your own version of yourself. Each stage in life brings different challenges and with all of those challenges, through every single one, I have always looked back on the lessons taught to me on a football field while holding a flag in my hand.
I have learned that in those moments of facing consequences for not knowing my part, that I was preparing for a cut throat workforce that expects deadlines to be met. When I had a solo part and did not achieve that solo to perfection, I learned the lessons of determination to go and try again. To get better. To never give up. Standing in the hot sun in the middle of August, when my body was tired and I was thirsty, I learned to look around me and realize that we were all in it together and that I was not special, but part of a much bigger plan that involved a team. These are the life lessons that make us better people. Arrogance, laziness, lack of preparation, single mindedness, and complaining will ultimately lead us to dead ends in life and it was in marching band, winter guard, and drum corps where I learned and tested the initial results of those lessons. In the end, it’s the memories and friendships of the field that I take with me when the sadness of life takes hold and that gets me through the rough times. However, it’s the hard fought lessons of youth, while standing on a football field holding a flag, that has allowed me time and time again to stand on my own with my head held high and say, “I can face another day.”


Shelba is a coaching and program consultant for youth programs and youth development expert. To contact her please email her at [email protected] or visit the services page at  http://forwardyouthconsulting.com/services/