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Invitation to Join Band - Now What?

My child just came home with an invitation to join the school band.  What is this all about and why should we accept that invitation?

Your child had just received an invitation to join the school band, or a choice form to decide which music class he/she will participate in for the upcoming school year.  He/she is very excited about it and is bugging you to death.  You may have already decided to enroll your child in band because you were in band as a child, or your older son or daughter is still in band in middle or high school because you have been through this and pretty much know what to expect.  But, what if you are the parent that never was in school band and feels like your child (maybe just like you) doesn’t have a musical bone anywhere in the body? Well, everybody has at least one musical bone somewhere in the bodyJ and band gives your child the opportunity to develop that musical ability to spread to the rest of the mind and body.  Sometimes talent is hidden, waiting to be discovered.  Through hard work and consistent practice, your child will learn not only valuable musical skills and concepts, but will also develop self-discipline, tenacity and group interaction skills.  The development of these and many other life skills are what make band such a unique and rewarding experience.  The school band will also give your child a peer group that is unique in that many of his/her friends will stay together through middle and high school.  This will make it easier for your child to adjust to the changes of middle and high school when the time comes.

But, you may be wondering if your child should already at least know something about music or playing a band instrument before being able to join the band, right?  Wrong. The beginning band teacher will assume that all children starting band have no musical knowledge at all.  Even though most children have experienced general music in school, your director will start from the very beginning so that all skills can be developed no matter what place your child is in regards to musical knowledge. Your director will also start from the very beginning and teach your child how to open the instrument case, assemble the instrument properly and take care of the instrument so that it will last and remain in top playing condition. So, your child can participate in the band program even if he/she has never seen a band instrument and has not had the first music lesson.

OK.  Now you are convinced that band is a good idea and would like your child to participate.  What do you do?  Your band director will guide you step-by-step through the process of enrolling in band.  Once your child accepts the invitation to join band, the director will provide additional information about how your child selects the instrument he/she is going to play while using expertise to guide your child to the best decision possible from the outset.  Please wait for the band director to make an instrument recommendation before acquiring an instrument from a music store or other source.  There is no real advantage to “getting a head start” since all of the students in your child’s class will be starting from the very beginning.

This all sounds reasonable to you and you would like for your child to enroll.  However, you still have some reservations. You may be thinking: “My child has never stuck to anything for any length of time.  However, with today’s instrument rental plans, you can find out if your child is going to stick with this or not without great expense.  Many music stores have a three-month introductory rental price that is next to nothing in cost.  If you project the total cost with the introductory period, it comes out to about $20 - $25 per month for the school year for most instruments. Even though the introductory rental rate is quite inexpensive, it is recommended that your child make a commitment of one year to really give a reasonable chance to know whether or not band will work out for your child.  Rental rates are still good, even after the introductory period.  Most instruments can be rented for around $30 per month (saxophones are more expensive.  Since most of the time this is an in-school activity with a few minutes of practice every night, a year commitment is certainly doable – even if you child sometimes has trouble “sticking with things”.

The benefits of joining band far outweigh initial concerns.  The self discipline, group interaction skills, personal responsibility in a group setting, physical activity and development of higher learning skills are only some of the benefits of studying a band instrument, and there is also learning the joy of making music!