Parenting band kids

Students who sign up in a competitive instrumental music program are sometimes surprised to learn how challenging this activity is. As parents, we want our kids to enjoy success in everything they do. And no matter which activity they pursue, we do everything within our means to help them. Fortunately for us, there is no shortage of ways we can help our students excel in instrumental music performance.

If you’re new to the Dixie Heights band family, this section dispels some popular band myths and talks about how to strengthen musical education not only for your child, but for your child’s bandmates too.

Garage full of band candy

Band myths

The mythos of American high school band culture has been with us for generations. While some of it reflects band life accurately, other stereotypes wildly distort the reality of band culture and make it difficult if not impossible to recognize priceless opportunities for personal and academic growth through instrumental music. So let’s look at (and do away with) three of the most popular misperceptions.

“Marching band is easy.”

In reality, marching band is everything but easy. Not every student is cut out for it. Playing an instrument (or spinning flags and weapons) while executing a complex visual drill requires speed, stamina, agility, balance, and a long list of mental proficiencies. And it requires knowing how to play the instrument, which isn’t something that can be learned overnight. But it’s also a lot of fun — so when kids outside of band see how much their band friends are enjoying themselves, many consider joining. Sadly, the time and effort commitments are too big for most.

“Band kids are awkward.”

If we’re being honest, all kids are awkward. At that age, you were awkward too.

But compared to others, band kids generally are just as well adjusted socially and emotionally as their non-band peers. The only notable difference (at least here at Dixie Heights) is that band kids learn basic leadership values and skills very early in their musical journey. Usually during the first week of band camp, rookies discover that a lot of other band kids are looking out for them. In the years ahead, students typically “pay it forward” and extend to newcomers the caring and kindness that they received when they were rookies.

“Band is for geeks.”

Band kids don’t have to be Chess grandmasters or Nobel laureates. Impressive academic performance isn’t a requirement for band. But it is worth noting that grades often improve through long-term instrumental music education. According to countless studies, band helps kids do significantly better in school. So yes, there is something to the “band geek” stereotype — but doing well academically is driven by instrumental music education, not the other way around.

Band parenting 101

So you’re blessed with one or more of your own band kids? Hopefully by now you know how lucky you are, and what an enormous responsibility you carry. To help you help your student get the most out of the Dixie Heights band experience, here are a few pointers.

  1. Connect with other band parents. It’s okay if you’re shy. So are many of your fellow band parents. There will be challenges along the way, and sooner or later you’ll encounter a situation where you and your child can benefit from another parent’s experience and empathy.
  2. Volunteer as often as you can. Some of us can find just a few hours per year to help out. Others put in several hours almost daily. There are no minimums or maximums; only you can determine how much service time is right for you and your family.
  3. Attend concerts and competitions. Band events are a big deal for our students. They’ve put in countless hours learning and perfecting a performance that will last mere minutes on the stage or the football field. Whenever possible, be there for them.
  4. Remind them to practice. How well they perform affects not just their competition scores and course grades; it also affects how much they enjoy the activity. Practice is arguably the most important homework assignment in music education. Help your band kids find the time and space to practice routinely.
  5. Applaud their efforts. Learning to perform a piece of music well enough to do it in public isn’t easy. Pay attention when your band kid practices, and show them your appreciation every time they improve. It takes patience, persistence and positivity from parents and students alike.

March forth!

When you’re ready to get involved as a DHHS Band Boosters volunteer, even just for a few hours, please ask our Director of Bands to introduce you to our Volunteer Coordinator.

If you have questions about Dixie Heights Bands, please contact Director Sarah Shamblin via the DHHS front office.