Battle of the (school) band

We recently hit a new parenting milestone, but it had nothing to do with the first time our children ate a new food, slept through the night or used the potty.

It was the first time we forced one of our children into a particular after-school activity.

Normally, the kids’ extracurriculars haven’t been an issue. They’ve decided they wanted to do something and they’ve stuck to it for the full session, whether it was a term or a year. After that, they’ve either decided to enroll again or decided they were ready to try something new.

Between the two of them, they’ve tried and enjoyed lots of different activities, like gymnastics, soccer, T-ball, swimming, taekwondo, dance, cheerleading, Beavers, band and hiking club. My husband and I have always liked that they try new things, and as long as they fulfill their commitment for the set length of time – no quitting – then we’ve been happy.

This past year, our son has been enrolled in the school’s beginner band program. He plays percussion and loves it. His music teachers have always says he has a “talent” for music, something that’s shocked and delighted me, as neither my husband nor I have any sort of music talent whatsoever.

The big end-of-year concert rolled around, and he was awesome. He moved swiftly between the snare drum, bass drum, symbol and bells, and professionally packed up the gear at the end, returning each piece carefully into its spot in the music room.

I was filled with visions of him being a drummer in a cool garage band in high school. Lots of teens play the guitar, but they’re always looking for drummers. It felt so right. He’s even growing his hair long, in the cutest floppy style!

But when it was time to sign up for junior band, he said he wasn’t doing band in Grade 4.

UM, WHAT???

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

2 Comments on “Battle of the (school) band

  1. As a private music teacher, and my studio being my sole source of income, I REALLY appreciate this article and perspective from a parent. I am constantly advocating the value of music education for its’ developmental benefits to a child’s brain, and that it teaches children to stick with things that are hard, and achieve them. This is not just an important life skill to learn for doing things you don’t want to do, but when a child struggles and achieves, it does multitudes for their self-esteem.

    I ask for a commitment for the full school year, not just to make my income stable, but to ask students to really give it a try and work through problems before they choose to quit. This is often a scary proposition for parents and adult students for the sole reason of “what if my child or I don’t like music lessons and want to quit in a X amount of time”.

    I do a thorough interview with each student and their parents, including a free trial lesson before signing them up. If either of us don’t think it’s a match at that point, no problem, although that’s never happened. If a child or adult wants to take music lessons enough, they usually have some ability already, and so the motivation is there. If there is a problem, it usually stems from a lack of practice. This can be for many different reasons, which I try to address as much as possible. When it comes down to it, the parents’ involvement makes all the difference.

    I have heard many parents talk about how children’s interests change, and they go from one activity to another, as if this should just be expected and accepted. I am not a parent, and don’t claim to be a parenting expert, but I think the point you make here is the same thing I’ve been trying to convey for years.

    And what about school? You wouldn’t just let your child quit school because they don’t like it. Music is just as important than school studies, and actually helps with brain development. There are countless studies that prove that children do much better in other subjects when they have music education. If I had it my way, every child would learn music (in or out of public school). Further to my point, there are many adults out there who wish their parents didn’t let them drop out of music lessons, or another activity as a child, for whatever reason. I try to convey these messages to my adult students and parents of students in a respectful way, without undermining their parenting choices. This article hits the nail on the head in such a positive way, and gives me some confidence and ideas about how I can show the value of sticking with lessons for at least one school year. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Adrianne! I’m so pleased you liked the article. It must be so frustrating when parents are willing to just yank their child out of music lessons because they “seem to be bored with it” or “their interests changed.”

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