An Open Letter From a Parent

 

Like virtually every parent of a student entering middle school, I was confronted with feelings of enthusiasm, concern, and abject fear.You lose control of the kids in middle school.You want them to “find” themselves and become good students, citizens, and people.But middle school has little use for parents, and any influence on our kids’ performance was going to be from a distance.

My daughters both found music.Or maybe it found them. They had both played piano for a few years, but the passion for music, and the desire to excel, didn’t come until middle school.They both gravitated to the flute, and by the time they finished middle school they were among the best flute players in their grade levels.And there were some other changes, in their grades, in their confidence, in their study and personal habits, and in their relationship with others, that I attribute to their love for music and the flute.

I became a “band dad” when my oldest daughter entered high school.I spent quite a bit of time during the next six years helping the high school band get ready for marching band performances and concerts, raising funds, preparing meals and snacks, chaperoning the kids, and doing countless other jobs that needed to be done.I was one parent of many who performed this labor of love for the high school band program.

I witnessed firsthand the impact that participation in the band program had on kids.Virtually every kid.There was a discipline that didn’t seem to exist in most other kids.Grades were better – in a study that I was allowed to do by the school, I found that between 10% and 15% more band kids made the honor roll every semester than kids in the general population.Band kids seemed to treat each other, and adults, with more respect than did kids in the general population.

Playing an instrument has provided them both with opportunities they would not otherwise have experienced in a lifetime.During the high school and college years, their bands toured and played in New York, California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, London, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, France, and Italy.

Playing a musical instrument can be challenging and frustrating.Finding time and motivation to practice can at times be difficult.But almost every kid who picked up an instrument, and who made a good attempt at developing some skill, is a more rounded and accomplished person for doing it.

Parents, hang on! It’s a fun ride!

Tom Haller
Opening Notes
Littleton Community Music Association