I’m a band kid.

Richard - Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Entered on December 27, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in the freshly cut green grass of a football stadium, the dust and dirt that passes as a practice field, the comradeship of hundreds of determined musicians, the smooth metal of my instrument on a cold November night, bus rides until four in the morning, and the soul-searching music that courses through my veins when I play my instrument.

All of us band kids are dorks. We crack band jokes that only other band kids would understand, we freak out when a key on our instrument is bent, and we spend more time with fellow band members than we probably do with our own families.

We love band.

I love band.

What is there not to love? I don’t know of one other “sport” in which teamwork could be more important, people more accepting, and where the results could be more satisfying. Band is for everyone.

Band teaches wonderful morals. Have you ever really heard of band kids being the “bad kids?” Not really. Band has taught me discipline. In the band room, the band director is God. The drum majors are God’s secondhand men/women. The section leaders become the underclassmen’s role models.

It has taught me patience. Five years after beginning to play clarinet, my sound is like that of the sweet chirp of a bird rather than the braying of a donkey. At the beginning of high school, when I began marching, I didn’t think I would ever be able to perform amazingly difficult marching maneuvers, while keeping good form, feet in time, and, oh yeah, playing my instrument. I had decided that it was impossible. Of course, band proved to me that it most definitely was not.

I have learned about what respect for yourself, for others, and for your instrument really means. In the band family, you need confidence to play out and be heard. It is imperative to respect your fellow members and learn their strengths, their weaknesses, and just what makes them tick. And one must never forget the sacred instrument: Thou must care for it like a child. I for one pour all of my love into my “baby,” making sure that she (yes, my instrument has a name) is in tip-top condition.

Most importantly, band has given me something to be passionate about. It has taught me to harbor creativity, to pour all of my being into making music. Band displays a different form of beauty than many are familiar with. The biggest compliment I could ever receive is to be called, “musical.”

Though I’m not going to force my kids to do band, it is not unlikely that you will see them out there someday on that band field, smothered with sunscreen and bug spray, just being part of the band. When I finish a show, playing that last triumphant note with sweat dripping down my back and the crowd roaring, I know where I belong. This I believe.