“Mom! Hurry up! I’m going to be late!” yells my daughter from the bottom of the stairs. Do I really have to? I sigh. It’s dark, rainy, and well before 7:00 am.
I haven’t even eaten breakfast yet! This is so painfully hard for me!
Yet, I pull on a pair of shoes, grab the car keys, and head out the door. Yes, I do this. I even do it with a smile.
My daughter doesn’t complain; she’s eager and she is going to a place where she belongs. She’s going to band class.
Not Your Average Class
The walls of the secondary band room hold something special. I speak from experience. Our son, who graduated last year, went through four years of band in secondary and now our daughter, in grade 11, is in her third year of band.
Band is an elective secondary course and is not just one semester. This course runs for the entire year. This is a big commitment for these students. They meet for 7:00 am practices twice a week from September to January plus jazz club practice on Fridays. In the second semester, they have regular scheduled class time plus several music festivals, concert days and a week-long band tour.
Every student in band, from different grades feels part of the team with the variety of instruments mixed in with the variety of students who were put together. Bill Workman has a gift of creating community when each and every student joins band.
I asked my daughter what the secret is. She actually couldn’t tell me. She said maybe it’s because, in band you don’t just sit with your classmates, you sit with those who are in your section, whether it’s brass, woodwinds, or percussion. It doesn’t matter how dark and dreary the mornings are or the routine of weekly practice logs, these students crave the environment that they can be part of three times a week, all year long.
Peach Candies and Mickey Mouse
Of course, the highlight for every band student is the trip to Disneyland. It only happens once for a secondary band student. But trips to Edmonton, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan prove to be special moments in the lives of these students. It’s being on a first name basis with the bus driver; the senior students sitting with the grade 9s. It’s sharing peach candies and songs on Spotify, bonding while unloading the truck and setting up for each concert. Maybe it’s even sleeping in a school gym together.
My kids have adopted the popular cliché with a smile, “Whatever happens on band tour, stays on band tour.” Something special must be going on when the students are talking about band tour in September; band tour doesn’t happen until April.
And so, this morning, I get up early, get past my own comforts, and join the dedicated crew of parents who arrive to an empty school parking lot in the dark to bring our band student to be part of a community they call their own.