Hats Off To Band Parents

Remember my Guest Post week? Last week? Yeah, so there was an incident where a post got lost. I told all the posts to stay close to me and to work on the buddy system, but things happen, and they did happen.

Sadly, it happened to the post written by Debbie. Like me, she is a proud Band Parent…

Oma and I belong to a very special group. Kind of like a fraternity, but without the Greek letters or fancy handshake.

It’s called Band Parents.

I don’t know about Oma, but I was a Band Kid before I became a Band Parent. Many of us were. We loved Band so much that we couldn’t wait to introduce our kids to it.

English: The University of Notre Dame Marching...

The University of Notre Dame Marching Band (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my town, Band starts in the spring of a kid’s fourth grade in school, when the elementary Band Director administers a test to gauge interest and aptitude. The director introduces the kids and their parents to the various instruments and recommends which ones the kid would be best suited to play.

The following year the kids sign up for Band. They’re responsible for daily practice on their chosen instrument, as well as a Winter and Spring concert. No marching. No fundraising.

Piece of cake.

My son (AKA My Favorite Domer, or simply Domer) had to play percussion. The pounding of drums, the crashing of cymbals. Neighbors could hear him three houses away in any direction!

As sixth grade rolled around, some of the kids quit Band in favor of sports or other activities. Not Domer. He had to have a trap set. And lessons.

By high school — when even more kids quit Band — Domer had tired of beating on drums. He switched to trumpet, much to the Band Director’s dismay. The other kids had had four years of practice; Domer was beginning all over again.

But he was determined and worked twice as hard. By his senior year, he was named section leader!

I pity the kids who quit Band. They miss out on so much camaraderie. But I understand their fear of the time commitment — Marching Band competitions every weekend. Full Band plus solo and ensemble contests every spring. Extra practices weekday evenings. Fundraising.

Through it all, Band Parents are the unsung heroes. They chaperone kids to and from events and practices, march alongside them (with water bottles to counteract the heat), and buy more than their fair share of candy, candles, wrapping paper, light bulbs, and other things they don’t want or need.

They’re there from the start, wincing as squawks become tones, noise becomes rhythm, and halting notes become recognizable songs. They clap until their hands hurt, fret outside the doors to contest rooms, and pray before auditions. They part with money and free time, all to help the kids.

Then the day comes when their “child,” newly accepted at the university of his choice, announces he wants to try out for the Band. To march on national TV during football games. To travel across the country (and abroad) representing his school.

A Band Parent starts worrying and praying all over again. Will he be good enough?

But when the kid calls to announce he’s made it — been accepted to the Band — well, that’s when a Band Parent knows it’s all been worthwhile!


Note: Debbie’s son Domer is a senior trumpet player at the University of Notre Dame. She blogs at and is grateful to her friend Oma for the chance to do a guest blog.


37 Comments on “Hats Off To Band Parents”

  1. xacrest says:

    I love this! I wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I am, without my parents’ support for my love of music. They stuck with me while I messed about for 10 seemingly pointless years on the piano, then kept very calm when I suggested that I might want to do this for the rest of my life and supported my choice. It only makes sense that there are parents all over the world who are supporting their kids’ dreams, no matter how noisy they start out or how much effort it takes. Much respect to all of you!

    • Debbie says:

      Exactly! My folks did this for me, and I was just paying it back. It’s nice to hear from others grateful for all those times their folks “made” them practice!

  2. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but when I was a teacher, I had a particular fondness for band kids and their parents. As clearly evidenced here, they’re good people. Nice post, Debbie!

    • Debbie says:

      In our school system, it’s the Band kids who do Everything — sports, academics, extracurricular activities, etc. It’s also the Band kids who DON’T get into trouble. Must be all the discipline of practicing. Being in a uniform doesn’t hurt, either!

  3. We Found Him Captain! says:

    A fine tribute to the parents and young musicians both. Nice work!

  4. […] I’m over at my friend Oma’s Blurt blog, doing a guest […]

  5. 40 is the new 13 says:

    Hooray… I’m a band parent of an 8th grade percussionist. We attend two concerts a year, provide tuxedo shirts, listen to lots of practice, and hold cameras steady and aloft until our arms go numb. But you’ve made me want to continue doing this for the next eight years!

    Many thanks for the tribute post. You’re proof that Band Parents (and kids) rock!

    • Debbie says:

      Ah, thank YOU — for nurturing the next generation of Band kids! There’s nothing quite like watching them “perform” and grow into responsible young adults!

  6. suzicate says:

    I always envied the band clique as a student and a parent. You’re a great mom…My son wanted to play drums, but I feared my migraines and sanity couldn’t take it. I talked him into the viola which didn’t last long, and then the guitar. Can you tell I wasn’t a band student? Neither was my hubby, and sadly, our children did not inherit musical talent from either side of their DNA. At least, we passed on a few other good traits that hopefully make up for the lack of musical talent.

    • Debbie says:

      You know, Suzi, there’s just no way to mute drums! You can stick the kid down in the basement, but the thumps resound throughout the house — and I’m speaking from experience! That said, the squeeks that emanated from my clarinet were not sweet music to my parents’ ears, I’m sure, but they put up with it (and I landed a Band Scholarship to college). Being 500 miles from home and not knowing a soul was more bearable because I was in that “Band Clique”!!

  7. omawarisan says:

    Thanks, Debbie, for helping out and for a great post.

    My son plays trombone, picked up tuba/sousaphone in HS and was section leader in his senior year too.

    Band does so much for kids as they come up. In addition to all the academic benefits, it gives a really smooth transition from middle to high school and then up to college. That first trombone is still the best money I ever spent.

    • Debbie says:

      I know just what you mean, my friend! Domer’s trapset is history, but we sold it back and paid for the trumpet — a much smoother transition than anyone would have expected. I can still see his high school Band Director’s face, though, when I told him what had happened (Domer was percussion section leader in middle school, and I think the poor guy had high hopes for his rhythm section!)

  8. Debbie, The camaraderie you speak of jumps off the page. Hats off to band members and their parents! Great post.

  9. Barb - The Empty Nest Mom says:

    Parents are so often the unsung heroes. Those behind the scenes. My boys weren’t musical but they played varsity sports – basketball and football and lacrosse. Oh my – it’s all I knew for years and years, because, of course as you would know….before they get to a varsity level – there have been years and years of gold crown and city leagues and junior high and summer camps.

    So, I have to ask, between the drums and then the trumpet… were your neighbors kind of happy to see him go away to college???? Just a little?

    • Debbie says:

      Hahaha! Barb, you make me laugh! Yes, I suppose some of them were just a teensy bit glad to see him leave for college — and they’re the very ones who constantly ask me how he’s doing, what he’s doing, etc.! Parents of athletes, too, share a very common and tight bond — they’re at every practice, praying no one gets hurt but comforted in the knowledge they’ve got a First Aid kit tucked in the glove compartment.

  10. We have missed band so far. Oldest is a sophomore, and I refused to spend money on an instrument that she had no real interest in playing. Now all of her friends are in band, and she feels like she is missing out. The two boys are coming up behind, and the Padawan wants to play drums. But American Pie totally ruined band for me. I have only to hear the words “This one summer, at band camp…” and I lock the doors and hide the kids in the basement.

    • Debbie says:

      It really wasn’t that bad! Still, I can appreciate your dilemma. Drum-players are a breed unto themselves, always tapping on something (often, it was ME! or the dashboard in the car), always whistling cadences. Trumpet is better. Far better. But you’ve got to get past the early days (months? years?) when it sounds pretty awful. And when their friends are all in the Band, well, that makes it harder for parents not to cave in.

  11. Let me just put down my Starbucks pumpkin latte so I can aplaude your guest post, and the parents and marchers in High School bands. I have always felt H.S. Bands should be the half time entrainment at the Super Bowl. I have not been a band parent but I have bought an abundance of candy and wrapping paper and could not be happier to offer my support. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Debbie says:

      Kb, thank YOU for supporting H.S. Band efforts at fundraising! Mercy, when I remember all the “stuff” Domer had to peddle — from candles and candy to fresh fruit and tickets — I’m amazed we survived it! One doesn’t have to be a Band parent to understand how important the Band program is — even if the network sports guys refuse to show halftime in favor of their talking heads, ha!

  12. As a band parent (and proud member of the pit crew), I’m so glad that this post wasn’t lost for very long! The teamwork necessary for band members and band parents is a valuable and lasting lesson learned. Also, here’s to Band Directors, who give so much of their time and themselves!

    • Debbie says:

      The pit crew does LOTS of extra work — good for you, for volunteering (or being drafted!). We Band parents got so close because we were together so much. Kind of sad to see that fall by the wayside when our kids graduated high school (though now, I have a new group of Band parents to bond with!).

  13. Linda Sand says:

    Our daughter chose orchestra over band. I was thrilled when she chose string bass as her instrument. So much easier to listen to wrong notes than those of the violin. I was even more thrilled when he instructor found a second bass so she could have one at home and one at school so we didn’t have to transport as often. We did take the bass with us when shopping for a new car, though, since the bass would have to fit in whatever we bought.

    • Debbie says:

      How forward-thinking you are, to measure new car possibilities with your daughter’s bass! We didn’t have the option of orchestra here, so no strings. Fortunately, trumpet works in either, though my son way prefers marching — loves being active, loves the atmosphere of football games, loves being on TV, haha!

  14. jannatwrites says:

    Great post, Debbie! It stirred up old memories, as well as thoughts of what my next ten years or so will be like with my kids.

    I nodded my head in agreement through the entire thing. For me, band was a little different – the small town I lived in had Orchestra in fifth grade, but ‘real’ band didn’t come up until 7th grade. I jumped in and loved it. We had concerts and 3 parades a year. When we moved to a big city when I was high school, that’s when the ‘fun’ began 🙂

    Now, my older son is in fifth grade. He came home with the aptitude sheet last year, with an odd mix of instruments: clarinet, baritone and trumpet. He chose clarinet (my instrument – yay!) I can so relate to the squeaks and squawks. It’s been a month and it still sounds like a pained goose, but I know he’ll get the hang of it. I hope he keeps playing an instrument. I want him to experience the thrill of marching on the field at half time, the nervousness of traveling out of town for marching band competitions and I want him to embrace music as an art form and creative outlet. I quit my senior year of high school and never played in college. I’ll be curious to see if he continues.

    • Debbie says:

      Janna, I’m glad my post resonated with you. Your son’s experience takes me back just a few short years to when Domer was starting out in Band. If I can offer any words of wisdom, it’s Be Patient, and Hang in There! Domer wanted to quit in eighth grade, I think, but his dad and I talked him into sticking it out (that’s also when I encouraged him to switch to trumpet). It was a new challenge, and “mastering” it was the best for his self-esteem. Now, at the college level, is when the real FUN occurs — traveling across the country, playing at halftime, being part of something bigger than he is, representing his university. Your fun is just beginning, and I’m glad your son chose clarinet (that was my principal instrument, too!)

  15. I think Band Parents would make a good premise for a movie starring, let’s say, Will Farrel and Helen Hunt as, well, band parents who follow their kids to games and then somehow chaos ensues, because of the parents. Yet somehow, these very same parents end up, with the help of their kids, saving the day. I can see it now… 🙂

    • Debbie says:

      Monica, have you ever thought of switching careers and becoming a director?? I don’t know if your premise would sell many tickets, but I think it would be entertaining and amusing — especially to those of us who’ve lived it!

  16. Dawn says:

    Couldn’t have made it through high school with band. Missed it in college. Play again now in a community band. Wish every kid could play an instrument!! So we were both clapping till our hands hurt this weekend!

    • Debbie says:

      I knew you’d empathize, Dawn! Thanks for reading and commenting. You’ll still be my blogging friend after this coming weekend, won’t you, when y’all invade Notre Dame Stadium???

  17. Lenore Diane says:

    Neither I nor my siblings were band kids; however, one of our nephews was a band kid, and what pride we all had in his ‘sport’. He did not tryout for college (UT, Austin), but he still respects everything band. I would be thrilled to see my boys become active in band. Stay tuned ….

    • Debbie says:

      Band would be excellent for your boys, Lenore! It teaches them discipline, camaraderie, respect (for themselves and others). It gives them a feeling of belonging and nurtures their self-esteem. And most Band Directors I’ve come into contact with are the VERY best teachers and mentors!

  18. camary1996 says:

    I have 6 kids and half of them were in the band!!! My husband and I are still having nightmares…LOL! Like…is it time to pick them up at 1:00 am in the morning from a competion or everyday from band camp? Wait I think my husband is still sitting out there!!

    Oh man…I think we still owe money for candy bars for the funraiser. I will NEVER run out of gift wrap!!

    We both wear hearing aids now because we had a drummer and a cymble player!!

    Oh the life of a band parent….but VERY proud to have been one.

    Thanks Deb for the …memories!!!

    • Debbie says:

      Ah, Tanya, I do appreciate your comments about having a drummer — wasn’t that something?? Thankfully, mine switched to Trumpet (eventually playing things I could hum), though he still has a way of tapping on things like desks, his knees, books, whatever. But yes, being a Band Parent was phenomenal, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it!

      • camary1996 says:

        Oh Deb…you reminded me of the tapping on EVERYTHING!!! I thought I was going to lose my mind!

        The best thing about being a band parent was seeing them come down the street in a parade…I still get goose bumps when I look at the pictures!

  19. Bella says:

    Debbie, believe it or not, I played clarinet in junior high. So did my sister and for some reason, she still has her clarinet while I have no idea where mine ended up. I loved playing in the school band. I hated licking that reed though! In all honesty, one of my motivators was the fact that I had a crush on the tuba player. ha! My hat goes off to you and all the other band parents. You deserve a medal for caring the way you do, for encouraging your children, and for being there for them every step of the way. Perhaps I should say, for every game! 🙂

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