I’m With the Band

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 6, 2013 in Family Stuff

Not only am I now a dance mom…I’m also a band mom (fortunately, there is no associated show on Lifetime to highlight the behavior of this organization).

My son Matt has incredible musical talent.  He started playing the clarinet in 4th grade, and continued on with the clarinet into middle school where he was able to join both the middle school band as well as the high school marching band.

I had no previous experience with marching band when Matt joined (other than a very brief stint twirling flags at football games in my own high school).  Like being a dance mom, being a band mom has taught me a few things:

  • Band competitions are a HUGE commitment for the kids – there is a competition every single Saturday – and sometimes on Sundays – as well as football games on Friday nights.  Not to mention band camp, hours and hours of practice…and overnight trips, too.  As a parent, you have to clear your entire weekend calendar from early September through Thanksgiving.
  • Band competitions are expensive for the family to attend – it costs about $10 per person to get into each competition (no watching for free).  For a family of 3 or 4, this can add up pretty quickly.  Not to mention the concession stand, program, candy-grams (candy sent to your band member), air-grams (an announcement made to your band member as they walk out onto the field), T-shirts, etc.
  • It gets really cold in those stadiums while waiting for your band to perform – cold metal bleachers necessitate cushions, blankets, sweatshirts, heavy gloves, hats and scarves (all in your school’s color, of course).  I should also add that sitting on backless bleachers for hours sometimes causes back pain.
  • Watching marching bands is so much fun!  We loved watching our band improve over the season – and other bands too.  Some of the costumes are really creative.  The music is moving. And while the competition has winners, everyone is supportive of other bands (mostly).
  • If it starts raining, they keep playing (until there is lightning – in which case everyone runs for the hills).
  • Cowbells are really loud – but they really let your band know you are cheering them on.
  • It is inappropriate to enter the stands while a band is performing (you have to wait until they are done their set).  It is also VERY inappropriate to talk (especially on your cell phone) when someone is performing.  I didn’t really learn this one – it’s just common sense (but doesn’t seem to be widely known).
  • I LOVE watching my son perform on the field!  He looks so grown up in his uniform and hat (called a “shako”).   I would drive anywhere to see him play.

Here is one of my favorite photos of Matt performing:


After going through two band competition seasons, I was so looking forward to another next year.

However…that may not be the case.

My son now plays both the clarinet AND the bassoon.  Something else I’ve also learned – bassoons are huge.  And extremely hard to play.  And PRICEY.  But players are sought after in college (here’s where we are hoping to get a return on our investment).

Matt is doing extremely well with the bassoon and I’m very proud of him.  In fact, he was in the All South Jersey Junior High Honors band playing the bassoon on Sunday afternoon.  Here he is before the concert:

All South Jersey

And coming off stage afterward.  His is the very large, reddish instrument:


I actually heard other parents behind me asking, “What’s that big, red thing?”

I could go on and on about all of Matt’s performances, but let me get to my point.

He has applied for (and was accepted to) a different high school next year.  He will be attending a Fine Arts Academy program as well as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy program (did I mention he’s also writing computer programs at 13? Love this kid!) that offers college credits – the first time they’ve ever had a student in both programs.  I am so proud of him – this is a great opportunity.

But that means he’s leaving Pitman schools – and their marching band. :(

Looks like I may have some Saturdays free this fall.

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