Dear Band Directors,
I never really grew up around bands. Believe it or not, my home school didn’t even have a band when I was a kid, we struggled at times to even get enough players for a football team. We were a basketball school, particularly girls basketball. I don’t really remember playing many (if any) schools with bands. I was an Ole Miss fan, so I always enjoyed the Pride of the South at football games I’d go to, but that was the extent of my band knowledge.
I have two amazing kids, kids that are smart, talented, and most important to me, kind. They are both very musical, especially my oldest. But my youngest has always been blessed in that way as well. One of my good friends in a previous church that we served was a band director, and he used to joke that he had my daughter’s career already planned out. I text him a picture of me “pushing the pit” for my first time and he was mad, I was supposed to be doing that for him! We knew early on that band would be a part of our lives. In fact, when we moved to Madison, one of the reasons we bought a house in the Germantown “zone” was because we had heard so much about the band program there. Now, as the father of a freshman that has finished her first year of marching season with the GHS Band and a son that this is the middle of beginners band at Germantown Middle School, I’ve been more immersed in the band life. I have learned so, so much. I have pushed “pit” onto the field, helped to make “the world-famous Mav burger,” worked crowd control at band competitions, and my wife and I have made sure that we have been there to support our kids and the Germantown High and Middle School Bands at all kind of events and competitions. We are committed, but there are many parents that are even more committed than we are.
After several years of as a band parent, I cannot tell you how thankful I have been for my kids to have had this experience so far and that I look forward to more years to come. I want to say thank you to all men and women that work not only with Germantown Bands, but so many of the amazing marching programs. Let me tell you just a few reasons why:
- The confidence I have Seen Develop in My Children – I have a clarinetist and a trombonist. I have seen (and listened) to them practice their instruments. They are both far more talented than I could have ever been, so I have been blown away by how good they are. But that’s not what impresses me the most. It is that look of joy when they get it right. It is that happiness that comes from success. It is that confidence that comes from knowing that they worked hard at something and achieved it, on an individual and collective basis.
- Team Work – I played football for a long time and I know the importance of good teamwork; everyone doing their part. But for a band, that teamwork seems multiplied to me. Not only must the sound be right, but the movements must be as well. So many things must go “right” for it to be right. I have loved seeing my kids get that. I have loved seeing them understand that their success is linked and tied to the success of the team. All the individual parts make up the whole. Band is teaching them that value. I think in many ways band teaches this more than sports. In the analytical sports world, we live in today, the individual trumps the team for many athletes. It all devolves to statistics. In the band, the individual is always part of the greater whole.
- Hard Work – I know that football teams historically do two-a-days and work really hard. But I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group of kids work harder than the Germantown High School Band this summer. They had freshman camp, all day long. Then band camp, all day long. Then practice in the morning, each day. Then afternoon practices. Then night practices. Then Saturday practice. Then football games. Then marching competitions. It was ALL THE TIME. But you know what, it was worth it. Because it shows that hard work pays off. Because even if you don’t win every time, you got consistently better, each time. You learned. You grew. You pushed. And you responded.
- Being Part of Something Excellent – I told my daughter early this year one of the things I was most excited about her being part of something excellent. The theme for the Germantown Band was “Be Legendary.” And let me tell you, they were. Their show this year was AMAZING. I stood beside one man on the field this year and he turned to me after the show and said, “I don’t know anything about bands, but that was awesome.” For my kids, they may never be a part of a more excellent organization than Germantown Bands. But this shows them what can be. What standards they should hold themselves, and others too. To be better you must be around those that are better. Band teaches that.
- Healthy Competition – You play to win them the game. I’ve heard coaches say that. You want to win. You want to be “first chair.” Both my kids have spent some time as first chair. But you know what is cool? My son told us that he was glad that the other boy that he has been competing with him for first chair is his friend. He likes that, that way if he wins, he’s happy. But if his friend wins, he’s happy too. I’ve seen how bands root for each other in competitions. They support each other in their shows. The other band really isn’t their competition, each band is really competing against themselves. That’s a good way to look at competition. You want to win, you want to be in first place. But what really matters is doing the very best you can. That’s all you have control over. You can have a perfect show. Everything can go right. And you may still not win. That’s a good lesson to learn in life. Do your best. That’s all you control.
- Different Kinds of Friends – As I mentioned before, my kids have always been kind people, they have always been more kind that I have been. One thing I love about band is the different kinds of friends that my kids have. Kids all different ethnicities, friends from all over. Music attracts all people, thus making the band a pretty diverse place. One of the things that I think (hope, pray) is true about my kids is that they are color blind. I really think band has helped grow that within them.
- Appreciation for Music – I’m a music nerd. I like all kinds of music. I love seeing that love of music develop in my kids. Historically an appreciation of music is part of the basis of a well-rounded education. So many studies show that music appreciation is a key to a good education. I love seeing my kids learn new standards as well as classical music. I think this bodes well for their future education.
- Community – My daughter told me once that she liked playing the clarinet, but she loved being in band. Band has become their place. Band kids are their “people.” The band directors are their teachers. I don’t know all faces of the kids they mention when they talk about their friends, but I hear so much about them, I feel like I do. In a world that can be hard and cold, my kids have a community, frankly apart from our family. That makes me very, very happy.
So to Mr. Harvison, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Craft, Mr. Peacock, and Mrs. Swindoll, thanks for all your hard work for our kids. All our kids are better for it. To all those that work with the bands, thanks. Our kids are better for it. And if your kid is ever tempted to do band, but thinks it is too much, trust me, it is a lot. But trust me as well, it is worth it.
Thank you so much for posting this. I just read this to both my boys and it echoes our feelings whole-heartedly. We are so glad that we have met and know your family. And so glad that y’all are part of the Germantown band family.
Oh. My. Goodness. You just articulated everything I feel about the Germantown Band program. I have a daughter who graduated GHS in 2017 who wouldn’t be the person she is without Justin Harvison. She’s a French Horn major at Southern Miss. My middle daughter is a sophomore percussionist and my youngest daughter is a saxophonist in beginner band just like your son. Both are better students because of band. And by the way, I think it might have been my husband that told you after a show that he didn’t know anything about music but knew that she’s was awesome. He never pictured himself a band parent when our kids were little but he loves every minute of it. Bravo!!! 👏🏻