The Dedicated Band ParentBen Hilmer
At your next student performance, look around for the dedicated band parents. You’ll find the dedicated band parents, hustling and helping out before and after the show. They’re down in the trenches: working five to six nights a week on props, prepping the semi for a long-haul event, pushing hard at a fund-raiser to make sure all the performers can afford to go on that trip of a lifetime. You’ll easily find them–the Dedicated Band/Orchestra/Debate/Choir/Theatre/Winter Guard/Athletic Team/Percussion Parents–noticeable, efficient and self-effacing.
The dedicated band parents do what they do because they believe in the kids and the positive effects music, sports, the arts, teamwork, and competition have on kids. (For simplicity, we’ll just call these adults ‘Band Parents’, although we all know that these folks support debaters, athletic teams, performing arts groups, robotics clubs, “We the People” contestants and participants in every conceivable school-sponsored student activity.) All of them work hard, and all of them are very important to their organizations.
Let’s face it, ‘Band Parents’ need a huge pat on the back. They usually end up doing the work nobody else wants to do. If there is something nobody can figure out, ‘Band Parents’ run to the rescue! Did something break? – call the ‘Band Parents’. Something heavy has to be moved? – get the ‘Band Parents’. Has Timmy accidentally dropped his tuba into a pool teeming with sharks? – here come the ‘Band Parents’…okay, maybe you should draft a Music Travel Consultants Tour Director to jump in on that one…!
In talking with several ‘Band Parents’, we found that it’s common to see some putting in six hours a night, four to five nights a week, fulfilling the needs of the music program. ‘Band Parents’ are always on call for the band and the directors. ‘Band Parents’ are almost always tagged to build, improve and repair the band’s props. Likewise, they set up the trucks and semis to pull all the equipment to competitions. They fix tires on all the pit instruments, and they handle security in the parking lot after football games so nobody gets run over. They make sure the sound system is working, and that the DOT certification for all band vehicles is current. They bring the pit and props and podiums to the sidelines before the competition, and they make sure those are properly positioned on the field. They cook and sell food at the concession stands at football and basketball games, and if a rival band needs something at a hosted show, host ‘Band Parents’ are the first ones to step up to help. ‘Band Parents’ support the whole band.
Here’s a sample of what ‘Band Parents’ do:
“I am just one of the gushing proud fans and boosters of the Ronald Reagan Band Program. I say this first because it’s what motivates everything we do as a support team for our kids, their directors and staff members, and consultants. With Dan Morrison’s leadership, our goal is to support the program in a way that allows the teachers the freedom to pursue their goals with our children’s best interests in mind. A huge undertaking and well worth the effort for our children! While there are many factors that bring about goal achievement and success, I believe one of the biggest is communication.
Starting with the annual recruitment process in the Spring semester, we reach out to incoming families and give them the tools to keep abreast of everything related to the Reagan Band. I support the director’s weekly email with A LOT of short timely follow-up emails giving reminders for all booster and band information, events, activities, and deadlines. From January 2017 through January 2018, the data shows that I have sent 850 emails: most often a very specific subject line, extremely brief body. Here’s why I send so many…families are busy and kids don’t always remember everything they are supposed to tell Mom and Dad. There is just that much going on in everyone’s lives in addition to the Reagan Band! The more informed all family members stay the better the outcome for all!”
‘Band Parents’ support whatever the directors need them to do. And ‘Band Parents’ couldn’t do any of it if it wasn’t for the devoted teamwork of the other ‘Band Parents’ in their organization. They just get it done, they never ask for anything in return, and they do what it takes because they love the kids and the band program.
A Pit Dad said it this way: “Several new friendships have come to me from being a Pit Dad. You spend so much time with what is essentially another family! I would do anything for the dads in my band, and they would do anything for me. You are already there supporting your son or daughter, you start talking about life and family. If you can’t build a friendship with all the time and hours that you put in together you’re not trying. I have friends that I have met in this program that will be there for me for a lifetime!”
Another Pit Dad summed it up: “Nobody will understand all the work and time that goes into making props, and the hours traveling to competitions. Most people think it’s just weekends in the fall. A Pit Dad’s work is never done! I love the look on the kid’s faces after they come off the field and they know they gave it their all. It makes all the time that Pit Dads spend working behind the scenes worth it. If Pit Dads can take any of the pressure off the directors and staff, so they can concentrate on what they do best – – help our kids become better performers and stronger musicians – – then all the time is well worth it!
Being a Pit Dad is a thankless job. You volunteer to work long hours, spend basically a whole season away from the rest of your family. I was once told that if you are trying to be seen and heard, and like being in the spotlight, then being a Pit Dad isn’t for you. Our only job, no matter what, is just to support the directors and the Band. I can honestly say, just seeing the appreciative looks on the kids’ faces makes every hour, every dollar, and all the hard work WORTH IT!”
With all that ‘Band Parents’ do for their schools, everyone, students, and adults alike should make time to thank ‘Band Parents’ and make sure they know that they mean a lot to the entire community.
Are your band parents ready to take your group on the road? Have your Directors sit down with a Music Travel Consultants Travel Designer and begin planning!