Band Parenting 101

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PARENT SURVIVAL GUIDE – The 2016 Edition

Not sure what exactly your child has gotten into?  Look no further:  Everything you wanted to know (and then some!) is listed below!

What’s so great about being in the Marching Band?

Ask 100 parents this question, and you’re likely to get 100 different answers!  Every child benefits differently from membership.  For some, the greatest benefit is the increase in their child’s self confidence.  For others, it’s the friendship network that it has helped build.  Or, it could be giving their child a sense of pride and accomplishment after working hard and giving a great performance in front of an excited crowd.

Being a member of the Marching Phantoms will give your child a valuable educational and social experience.  They will work hard and experience many triumphs, as well as some hardships and disappointments – things that will prepare them for the “real world” and life after high school.

For parents, marching band lets you be a part of your child’s life at a time when you are feeling less and less welcome in it.  Sharing the Marching Band experience with your child will give you memories that are precious.  Through Marching Band, you’ll see your child grow from a cheeky adolescent to a young adult…and you’ll be extremely proud of their involvement and achievements in the program.

For whatever the reasons for being a member, one thing is certain – Marching Band opens a door your children will not find anywhere else, and what they experience here will be remembered fondly throughout their lives.

Get to know the Marching Phantoms

Band Director – The “head coach”.   He is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the band program, including designing the show, hiring and supervising extra staff & consultants, coordinating needs with the Band Boosters, and yes, teaching!

Band Staff – You will regularly see college students and other adults working with the band.  They all have a variety of experiences that they bring to this program to help make it the best that they can be.

Student Leaders – A group of upperclassmen who are the “bridge” between the instructors and the members.  If your child has a question about anything going on in the program, these are the first people to ask.

Practice Together, Succeed Together

Marching Band is a group activity, and teamwork is the essence of what makes it a great program.  While we share many aspects with an athletic team, the biggest difference is the fact that we have no “bench”, and require every single person to be at the same level.  The success of individual efforts are judged by group performance.  It is important for parents to understand that, while your child is very important, the needs of all the students will outweigh the individual. That is why the first topic we’ll discuss is the time commitment.

What is the Time Commitment? 

Without a doubt, Marching Band is a big time commitment.  Marching Band requires 100% participation at every scheduled activity.  This season’s Calendar of Events can be found on the website.

Time Management is a key to success in Marching Band and in life.  This may be the most important skill your child acquires as a member of the program.  Some parents even sharpen their skills, too!  New students learn quickly that they must use every minute of their day wisely.  Your student will learn how to keep a schedule, how to be punctual, and how to set priorities.  Be patient…it may take a few weeks for “rookies” to get the hang of it.

Does My Student Really Have to Be There All the Time?

Yes!  All camps, rehearsals, and performances are mandatory!   If your child is absent or unable to play/march/perform their part, it will have a negative impact on the efforts of ALL the other students. To put the best musical product on the field, the Director and Staff need all members present and prepared each and every time.  During most weeks, your child will have at least 2 days without Marching Band.  Arrange doctor’s visits, family trips, etc., on days that your child does not have Marching Band rehearsals or performances.

Conflicts will come up.  Make sure you read the student handbook on how conflicts will be resolved.  Even if the Director is aware of the conflict it could still affect your child’s role in the program.  The attendance policy is explained further in the Band Handbook.

Why is there so much time involved?

A successful Marching Band is akin to building a machine from scratch…like Legos!  There are many behind the scenes creative & design aspects that go into a 7 minute show.  Music to be written, drill pages (the spots each student has on the field at any given moment) need to be designed and choreography must be written.  Each one of those steps cannot be completed until the one before it is finished.

After the design process comes the teaching process.   It takes approximately 8 hours of rehearsal time to learn 30 seconds of the program. This is why we front load a lot of time into the summer when the students have limited other responsibilities in their life.

Finally, there is the cleaning process – the reviewing & repetition to develop proper muscle memory.  In a perfect world, concepts are taught and instantly memorized.  It takes approximately 27 times to make a new habit “permanent”.   Multiply that by every aspect that is involved in the program, and you begin to see where the time comes from!

Won’t All This Time Spent in Marching Band Affect My Child’s Grades?

Maybe, but not always in the way you might think. You will often see students in the band room reading and doing homework in-between rehearsals.  Granted, students who struggle with time management may have a harder time balancing Marching Band and academics, but many “Rookie” members can find informal tutors amongst older band students to help them with tough subjects.  With the exception of game day Fridays and contest Saturdays, each band student will spend only 6 hours a week in practice after school.

Educational research has shown (and parents agree) that the discipline and focus developed in Marching Band carries over into the classroom.  Not surprisingly, many of the upperclass students are enrolled in honors/AP classes, college bound and receive many academic accolades and college scholarships in addition to their musical accomplishments.

What to expect…..

At Band Camp…

The concentrated time spent during the summer Band Camps are vital to the success of the season. We learn the majority of the marching show during the summer.

Marching Band is not an indoor activity. Students must be prepared to be outside during high temps. Wear light-colored loose clothing, bring extra water (water is provided, but some students want their own), use sunscreen and insect repellent. Only sneakers are allowed…no flip-flops!!  They will also need their instruments and all the supplies (reeds, oils, etc.) needed to keep them working!

Rookie members sometimes question their desire to join Marching Band after the first day in the heat. Encourage them to stick with it for a few more days. Students often change their mind once they get accustomed to the program, adapt to the heat, start making friends, and begin feeling more confident.

Students have the option of purchasing a meal each day (you will get info about this soon).  This is not required.  All logistical information for camp will be outlined in an email/web posting in early July.

At Rehearsals…

Weekly rehearsals are listed on the band calendar. Nighttime rehearsals run from 6pm-9pm.  Students are expected to be ready to go at 6pm, not arriving at 6pm.  Similarly, we dismiss the students at 9pm, but there is a lot of stuff to put away afterwards.  What time they are walking out the door to get picked up then is entirely on their shoulders!

(in other words…Time Management!).

At Football Games…

Students will report to the band room prior to the start of the game.  During this time, students will change into their uniform and warm-up with their section. During the game, they sit in a designated section of the home stands. Parents and friends are not allowed to sit within the band, but usually sit in the section next to us.

If there is a visiting band, we perform before the game starts.  If there is no visiting band, we will perform at halftime and/or postgame.  After half-time, the students are given the 3rd quarter off as a break from performance, but must be back in their stands by the end of the 3rd quarter.  After the game, the band will march back to the band room, get final announcements, and be dismissed AS A GROUP.  Students are not allowed to leave football games until formal dismissal, unless other arrangements have been approved in writing by the Band Director PRIOR to the game.

For away games, similar procedures will apply.  Report times will be dependent on travel & traffic in the area.  Unless there is a special event, we will perform at halftime at away games.

At Competitions…

Marching Band competitions are like track meets or softball tournaments where many different schools compete/perform.  For the band, competitions are their “game days.”  Band competitions are hosted by another school’s band program and take place in their football stadium.  Bands that perform are critiqued and ranked in different areas of Marching Band performance by qualified judges.

Competitions are, for the most part, always on Saturdays.  The band will have an extended rehearsal on those days, and then load the buses to go to the show itself   As the end of the season comes closer, this sometimes switches to Sunday for the championship programs.  Once our performance time is set by the host school, the schedule is published on our website.

The band will rehearse for a block of time prior to leaving for the show.  These days will be long – sometimes 12-14 hours.  Plan ahead to make sure students have a lunch (during the rehearsal block) and money for dinner at the host school.  Even if it is cold out, sunscreen and water are GREAT items to have on hand. Students should be prepared for different weather conditions.  It is often hot during the mid-day sun and occasionally rainy. Be sure to pack a jacket for the cooler weather after the sun goes down!

At the end of the competition, an awards ceremony is held.  Once awards are given, students return to their buses and travel back to Phoenixville.  Back at the band room, students are formally dismissed as a group once everything is unloaded.  Students are to be picked up within 20 minutes of final dismissal.

If the schedule is altered while we are “on the road”, we will make sure that all families are aware of the change through email, Facebook, mass texting, etc.

Parades/Community Events

Each year, we do a variety of community events:

  • Halloween Parade (late Oct)
  • Winter Parade (December)
  • Dogwood Parade (May)

Like everything else, these are a requirement of participation in Marching Band:  they are usually the only time that a portion of our community actually sees the band itself.

The Band…on a budget

There are three sources of income to support the organization:

1) District Budget
2) Phantom Band Boosters
3) Additional monies supplied by students

A note about fundraising:  You and your student will have several opportunities to fundraise to help the band. Some of these fundraisers benefit the program as a whole (such as working the concession stand), and others benefit both the program and your student individually.  In coordination with the Boosters, we try to make sure that these Fundraisers are also a time to work together with your fellow band members and band parents: it’s a great way to make new friends!

Directions will be given with each fundraiser on who to contact if you have questions and where the money will go.

Outfitting the Band

The uniforms that the band uses were purchased in 2015 by the school district.   Unless otherwise notified, the uniform will always be stored at school.    Once the parts are assigned, it is the student (and family’s) responsibility to maintain them according to the guidelines that are distributed.  Any repairs should be approved by the Band Director or Boosters Uniform Chairperson first.

Some parts of the uniform must be provided by the student/parents.  These items are purchased separately; but since they must still be “uniform”, some are available to be purchased through the Boosters.   These items are listed in the band handbook (online).

Who are the Phantom Band Boosters?

The Phantom Band Boosters (PBB) are a volunteer organization whose main purpose is to support the Instrumental Music Program and Color Guard at Phoenixville Area High School.  Our focus is to support the students and staff in any way possible, promote the program in the community, and to raise money to help offset the cost of:

  • Music
  • Instruments
  • Color guard flags
  • Competition participation
  • Uniforms
  • Overall maintenance of the band

We hope you will join our monthly meetings to learn how you can lend your support.  We welcome all parents to the meetings and encourage participation and support…no matter how large or small the commitment!

10 Easy Ways For a Parent to Help the Band Program

  1. Give your child support & encouragement for being in band!
  2. When picking up your kids from band, leave your car and get to know the other parents! Building relationships with other adults in the program will benefit both you and your child!
  3. Come to the Booster Meetings!
  4. Meet Deadlines. We know it’s not easy, but it is important to the existence of the band program.
  5. Read your Email/Website:  Most times, all questions can be answered there.
  6. Help build stuff.  Every year, something besides musical instruments needs repaired or built.
  7. Attend football games and competitions to cheer for them! The band ALWAYS performs better with a large cheering block behind them.
  8. Volunteer to Chaperone. After all, you’re coming to the game/competition anyway!  There are a variety of levels of commitment here.
  9. Join our Field Crew for performances. Not everything is heavy, and much of it is on wheels.  Not able to attend? Lend a hand at the school when you drop-off & pick-up your child.
  10. Help with FUNdraisers! The more hands, the easier the work!

You Are More Talented Than You Realize!  Please share your talents with us – and if you have an idea for something new, even better!

Fundraising

The boosters generally run two types of fundraisers: ones that go entirely to the operating budget and ones that are split between the organization and the students.

  • General:  proceeds benefit the entire band/guard.
  • 50/50:  proceeds are shared equally with the general fund and the student account managed by the Boosters.  Funds can be used to pay for trips, shoes and anything related to band/guard (or chorus).  Note:  Once a student graduates, unused funds are rolled into a sibling’s account (if one exists) and then into the general account.  Student account balances are posted monthly to the website.  To create a student account please fill out the “Student Account Profile” and return it to the treasurer.  Student accounts can be opened at any time of the year.

Information Resources

Communication:  There are three ways to get information on the band program.    They are there for you to choose based on how you like to receive your “content”!

  • Phantom Band Website: www.pasd.k12.pa.us/band.   You can also scroll to the bottom and add your email address to receive updates.
  • Facebook Group:    Content from the website will be posted here, but it’s also a good place to ask questions in real time.
  • Twitter: @phantombands.

What if I have a question/concern, or my child is unhappy about something?

This is not an “easy” activity, and there will be days/nights that your child comes home upset/frustrated/etc.  In an activity that relies so much on the group being on the same page at all times, this is bound to happen.  Throw in the ever-changing world of young adults growing up and dealing with hormones, and once in awhile, things will blow up.

First and foremost, it is my hope that you will encourage your child to work through these feelings and move forward.  Most times, after a good night’s sleep,  things will naturally work themselves out the next day.

If you feel that the issue goes a bit deeper, PLEASE contact Mr. McAdams!  99% of the time, issues usually are a result of a breakdown in communication.   It is my job to make sure that everyone involved has a positive experience.

If it is something that cannot be resolved by a phone call or email, then the next step would be to set up a face to face conference.   If a resolution can still not be achieved, then the High School Administration will be involved.

Closing Notes

While this may all seem like a lot of information, it is here for YOU – the parents of the kids in the band – so that you have as much knowledge as possible.    When everyone is on the same page, all of the cogs in this giant machine called Marching Band can move unbelievably well together!

Being in a high school Marching Band is one of the greatest things your child can do – and I want to thank you for your continued support of your child’s musical endeavors.

I’m looking forward to a great year here at Phoenixville, and I hope that your child is too!