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Should I Quit Band?

So, there's a lot of problems. My band only has about 20 people. 1 out of our four middle schools are sending up new freshmen to our band. I've also started losing interest in band. Most kids in band are either new/inexperienced, or they just don't practice, and don’t care. Most kids are just trying to get their fine arts credits for graduation. There’s no after school clubs for band, since Jazz Band was made into an actual class. There’s no marching band. All that's left is drumline and I have no interest in that. I play trumpet, and there used to be three of us, but one moved to another school, and the other has no idea what he’s doing. Basically, I'm pulling the weight for trumpets. I love being able to say that I play trumpet in band, and I really don't want to let my band and teacher down. I like having an easy class where I don’t need to worry about a grade. My band teacher also says that he could get me a scholarship, but I just got braces, which really prevents me from playing well. I don’t plan on continuing band in college if I don’t get a scholarship. If I quit band, it will help free up classes so I don't have to take summer school to catch up on credits. What are your thoughts? Will it look bad for college applications if I quit band?
#music #music-education #music-production #music-production #musician #art #college #teacher # #scholarship #teaching #school #education

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Kim’s Answer

Wow Christian!

I am so sorry that the adults in your school have let you down. And I say that because they should have a steady "pipeline" from middle school feeding into the high school band program. Whoever is supposed to create that interest dropped the ball. At first I was thinking of challenging you to fix it, but then I remembered, you are very driven academically. Trying to save band would take you away from your academics.

No, it's not bad if you quit band. And, you would not be quitting "it." It is quitting you. As you described it, it is falling apart. I doubt that any scholarship your teacher could help you get would be enough to even pay for your books. If anyone asks, you could just say that the band was starting to dis-band! (bad joke, sorry!)

What year are you in? I am happy to help you whenever needed. You seem to be under a lot of pressure to make decisions and commitments - happy to help. Life sometimes gets a little hectic.

Thanks so much! I'm still on the fence, but your answer has really put the situation into a better perspective. I'm in my fourth year of band. (I started in 7th grade and I'm now in 10th. After my first year, I skipped the 8th grade intermediate band and moved straight to the 9th grade advanced band.) The band music is very basic, since most kids are just learning how to play their instruments. That's why Jazz band was moved as a class instead of an after school club: Concert Band is going to be for beginners, while Jazz Band is for advanced players. But, like I said, I just got braces, and my interest has started to burn out. Christian S.

If I did quit though, would it look bad for college applications? I plan on taking electives like Engineering and Robotics instead if I do quit band. What elective looks better? Thanks again! Christian S.

Stop calling it "Quitting!" I think it would look bad if you were trying to pursue college band, but, not otherwise. Anyone who looks at your transcript will see that you are challenging yourself. I doubt anyone would think twice about it! Should anyone ask you, you could honestly say "I got braces, and they interfered with my ability to perform to the level I expect of myself/that I previously had." I've had braces, I know! Or, "Because I was not pursuing a music career, I decided to use my electives more wisely." I don't know about those two classes. Engineering sounds more academic. Robotics sounds creative/fun. I think they both would look good! Kim Igleheart

Hey Christian! I would say if you genuinely like playing the trumpet, then by all means, stay, but if you don't, then it's also okay to quit too! - speaking from personal experience. You mentioned feeling burned out and it would free up classes if you quit, so don't feel guilty at all if you decide you want to quit. I quit marching band after my first semester of 9th grade, so I can definitely relate on that part. Hope that helps! Lisa ♡.

It's just so hard to decide. I love the people there, and I moved to the school this year, and it's been hard making friends, but band just has this sense of camaraderie that I don't think you can get anywhere else. But it's always stressful. I just don't want to let anyone down, and I want to be a part of the conversation when people talk about band and stuff. I like to be the person that says that they're in band, even if people think it's a little nerdy. I enjoy the trips that we get to go on. But, my dad saw/listened to my band for the first time, and he told me that my band wasn't going to get me anywhere. And to top it all off, my band teacher is quitting. Christian S.

How to make this decision?what is most important, what is not essential, etc. Being new,band lets you fit in.We all want that! If the rest of your course load is challenging, maybe you need it, to unwind! Your interests in military academies, robotics, etc. tell me other classes would better prepare you. BUT, you already know that. Ask: If you were paying for school, would you choose band?What are your goals? What is the best path to reaching those goals? It sounds like you are trying to find a way to justify staying in band when you already believe you should be taking other classes. On the other hand, school should be a little fun. You have the rest of your life to be an adult!Nobody can make this decision for you. Except perhaps your Dad. . . sorry! Kim Igleheart

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Rafael’s Answer

Hi, Christian. Thank you for your question. In short, if you truly love music/band then don't give up on it. Let me share a resource that I and many other musicians have used to keep the fire going; Jamey Aebersold tracks. This is a band-in-a-box type of resource that you can play along with on the trumpet. As a long time trumpeter (French Besson-Marvin Stamm, w/Giardinelli 7vs mouthpiece), I've used this resource to learn how to jazz improvise. It also fills in the gaps where you want to play in a 'band' but from your own practice room.

Please Google Jamey Aebersold and find the link where you can download some sample tracks that you can play along with the band. You will find many tracks where the trumpet part is muted and all you hear is the band playing in the background. Then you provide the trumpet part. I think this resource will really help you stay motivated to keep playing. Please let me know how this works out for you.

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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi Christian! First of all, congratulations for playing in a band and for playing trumpet! Not the easiest instrument.

Instead of giving you a flat out answer at first, I have a few questions for you...

  1. Do you enjoy playing the trumpet?
  2. Are you in band "only" for credit or do you love to make music?

If you answered yes to #1, then stick with it. Staying in any curriculum because you feel you "have" to is not the best reason - especially as an artist. You should decide how important playing the trumpet is to you. Try not to make decisions based on what others may think of you - this is always a trap. Stay true to yourself.

If you are only in band for the credit, or because it will "look good" on your report card, or whatever, that isn't the best reason to stick with it.

If the only determining factor for you to stick with it is if you get a scholarship, I'm guessing that the trumpet just isn't all that important to you - that you're just not "into" it. And that's fine! Only, again, be honest with yourself.

Usually, when someone is gifted on an instrument, they enjoy it and nothing stops them from pursuing their art - scholarship or not.

Being dishonest with your band teacher is not doing him/her any favors. You need to come clean with him/her and be honest about your interest, or lack thereof, in playing the trumpet and/or pursuing it as a major moving forward.

So I'm afraid I don't have a clear-cut "yes" or "no" answer for you. You must search your own soul and decide if the trumpet is for you or not. If it is, then by all means, stick with it. If it is not, then find where your real interests lie and pursue that. And if you just don't know, that is alright, too. Life takes time.

But it is always a good idea to be honest with yourself and others - in general, in life. So I encourage you to simply ask yourself if you love playing the trumpet. Or not. And go from there!

All the best to you!

Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

Do some soul searching to decide if you truly love playing trumpet or not.
Be honest with your band teacher about what you really feel and want to do.
Don't be too hard on yourself - whether you enjoy band or not. Be you!
Stay true to who God made you to be!
Take some time and realize that you might have other gifts to offer the world in addition to the trumpet. Don't limit yourself!

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Bryan’s Answer

If you truly enjoy playing and you are not being challenged in your band class, you should explore other outlets to play in. Depending on what kind of music you enjoy playing, you should be able to find an outlet to play in such as a youth orchestra, community band, etc. If you are truly interested in playing in college, you should start identify colleges that you are interested in, see what kind of music scholarships are offered and see what the audition requirements are and start preparing. Also, attend band festivals and solo competitions to see where you stand in comparison to others to determine if you are at a level where you will achieve college scholarships. Additionally, while in high school, many community colleges allowed high school students to take music classes and ensemble classes there for credit that may be more rewarding than your high school program.

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John’s Answer

Hi Christian, sorry to hear about your experience. I too was in band when I was in school and learned quickly that band is not for everyone, and it sure wasn’t a fit for me! What I would tell you and the advice I would give is to pursue your passions and hold firm to it. If you’re not passionate about band or playing the trumpet, which it doesn’t appear that you are based on your comments, I would recommend you find something else that appeals to you.

I would not be worried about what a college is going to think or how they will respond to you quitting band unless you are considering pursuing band at a college or university. Create tangible 1-5 year goals for yourself and write out some realistic steps on the actions you will take to accomplish those goals. I would also recommend sharing those with someone you trust who can hold you accountable.

I wish you all the best and good luck in your pursuits!