By John Gardner
I post variations of the picture advice below every year about this time — because this is Marching Band season.
Marching band students are together soooo much, 6-8-10 hours a day during camp and multiple hours daily during school. They rehearse together, eat meals together, have breaks together, travel together, perform together.
Lots of couplings happen during band….and that is not a bad thing. I met my wife of 38 yrs during college band. There are some terrific couples I know, parents of teens, who were high school sweethearts.
Over the years, however, and too many times – I’ve seen good people have to drop out of band due to decisions made in some of these couplings. A few years ago, I got a response from a former student…..
“I wish I had listened to you.”
Partly because she was such a tremendous student with a high GPA and more potential for higher-level success than many, and because her parentals had surrendered most of their credibility, I had a really awkward (for me) conversation about how she was dressing, flirting and flaunting….. Dangerous territory, because teachers really aren’t supposed to go there. I strive to earn a level of teen respect so that I CAN.
Her note, which came about 3 years into college, provides encouragement. She thanked me for that conversation and described the value to a teen of an adult who cares. I want to be that mentor. It is for people like her and stories like hers that I continue to risk “professional” criticism. Of course, I try to be CARE-ful.
Thanks for reading,