So, He's in it Only for the Drums.
About six years ago, a little boy entered my studio with this goal, and only this goal. Drums. He wanted to play drums. Today he is one of my brightest and most promising young piano students. And yes, today he plays the drums in his school band.
In my mind, it is perfectly acceptable for him to begin piano lessons because deep down he wants to play drums.
I have taught a number of piano students who go into their school’s band program in 5th or 6th grade. Many school band programs require percussion students to have two years of piano lessons. In addition, I have taught high school band students wanting to learn keyboard in order to be admitted to the Music Program in college.
It is immensely gratifying to see how band helps piano, and vice versa. In the beginning, piano is likely to help a child’s sight-reading skills for band. But, more often than not, band gives the student an excellent sense of rhythm.
Personally, I am a huge fan of the band, especially the marching band. I mean, who knew that wearing a full regalia of polyester could make you develop perseverance, not to mention humility?
I've seen marching band develop:
Self-esteem through self expression.
And no, I don’t mean black lipstick. Nor am I referring to the self-expression found by inserting chain-linked wallets into the pockets of low-slung jeans. Band doesn’t mean that he’ll automatically bypass all fashion-indiscretions, but music will give your student another way to express himself. My own child, a band student, grew his hair to his shoulders one year. Grimace. Self expression.
Band students play pop songs, rock, classical, marches, calypsos, and best of all the school fight song, ad nauseam. But, at an age that he needs self esteem, marching band will deliver.
The value of community.
I’ve experienced band camp as a parent chaperone, not once, but a couple of times. My husband, Don, is a veteran camp chaperone - five years!
Incoming freshman and new students, in particular, board the band camp bus as strangers. However, during a week of blood (yes, blisters and falls are real), sweat, and tears, these students leave as a family. There’s nothing like self-sacrifice to build community.
Regardless of their dorky reputation, band students have fun together and they STICK TOGETHER. As an aside, they seem a bit kinder than the general student population, too. This closeness, this sense of community, may be the first time kids ever experience “family” outside of their home life.
Music programs are known to develop community, which in turn, sets young adults up for success after high school.
Pride in something bigger than themselves.
He will learn how to work as a group. He will learn to work as a team. He will learn to practice so he won’t drag his section down. He learns to pull his own weight for the good of the group. This is perfect training for life: in the workplace, in the family, and in their community at-large.
And, my all-time favorite:
The value of humility.
Nothing will reach the depths of humility better than wearing that gaudy polyester uniform. The cool percussionists, the nerdy baritones, the cocky trumpets ... yes, they all wear the uniform.
And, they stand tall together. They respect one another.
So yes, piano parent… It is MORE than okay for your child to use the “drums” as an excuse to take piano lessons. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, he’ll grow to love piano, too!
Though I was never a member of the marching band, I proudly donned a red polyester blazer, white polyester slacks and a white polyester turtleneck with an award-winning choir. Two of my sons spent eight years in the Brighton High School band program.