This guide is the product of a group of new band parents who spent a large portion of our "rookie" year in various stages of confusion. In the many hours we spent together watching practices and performances, waiting to pick up our kids, and following yellow school buses, we asked hundreds of questions.
As novice band parents, of course we wanted to know what we should do. After all, the only people who were even more confused, and looking to us for answers, were our children. This article is our attempt to share with the "upcoming rookies" some of the answers to many of these questions before we too forget how it felt not knowing what was going on . . . (of course, we still don't have all the answers - second year band parents).
We hope this booklet helps you in your "endeavors" during your child's rookie year.
Yes, your kids will get a workout. Be prepared for physical exercise and plenty of sweating.
Dress comfortably - caps, sunglasses, sunscreen, comfortable tennis shoes (not high-tops, flip flops or sandles, well broken-in), shorts and light colored t-shirts.
Bring water to drink! It makes staying hydrated much easier. Camel packs and other backpack-style water cooolers are the best. Students wih these get water breaks every minute of rehearsal. Always .ark you container.
Bring a towel (you'll need it!)
Helpful Hints that Save You Time, Gas and Grief
Make your child responsible for being prepared. The first time they forget something will be the last! They learn to be resourceful when they have to be.
At the end of each practice session there are usually announcements - listen up. This is your best opportunity to find out who, what, where and when things are going on.
Network - This is how we met each other. It is also one of the best ways to get helpful hints on band parenting from others.
Carpool to competitions and games when parent busses aren't available. Also sign up as a chaperone whenever possible. You get a free ride and usually free admission to the event.
Be prepared to cheer! The band loves it when they have their own cheering section.
Don't put uniform (except dress uniform) items away in the closet or drawers when cleaned. Keep all items (socks, shoes, gloves, etc.) in a bag. That way you won't spend time hunting for them each time they're needed.
Inspections are held before traveling in the bus lane, and before home games inside the St. Amant Middle Gym. Students should be in place no later than the time they were told to report. In this instance, start time means students should be in uniform and in the inspection line a few minutes prior to inspection! Allow time for changing into uniforms, and preparing instruments for inspection. Your student and their instrument (even the inside of the instrument) will be inspected as they stand at attention by sections. Students should be sure to not have any unapproved jewelry or face paint of any kind. Students who don't pass inspection have to leave and can't return until they have fixed the issue...this usually never happens twice.
"Inspection is at six o'clock"
If you're early, you're on time, if you're on time, you're late. When you drop your child off at 5:30, there will be students already there, ready to play. At this point, the anxiety level for being late dramatically increases. This is when your child will be sweating bullets. Beware of the traffic. Always allow extra time. There are no excuses.
"Where are your dot cards?"
These are very detailed charts that students wear around their necks during band camp and at rehearsals that tell them exactly where they stand for different setups, like Opener 6. If you ever see these at home, your child didn't do what they were supposed to (turn them in). The same is true for poker chips.
"Where's my dot?" and "Do we line up on the hash?"
These terms indicate how the practice field is marked off. Students use their dot cards to answer these questions.
"The band received an Excellent rating"
Excellent is not the best. Each band is striving for a Superior rating.
Consists of a small select group which travels to games where it is not feasible to bring everyone.
"Play to the box!"
This means that instruments should be directed toward the tower on the practice field where the powers-that-be live and flourish.
The practice field is actually the soccer practice field at the far back corner of campus. Usually there will be a "run-through" near the end of practice. This is also a good location to gather information, and network.
Uniforms, Uniforms, Uniforms or "What do I wear?"
All Dress Uniforms will be handed out prior to each game or performance. Students will never bring home the Dress Uniform for any reason.
The Dress Uniforms consist of:
- Formal jacket
- Formal pants (just touching the top of shoes)
- Black Drill Master shoes
- Black socks
- We suggest having several pairs that are exactly alike. (Dryers love to eat socks)
- Hat with plume
- Light soccer or running type shorts to be worn under pants for group changes. Students must change out of their uniform before leaving the performance...with or without anything to change into.
- Black T-shirt (usually the show shirt)
- No jewelry, face paint, or odd hair accessories
Summer Uniform - worn for pep rallies, first few football games, and as travel uniforms.
- Issued polo shirt with band logo
- Black pants.
- Black belt - a must to pass inspection
- Black socks.
- Black Drill Master Shoes.
- Light shorts if changing to formal uniform is expected.
You Know You're a Band Parent When . . .
- You make three more trips than expected to drop off your child with everything they need.
- You can't pick your child out of the crowd because they all look alike.
- You no longer speak of your child as a fourteen-year-old daughter/son, but as a "freshman trumpet."
- You prominently display a band calendar in the kitchen, have band dates marked on the calendar in your phone, and have the Band Phone Number on speed dial.
- There's no such thing as a prior commitment.
- You know that you will be wearing something Black and Gold every Friday night.