7 Lessons I Learned In Band

Posted by Sydney Myers

May 9th, 2017

It’s no secret that music has the ability to change a person, or at least change the way you feel about something. Music education is no different.

I joined my school band in fifth grade. Through years of moving schools, dealing with the passing of my mother, and other stresses, I always stayed in band. It was something I could do that was required (as an art credit), but that I didn’t feel like I was forced to do. I learned more than just how to play an instrument. I learned lessons that have stuck with me. Here are just a few of them.

1. Natural talent will only get you so far.

There are some people who seem to just be born to do a certain thing, whether it’s play a certain instrument or sport, write, draw, or some other activity. They just have that special something that gives them an advantage from day one. However, there is no amount of natural talent that will make you able to play a difficult piece of music without practicing.

And no matter how much talent you have, if you don’t practice, someone (who is practicing) will surpass you.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Click To Tweet

2. Failure is not fatal. There’s always another note to play.

There were some days when our director would hand out sheet music that you could tell was going to be difficult. Casting fear to the wind, you ready your instrument and begin playing.

And you mess up.

A lot.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many notes you miss, there’s always another one coming right up. Failure doesn’t mean the piece is over. You have plenty more chances to learn from your mistake. The next time that section comes around, you’re always better.

band joke

3. Everyone is good at something.

There can be anywhere between 10-30 or more instruments in a school band. They’re all different and require different skills and talents.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get any sound to come out of a clarinet. That’s ok, I got a trumpet to make some noise!

You’re not going to be good at everything, but everyone is good at something.

4. You don’t have to be loud to make a statement.

Before I played the trumpet, I played the flute. Why did I switch?

At that time I was in a very small band and my flute could barely be heard. I decided that if I was going to work so hard on something, I wanted to be heard.

So I switched to the trumpet.

I moved schools the next year and that band had several more flute players. You wouldn’t think a quiet instrument like the flute would be able to stand out among a band of trumpets, tubas, and drums, but together, those flute players were quite a force. One by itself might have gotten drowned out, but you put enough of them together and they’re hard to ignore.

5. How to be a professional.

Even as a middle school student, you are taught the correct form to follow while performing, especially at competitions. Posture, instrument placement, presentation, and timing were all vital components of delivering a winning performance.

You learn what it means to be a professional – a valuable lesson that follows you for the rest of your life.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. - Vince Lombardi Click To Tweet

6. You don’t have to hate your job.

No one grows up telling their parents, “I want to be an accountant someday!” Yeah, you’re not going to hear that from a 6-year-old. We all want to be artists, musicians, ballerinas, or astronauts.

(Personally, I wanted to be an Indian until I realized that wasn’t actually a profession, it’s just who you are.)

But how many people actually grow up and have their dream job? So many give up on that ever happening. But you don’t have to. Seeing our band directors every day showed that you don’t have to hate your job.

If you’re passionate about something, you can turn it into a career.

Words fail music speaks shirt7. Love.

I don’t mean romantic or family love. I mean that love for something that’s not even a real thing but you know you can’t live without it and it’s the only thing you want to do.

Music is not a person. It’s not an animal. It’s not even an object like a house.

But we love it.

The same way an artist loves the act of painting or a writer loves the process of story-telling. At the age of 10 or 11, when most kids join a school band, you probably haven’t loved very many things. Band teaches you what it’s like and how it can change you.

I don’t think playing the trumpet changed me. I think it was the music.

(If you really love music, check out our “Music Speaks” shirt!)

Those are seven lessons I learned in Band. They’ve served me well in life. What sort of impression do you hope to make on your students or what lessons do you hope they learn?

Music taught me.... Click To Tweet


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