Lupe (front) and Andy (back) watch the marching band from the sidelines before they must help students push equipment off the field. Photo © Dave Shaver.
Today we’re putting the MusicProfessor Spotlight on two band parents from Frisco, Texas. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, these two people are my parents. My name is Megan Walding and I’m the Director of Marketing at MusicProfessor. My parents supported me throughout my seven years of middle school and high school education, during which I participated in band. I decided to put the spotlight on them and ask a couple of questions about what the experience was like, looking back, and how they plan to continue with my younger sister, Sophie, who is currently in middle school band.
1. Tell us a bit about your experiences having two children in band.
LUPE: It’s been wonderful to share the experience of band with them. I’ve enjoyed watching Megan learn how to play a musical instrument and excel in that environment. I saw that Megan enjoyed band and became a part of a family, a band family, and continued from middle school all the way through college. It’s been our pleasure to watch her younger sister, Sophie, join band after Megan’s participation; Sophie came to know it that way, and neither of them have shied away from the hard work.
ANDY: I think as a parent you have to be a coach who insists on the practice and the commitment. Our kids joining band has helped us to be better parents because band demands time management and coaching. Getting to be with the girls during tryouts and competitions has let us enjoy their successes, but also be supportive when success doesn’t happen. This challenges not only the kids, but the parents as well. It also gave us an appreciation of music because of the concerts and the different musical styles that the kids were exposed to, as well as an appreciation of the instrument [clarinet] that they both chose.
LUPE: And don’t forget, an appreciation for band directors and the time they devote to the kids!
Sophie was always a team player, doing whatever she could to help during performances. Photo © Dave Shaver.
2. How did you help your children through their musical education?
LUPE: When Megan was nervous about continuing from middle school band to high school band, which I know a lot of kids are, I told her that whoever her instructor was, she would learn something from them. You’re there to play music and enjoy what you’re doing.
ANDY: To build Megan’s confidence, we said, “you have to try it and if it didn’t work it’s gonna be fine. Have confidence in yourself; you’ve worked hard.”
LUPE: And then for Sophie, we saw the benefits from Megan’s music education, so we gave Sophie that opportunity earlier.
ANDY: We started Sophie earlier with music by exposing her to the piano. While she didn’t stick with that, it’s made learning to read music much easier than it was for you. You had to learn everything at once. It wasn’t really a grand plan, but that’s what happened. Most importantly, we were lucky in middle school to have a band director who helped us to understand the benefits of learning music as it related to your education. It would help you with things like math and creative writing and imagination. To this day I agree that everything he said was right on. And that has been the reason we’ve encouraged Sophie to follow in that same path.
Andy and Sophie taking a snack break after helping the band get into the stands at a football game. Photo © Dave Shaver.
3. What were some important decisions you had to make, as parents, throughout your kids’ musical education?
ANDY: One big thing we struggled with was the quality of the instrument you should be playing. Instruments are expensive and there’s a huge risk with spending a thousand dollars on an instrument and then your child turning around and saying they aren’t interested. We were torn between the expenses and giving our child the chance to hear the wonderful music they can make with a top-notch instrument.
LUPE: The first year we rented and we just gauged Megan’s enthusiasm, and then we saw that she wanted to continue in high school, so that’s when we invested. As parents, we were also worried about whether the time commitment for band would be worth it for your educational career, looking forward to college, since you weren’t going to major in music or music education. How any of you band kids did it, I don’t know. But it’s the same with school sports. I think you learn to juggle things and you’re forced to manage your time wisely.
ANDY: I think the band ended up being a core of her life and she ended up applying herself. Megan went into leadership, which gave her skills that we weren’t expecting, like responsibility, caring for others, making decisions. She even became drum major, which we had no way of predicting. Looking back, it was much better and bigger than we could’ve expected. It had a great impact because it engaged us as a family, and I look forward to it if it happens again with Sophie.
Both Andy and Lupe were always happy to help and quickly volunteered to do whatever they could. Photo © Dave Shaver.
4. How did you volunteer with the band and what made you decide to volunteer?
ANDY: I think our answer is very simple. We engaged the band as a family. We participated in every marching competition and every football game performance. Along with other parents we became part of the support crew, primarily with the pit, unloading and loading the truck, supervising the buses, passing out the food, pushing out the equipment onto the field. We were right there with the kids; we suffered the downs of failure and the highs of success.
LUPE: I sewed costumes and also helped move instruments out into the field, which wasn’t easy because we had to take them on and off in a certain amount of time. Andy even ended up doing the announcements at a football game. We just went wherever we were needed.
ANDY: …and loved every minute of it. Very simply put, it was the least we could do in response to the hard work that the students did.
LUPE: It was pretty much to spend time with Megan. We joined her in the journey. [Andy and I] had never known this; neither of us had been in a school band. We just figured you played concerts at school and that was it; we had no concept of the all-day Saturday marching competitions and the Friday football games, and then all the concert band competitions.
The band parents often brought shakers to band competitions to cheer on the band. Photo © Dave Shaver.
5. How do you suggest parents get involved with their child’s musical education if they don’t have a lot of time on their hands?
LUPE: Just watching the kids on the field and at performances. Engage in their after-school activities. Donating simple things like water or snacks can also help out a lot.
ANDY: The minimum is to attend the concerts and, in my opinion, the most important is the competitions. Just be there. Because then you get that reward of pride in your own child and their fellow band members and they get the opportunity to demonstrate their talents to you.
The band’s senior class at their last football game.
6. What has been the most memorable experience for you, individually?
ANDY: Seeing Megan, as a senior, standing on the football field surrounded by her senior friends as they all posed for a picture. Seeing them all together after the work they’d done was priceless.
LUPE: Seeing the last concert at the end of the school year where Megan got to conduct the whole band as they surrounded the parents in the audience and played the alma mater.
ANDY: OH! And then seeing Sophie and her middle school band performing at their first football game and thinking, “Wow, it’s all starting over again!”
I hope you all enjoyed this brief insight into the life of two band parents. While I’m sure every band parent has a similar story to tell, I would like to point out that, as their child, it was awesome to have my parents around because they fully bought into the spirit and culture of the band family. Every band event became a family outing, and there are very few experiences in education where parents can get that kind of hands-on involvement. It was never embarrassing or inconvenient to have them around; in fact it was the exact opposite. I highly encourage band parents out there to get involved in their child’s experience. It’ll make a world of a difference, not only to you and your family, but to the many other students involved in music education.
Photo credits go to Dave Shaver. Photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. No commercial use without permission.