4th grade is that right of passage year in our school district when the kids can finally join band.
We don’t have orchestra in our district, so a band instrument is the only option as far as in-school opportunities go.
When I was a kid, I started playing when I was around nine years old. I took lessons for four or five years, and then in middle school I added in orchestra, and I played violin. I was also swimming year-round and playing travel soccer and softball.
I was pretty busy.
Eventually something had to give, and as it so often happens, piano was the first to go, followed by the violin.
In hindsight, I wish I had kept up the piano.
But I still have visions of picking it back up again when all the kids are out of the house and I have some more time at my disposal (and space for a piano).
I wanted to be one of those families where everyone learned how to play the piano.
We actually had one that I scored for free on a tag sale sight a few years ago, but all it did was take up real estate and the only time anyone ever “played” it seemed to be during nap time.
So we got rid of it.
And I let go of those Hansen/Partridge Family/Osmond/Jackson dreams of having a super musical family.
They wouldn’t play the pian0.
Or the guitar.
But at least there would be band.
Number 1 played the trumpet. He played all the way through high school.
Number 2 played the clarinet. He switched to the drums I middle school, but eventually he started to not like it, so he stopped.
Number 3 played the drums. For one year. He was actually very talented, but he just didn’t love it, so he stopped. But at least he gave it a try.
Number 4 played the saxophone. She lasted until 6th grade when she found herself in a similar situation to the one I was in when I was a kid — too many activities and too much stress.
But at least she had given it a shot.
So this year I waited with eager anticipation to hear what instrument Number 5 would choose, and she chose…..
To NOT participate in band.
She didn’t want to play any instrument.
She played the unavoidable recorder in 3rd grade, and she hated it.
She was certain she did not want to do band.
I was not so certain.
First, the 4th grade band teacher at her school is AMAZING. She’s fun and funny and smart and super enthusiastic and she makes you love being in the band.
She might have even made Number 5 love being in the band.
Plus, there’s all the data.
I mean, there’s all sorts of research and evidence that music makes your kid smarter and a better student and all sorts of other stuff, right?
Plus, WHAT KIND OF KID DOESN’T DO BAND IN 4TH GRADE?????
Well, my kid, obviously.
And lots of other kids.
I’ll be honest.
It took me a little while to be okay with this.
My crazy brain was thinking that my kids must seize every single opportunity ever presented to them, otherwise they will miss out on something.
I came to my senses after I asked Number 5 for the fourth time over the course of a week if she was absolutely sure that she didn’t want to just try for a year. She replied with a very assertive,
I DO NOT WANT TO DO BAND!!!
I finally listened to her and dropped it.
And you know what?
It was the best decision we could have made.
I’m not wasting money on an instrument rental. I’m not nagging anyone to practice an instrument.
And as much as I love my kids learning to read music and play an instrument, I’ll be honest.
I kind of hate going to elementary school band concerts.
So this is your reminder that your kids don’t have to do everything.
Even if you did it as a kid, they don’t need to be in band or do the same sport you did or be in girl scouts or whatever it is that all the other kids appear to be doing.
Less is more.
Your kids don’t have to do it all.
They will still be well-rounded, smart, talented, awesome human beings.
Even if they don’t play the flute or the trumpet or the clarinet or the saxophone or the piano.
And after all is said and done,
I guess something good came out of playing that f*&$ing recorder after all.