Here's to the Band Kids — & How to Support Them

You probably didn’t realize that March was designated as “Music in Our Schools Month” (MIOSM) to celebrate music education. I certainly hadn’t until recently. While there are so many holidays at this point (literally one for every day), this recognition is really important. Music has touched my life and so many others’ lives, and we should support music education in schools nationwide.

As children, my sister and I were both forced by our parents to join our school band in 5th grade and stick with it for at least two years. It was almost humorous how much we hated it at first. With all instruments, the learning curve is steep and can be frustrating. Our band teacher would joke about our sound quality, saying that we sounded like dying farm animals, which, in retrospect, was quite accurate. However, despite the initial frustration of 5th grade band, we stuck it out and both continued band throughout high school and into college. For me, being in band wasn’t just about making music, it was about committing to an activity and building a community.

When I think back on band, I’m overwhelmed by all the memories I have: sitting in the hot bleachers watching in awe the (in hindsight mediocre) eighth graders playing The Incredibles, freestyling acapella songs in line at Disneyland, sharing a confused look with my stand partner and cracking up laughing, breathing gym, eating lunch on the band room floor, lining up at the edge of the turf field for a performance, sitting in the band room in my pajamas and listening to senior speeches, giving my own senior speech… I could go on. Band was where I found my second family and my second home. My band director focused not only on excellence, but also creating a sanctuary for everyone who wanted it.

I was lucky enough to have access to a well-funded and well-loved music program that boasted honors and jazz bands, as well as a 300 person marching band that traveled for competitions. However, many schools cannot say the same. Musical instruments are incredibly expensive and so are the many optional trips. Music shouldn’t just be available to the middle  and upper class, it should be for anyone who wants it.

Not only is band fun, but playing an instrument also helps your mental health. Music helps your cognitive development, increasing academic achievement and creativity. Playing an instrument also reduces stress, something we all need help with. These benefits should be accessible to everyone.

So, what can you do?

You can donate! You know how I mentioned that music isn’t equally accessible? Well organizations like the ones below are working to bridge the class gap. With your donations, they will fund school music programs and donate instruments to schools. There are many different organizations out there, so take your pick! If you can’t spare the money, you can encourage young kids to take up an instrument. When there is a larger interest, there will be better funding. Plus, everyone deserves to experience the magic of band once in their life.