Like you, I see a lot of t-shirt themes and messages. Some are catchy. Some are thoughtful. A few are pretty disgusting. But this one made me pause a bit.
On those days when our marching band child is hot, exhausted, "worn to the bone" (as we like to say in Kentucky), thirsty, sore, feeling like nothing went right at rehearsal, and is ready to throw in the towel, are we, the parents, prepared to give them that hug and word of encouragement? Are we ready to be like the most firmly rooted trees, ready to take the strong winds of defeat and discouragement?
Even though all band students at times feel like they've hit that proverbial wall of where quitting appears to be a much easier solution than continuing, they look to us for that reason to go on.
Unfortunately we live in an age when life's many conveniences can fool all of us at times to believe we can earn our achievements, our honors, and our triumphs with little-to-no effort.
Sociologists often refer to the current younger generation as the "Entitlement Generation." Rather than living by the American value that hard work and sacrifice equal fulfillment, we have seen ourselves move to the belief that everyone deserves a trophy—whether they deserve one or not.
Thankfully, marching band as well as the other performing arts, do not follow this ill-advised social trend. Triumphs in band and more importantly, in life, do not come handed to us on a silver platter. We must work for them with a little blood, sweat and tears.
Marching band is one of the most grueling and fulfilling activities our kids could ever experience. In my book, it's one of the greatest testing grounds for what we hope our children will become one day—responsible, team-oriented, goal focused, and not to mention, full of character, integrity and joy.
My dad, who's long since retired as a band director, used to say that being in the band helped children better understand that it takes plenty of hard work, sacrifice, and a willingness to pull together to be successful. This sounds like a pretty good recipe for a successful life, if you ask me!
So the next time your band student is feeling a little discouraged, give them a big hug, a word of encouragement, and some added "umph." I guarantee you'll triumph together!
For nearly 30 years Marc Whitt has led a distinguished career in higher education public relations and marketing, and has long been an active advocate for the performing arts and economic development. Marc serves as Associate Vice President for Public Relations at Eastern Kentucky University and is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Communication where he teaches PR. Marc is engaged in supporting the arts. He is a member of the EKU Center for the Arts Board and designed and teaches the EKU service learning course, "PR in the Performing Arts." He helped establish the Madison Community Band, where he plays trumpet and serves on its Board, and is involved with the National Association of Music Parents. An honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, he assisted with its national recognition of the band, CHICAGO. In recognition of his service to promote music education, Marc received the "2010 Kentucky Music Educators Association District 11 Friends of Music Award."