From The 13th Chair Trombone Player

THE13thChairPump up the volume

Music Parents. You've been selected to save the world. Pretty heavy, huh? Don't get overwhelmed though. It's not that hard (well, so I've heard). You're pretty good at it. I think we can all agree, music will save the world. And you?ve been saving music. Every time you hand-sew a choir robe at the last minute, you're a hero. Every contraption you build that can mount 13 drums and two anvils for the marching band, takes us another step towards musical utopia. Every dollar you spend on a piece of wood with a few wires attached to it and a set of horse hairs, saves six whales. Ok, not directly, but the young cellist playing it will one day grow up to be the greatest whale-saver of them all.

For far too long, each community has been on its own to create a parent organization to help support music, THE activity that will produce some of the most influential people of our time. Why have we waited to bring them together? It doesn't make sense. Music parent groups around the world have been doing amazing things for their kids. They've been fighting a tremendous uphill battle of budget cuts, “test teaching,” and let's face it, plain ignorance about the benefits of music as a major part of one's whole education (That's just as much the music community's fault as it is everyone else's). But now we can fight the battle together with a common goal to move some serious mountains.

I remember when I first fell in love with music parent groups. I recall my first year as an official band director (Not often, but for this article I'll bear it). They say you learn more your first year teaching than you do your entire college experience. Well, I learned more in my first year teaching than I did in my entire life and two previous lives (I'm pretty sure I was a ninja trainer and some sort of traveling puppeteer in Southern France). I walked into my first parent meeting not sure what to expect. At least three parents mistook me for a student. (At the time, that felt really embarrassing. I'd kill for that type of "mistake" now.) The head director began the conversation around some immediate needs. Fundraising, instrument replacement, the threat of looming district- wide cuts including the entire music program. You know, nothing big. I never felt more overwhelmed in my life. I'm not a sweater, but at that moment I wished I wore a few more layers of t-shirts under my new professional "teacher shirt" I picked up to look more, well...grown up. I'm also thankful I followed my own personal rule: Every day is a deodorant day.

At the end of the meeting I was thanking everyone for coming, trying to make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. A few parents came up to me as a group. One particularly large man, with a very intense mustache put his hand on my shoulder, looked deep into my rookie soul, smiled and said, "Don't worry, we gotcha."

And that year, they absolutely did. I was never alone in any fight. There was an unwavering loyalty that provided the confidence I needed to do my job. And even though I know they didn't do it for me, I'm forever grateful.

Parent groups are always a good thing for the overall education of our students. But MUSIC parent groups are on a whole other level. I'm just going to say it. When do you see science department parents giving up countless weekends, early mornings, and thousands of dollars only to come together to help build a movable, foldable stage that shoots glitter, can be hauled into a truck, then manually pushed across 50 yards of grass for a 12 minute performance only to take a four hour ride back on a school bus at 1am? More importantly, why would music parents choose do those things at the drop of a hat?

There's no better way to answer that question in an article written specifically for music parents other than this: You just get it. You get that your kids are going to be successful, enriched, experienced, confident, wiser, interesting, braver, more aware, empathetic, compassionate, tougher, reliable, happier, and yes smarter because they are involved in music. Sorry, but you just can't say that for Algebra. (Well, I guess you can try. Let me know how that goes for you.)

So WELCOME AMP! You've never been needed more than right now. I feel relieved you're here and more confident then ever. With any movement there's a need for a single vision. A simple idea that encapsulates the voices of many. When the world tells us it can't happen, a unified message rises up and says otherwise. Music parents have had that message. The world and whales need saving. I say, let's get plugged in together, turn down the “can't” knob...and pump up the darn volume 😉

DJ Corchin is author of the celebrated humorously inspiring Band Nerds book series including Band Nerds Poetry From The 13th Chair Trombone Player and The Marching Band Nerds Handbook. You can follow his blog The13thChair.com to catch his thoughts in real time. He was a featured performer in the first national Broadway tour of the Tony and Emmy award winning show, BLAST! where he was best known as the "unicycling trombonist." Now living and working in Chicago as a children's author, his other publications are available worldwide and include Sam & The Jungle Band, You Got A Boogie, The I Feel... Children's Book Series, and ThunderFeet. A former high school band director, he continues to be involved in music education through speaking events, competitions, and organizations such as AMP!  For more of his work please visit www.djcorchin.com. Mr. Corchin is an independent contributor so his views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of amparents.org.

One thought on “From The 13th Chair Trombone Player

  1. Thanks DJ and Dan Dougherty for the incredible blog post and awesome graphic! Looking forward to your next guest spot.

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