Middle School Band Concert

Or, my personal version of hell.

Both my boys are in the school band, Guppy in 4th (the first year kids can take it) and Drake in 6th. We recently had the winter concert for grades 5-8 (the boys attend a K-8 school), and when I dropped off Drake at the 6:15 call time for the 7:00 concert of the 5th, 6th, and 7/8 bands, I asked the band director if I could help in any way.

He asked if I would simply stay with the 6th graders in the band room, as they were the last to perform and wouldn’t be going on until about 7:45. I said sure, thinking that it might be nice to not have to sit through the others grades’ performances.

I wasn’t really doing the math, though. Because what I agreed to was staying in the small band room with an ebbing and flowing group of kids with instruments who were alternately tuning, practicing, running around, shrieking, gossiping, and more. Worse, there’s a back room to the main room, where some students would go to escape the cacophony, yet other students would join them and incite chaos and I’d have to shoo them all out of the back.

I was not the only responsible adult during that time. The computer teacher was also there to herd kids back and forth from their performance times, and I was in the room with another mother whom I didn’t recognize. Then she came up, introduced herself, said her kids had only recently started at the school, and began making small talk. After a bit, I told her, “I’m an introvert, and this whole experience is really overwhelming to me. I’m happy to meet you and talk but all the noise makes me feel anxious.” She said she was feeling the same way, and went outside the room to read on her phone, which freed me from the small talk but left me alone in the room to say things like: “Liam, does your sax belong on the floor?” or “Hey you, stop poking Ellen with your flute,” or “Adam, please stop choking David,” or “Keith, stop banging that bongo with a water bottle.”

So by 7:45, when it was finally time for the very restless 6th grade band to go on, I felt justified in leaving the room with them, and watching their performance from the wings.

When my husband G. Grod found me after the concert, he asked where I’d been. He and Guppy had watched the whole thing. I told him what I’d done.

“Why on earth would you agree to THAT?” he asked. “Do you not KNOW you? You are the worst person for that task?”

And thus I add middle school band concert to the pile of What Was I Thinking. Or, Mistakes Were Made; Lessons Were Learned. Or, “Wasn’t Sure It Was a Good Idea; Did It Anyway.”

In any case, I did learn a lesson, one that I hope sticks: be careful what I volunteer for. Middle school band is for those with iron constitutions and placid dispositions.

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