Everyone has a passion for something. For the last 8 years, band has been my passion. For the last 8 years, my family, homework schedules, and social life have revolved around band practices, concerts, and football games. Band has been the one thing I have been consistently able to progress in over the years, while still enjoying it as much as I did the first time I touched a pair of drumsticks. Never in the past 8 years did I think I would ever quit band... I thought I'd grow up to become a band director and never have to miss band, but that day came at the beginning of my second semester of college.
Band, to me, was more than just an extracurricular activity. It was a sport- a team sport. A team sport where your team was your family and your family was your whole band. Being in public school meant that a lot of my friends from middle school band went on to join the same high school band as me. And those who didn't I always saw when our schools rivaled one another at football games. We never forgot each other and always cheered one another on during halftime shows. Once you're in band with someone, you're family. Part of that may come from the literal part every individual plays in the band while performing, and part of that may come from the countless hours spent rehearsing, setting drill, and performing together. Either way, my band family was my team and we won every time we performed because we had yet another incredible experience together as a family.
Another amazing thing about band was watching my friends grow. I watched kids who could barely walk and chew gum at the same time go from being uncoordinated to being the best marcher on the field. I watched people go from last chair to reigning first chair for all of high school. I saw friends go from weak horn players to section leaders who led dozens of other students at a time, all while maintaining their own sanity and good playing techniques. I think for me, the greatest thing was going from a not so strong percussionist to a well-seasoned bass drummer to a drum major. Being drum major of 147 high schoolers has been, by far, one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had. Instead of only getting to watch individuals grow, I got to watch the whole bad grow as a whole. I got to see what it's like (somewhat) from a director's perspective and learned so much more than I would have if I had not been drum major. I'd never take my band experience back for anything.
While I'd never take it back or regret it, I did come to realize that my band experience would end eventually. I did one semester of college marching band (which was absolutely incredible) and realized that I was spending time doing band (an optional course for me once I changed majors) during time that I could be working and making money to pay for school. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am 99% on my own with finances and every bit of work I can take is crucial for me. Paying for college is hard. It's unnecessarily expensive. Once I sat back and looked at just how much college would cost me, I realized I needed to work more. Like my dad always says, "You only have one pie to slice. If you cut one slice bigger, the next slice will be smaller." Band was my big slice. It was my passion and my priority. I didn't want to cut it out. But I was in band because I was in school- and if I couldn't pay for school, I wouldn't be in band... So I reluctantly quit band and started working more.
I'm finally at a somewhat stable financial standing, and I'm transferring to a community college where the financial burden will be a little lighter... but I still miss band. I miss the memories and I miss the family. I miss the way I could watch my friends from years ago continue grow doing something they love. I miss the unity and the team aspect of everything we did together, especially in college band. College band was a whole different animal that high school band but it was so much fun. I miss it all and I wish I could have it back in my life but "there's only one pie."
To anyone pursuing their passion, whether it be band or football or softball or dance or anything... enjoy it while you can because things don't always work out long term. Life happens. Life is what happens when we think we have a plan.