Should You Make Your Child Take Band If He Says He Does Not Want to Anymore?
January 10, 2010
My son is starting highschool in just a few weeks. He has been playing saxaphone for the last two years in middle school and has some natural talent, but now he says he does not want to play in band any longer, my question is should we make him? He has always had a very hard time in school and has never really liked it, so band was the one place where he had some sucess. My fear is that he will not be engaged in any other clubs or activities. He is pretty shy and has been bullied alot the last several years from kids at school. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
WOW, First Thank You all for your great support and imput, I had no idea I would get so much great advice. WE have sat down and had many talks since I first posted the question and he has decided that he will try Jazz band for a semester and then if he still really wants to quit we will let him. I am really hoping and praying that he likes it and will continue to play. I am sure I will be posting more questions in the future. You all are a great source of support and information. Thank You again. J.
Hi! I was a band kid but I don't remember if my parents made me do it or not (it was more than many years ago!). But, some schools have jazz bands and if his school has that, he should maybe try out for that. It has a different feel from being in band and would still give him a built-in group of friends.
Fine arts is a requirement in school. If he doesnt want to play music, perhaps he can study the great masters and composers. Or he may wish to go toward some other creative outlet. Perhaps a new instrument?
I ask him to at least try Band. Band in High School is really different and I was a popular person but also played in the band and I have friends to this day that are former band members and non band members. High School band members are very close because they spend so much time together playing at the football games, going to parades, playing at the Pep Rally's and other extra things. He will make a lot of friends. If he doesn't like it he can always quit after the first year, but I doubt that he will. At least he can try it first. I will never forget my "band" years. Good Luck!
I would first make sure that he really doesn't want to play band anymore. Being bullied in school is so incredibly painful that maybe he thinks he won't get bullied anymore if he quits band. If he truly doesn't want to, I wouldn't make him. I would only insist that he find something that he loves to do and do whatever that is. Also, since he was bullied, I would have him enroll in a self-defense, karate etc. classes to gain confidence and tools for him to use if he needs to stick up for himself. You will be completely amazed at how he will blossom. Good luck!
My son was in band from 4th grade through high school (and he also played the saxophone). Since he was both a scholar and an athlete, he didn't have much in common with lots of the kids in band, but he did have a good time with them on band trips, etc. The kids in my son's high school band really seemed to help each other, and it is one of the few classes where freshmen can easily socialize with upper classmen and in which you will know most of the kids from one year to the next. However, if he really doesn't want to be in band, it is probably not a good idea to force him--that could lead to rebellion. You might try to contact the high school band director to see if they have a band camp starting next week--my son's high school had a week of band camp the week before school started. See if your son could attend band camp--that might make him realize how much fun band can be. However, be sure the band director knows that your son is strongly thinking about not taking band, and ask if the band director can assign a "big buddy" (perhaps an older student in the saxophone section) to show him around the school and help him get used to the school and also get him excited about all the trips, etc. that the band does during the year. My son's band went to four or five band competitions every year and also played at all home and some away football games. They also played at some home basketball games and played at least two concerts during the year. They also had at least one weekend trip a year (Disneyland, Oregon, etc.). Also, I don't know if it would help, but it might be good to remind your son that band is about the only subject in which he will have practically no written homework--just practice (and if he has a natural talent, he probably won't need to do much practicing).
You might want to clarify with him whether he doesn't want to take Band, but does want to continue to play saxophone, or whether he wants to quit playing music.
You might be able to negotiate with him--- for example, you would let him quit Band if he wanted to take individual sax lessons, or you would let him quit Band if he had some other extracurricular activity you approve of to replace it with.
Our daughter was in a similar situation as yours. Flute player from third grade through seventh (quite good, A Band/Honors all the time) and asked to drop band in high school. She always struggled in school because she was hearing impaired and had an auditory processing disorder, and received a lot of tutoring and outside assistance. After much discussion, we decided to allow her to drop band to focus on her studies. This was really hard for me in particular because I was a life-long flute player and we practiced her band music together. It was definitely the right decision. School work for her in high school, and the transition in general, was much more difficult than anticipated. There are lots of activities / groups in schools to choose from, and our daughter found her way. She is starting nursing school in about 10 days. Good luck
I agree that you don't want to force your child to do something they don't want to do, but in most cases junior high band is very different from high school band. Your son my not realize the opportunities he is going to get and the possibility of belonging to such a tight knit group.
See if he can try the class for a few weeks or I saw the posting about band camp. That would be a great way for him to meet the other band members and make some new high school friends.
Hi, I took a VERY quick look at the answers you got and didn't see what I thought was a good idea. Find out WHY he doesn't want to continue. For example: He could have fallen out of love with the sax in which case, perhaps he would be willing to try another instrument. He has found another activity he prefers, so you may be out of luck keeping him playing. He has decided that he doesn't want to practice as much as he needs to keep up with everyone. Depending on WHY he wants to quit, you can make a more informed decision on how to handle the situation.
I have taught piano for nearly 20 years and have found that kids that want to learn/practice/play are the ones that do the best. Some family dynamics are such that even an unmotivated kid can do well because he does what his parent wants while others that are unmotivated do poorly due to parents being unable or unwilling to push to get the required practice with concentration. My opinion is that if a kid doesn't want to learn music, he shouldn't be forced simply because it kills love of making music later. Kids forced to learn generally abandon the instrument as soon as they are able. It was always a privledge not a requirement for me to have lessons. (off the soapbox now)
Anyway, this ended up kind of long, but back to the beginning it makes a difference WHY your son wants to quit. When you know that, you will know better what the best decision will be. Best wishes.
I recall my older brother telling me, when I was in 8th grade band, that if I decide to join the marching band in HS, I'll be considered a "band geek", so I didn't. I always regretted that decision because the kids who were in band, had fun trips and they were better students overall. I'm sure if your son is being bullied, he's worried about being picked on as a "band geek". One alternative that worked for my niece and nephew was to join the jazz band, a cooler choice in the eyes of teens. Another idea is to take him to hear some jazz at a hip spot in SF to encourage him to stay with it in some capacity.
Two years is enough time for him to tell whether or not he enjoys playing an instrument. It is such a time commitment that making him do it if he doesn't want to is really asking a lot. Of course that wouldn't be my answer if it was math!
Plus, you should allow him to make some decisions for himself. There is some evidence that making good decisions is a learned skill. He should be deciding who he wants to be at this age. Band also comes with a social identity (band geeks) that he might not think suits him or may even make him a target for bullying.
One of the interesting things about teens is how they can have such radical shifts in identity and style. Beginning HS is one of those times where they have the chance to start over with who they are and who their friends are. Give him the room to experiment.
The question is why does he REALLY want to quit? From what you have already said, it sounds like there might be some underlying reason that you need to address more & decide if that reason is a "good" one. As someone already mentioned, jr. high band is different from high school, so you may want to find out his true reasons to help determine whether to make him continue or not. As a high school teacher of freshmen & sophomores, I cringe at the thought of a student giving up an extra-curricular activity, especially one that is so strong. It is so important to his success at school to get involved! What I might suggest is asking him to take a longer trial period (a semester to a year) to make sure that he really wants to quit - that way he won't have any regrets. If he does quit, there are so many other activities & clubs he can try that you might require that he find one to stick with (drama club tends to be a very accepting group & he doesn't have to be on stage since he is so shy...he can do backstage work). Good luck!
I would first find out why he doesn't want to take band anymore. It sounds like he's had a hard time socially and kids tend to be even ruder to the "band geeks". You should find out if that has anything to do with it. If he is afraid of being ridiculed in highschool for being in band, I would try to convince him that he shouldn't worry about that. Especially since the highschool bands tend to be pretty big and there should be plenty of kids for him to connect with within the band. If he's just not interested in playing anymore, than I wouldn't try to force him.
I would let your son quit band, however, with a trade off. Tell him he has to chose something else and help him go through with it. Don't assume he will do it himself. At our high school (my 14 year old daughter is just entering as a freshman and dropped band too) activities and sports nights already happened. As our high school principal noted, this is not the time to let go of your teenager but the reverse. They need guidance right now just as they did when they were very young. He'll need you to get any paperwork ready to play sports as well as write the check since few schools in California have money for their teams. Whatever you do, don't just let him float along and become a "lost soul" at school. The more you engage in his adjustment to high school the better.
I would suggest really talking with your son about this. As far as "making" him take band, I would try to approach it more as a compromise. After all, he's invested a lot of time in learning to play the sax.
It's been my experience that high school band is a lot different than middle school band and that might be scaring him a bit, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps he could also learn percussion or the trumpet while he's at it.
I think the days of being labelled a "band geek" are waning. Being in the band is "cool".
I have a dear little friend named Justin.
He had cancer when he was a baby so he's much smaller than all the other kids. And, he walks kind of funny due to the multiple operations on one of his legs. He was teased and made fun of by kids who didn't know what he'd been through. He joined the music program in grade school. He had talent. Let me tell you, he joined band in high school as well and you would not believe the throngs of girls who went to every concert, every performance, every football game....he had his own cheering section. Having known him since he was a baby, I could tease him. "Do they think you're Elvis, or what?"
He studied music all through high school, he plays 4 instruments, started his own band, enrolled in Humboldt State University right out of high school and is majoring in music. He wants to be a music professor and studio engineer.
Music brought him out of his shell and it's become his life.
Not all people will find the same love and passion for music, but it isn't something to just give up on.
My fear would be that if your son takes a year off, he might not pick it back up again. Plus, he'll get to travel with other band members and believe it or not, the "jocks" I've known always thought the band kids were pretty cool.
You can leave it up to your son, but just really have a heart to heart about it first.
As a mom who's son has benefitted from the music program and "auntie" to Justin, I hope your son will choose to stick with it.
Talking with teenagers is worse that pulling a chicken's teeth, but have you talked with him about WHY he wants to quit band?
As someone who really wanted to take music and band, but did not get to pick my instrument, I can him understand wanting to quit. I played trombone for 5 years when what I really wanted was the flute or piano. I finally convinced my parents to let me quit when I started High School.
Also, could it be so he has the opportunity to take other classes? I remember trying to fit it what I WANTED with with I HAD to take (to get into a good university) being tough in high school.
And as a parent of a bullied child (now teen), bullying can come from strange places and unexpected kids. Do you know where / who it is? Could it be someone in the band, in his section?
Personally, after paying close to $1k for my son's saxphone, we requested that he stay in band his first year of high school. He has found the high school band to be more rewarding and has met a whole new group of friends. Our HS band marches at football games and in local parades and they take field trips to professional performances scuh as Stomp and College Band Competitions. My son has found it hard to fit in all the classes he would like to take, but has worked successfully with his counselors to make his schedule work. He is also playing football, so it consumes most of his afterschool hours between the two, but he seems to love being busy. He is also a Boy Scout, wrestles and plays baseball.
However, I was a shy bookworm and got bullies and having grown up that way, I would definitely recommend insisting that he participate in some sort of extra curricular activity. I wish my parents had forced me to do something to be more involved and make friends...I left HS with one close friend. As one mama said, there is also jazz band, which is typically a smaller commitment, but keeps the music in their lives...especially if he really enjoys it. Good luck!
Maybe you could make a deal with him, have him commit to doing band for the first quarter to see how he likes it. After all, it will be a new teacher and program so maybe it will renew his interest. If he still doesn't like it, then meet with the counselor to see what other options there are.
I know it's hard when your kids quit doing something they appear to be doing well in, and I'm sorry he's had to deal with bullies. But I have found high school (at least so far, knock on wood) to be much better for my son than middle school was. Hopefully your son will find his niche, just keep encouraging him and loving him along the way :)
I was in a similar situation and I encouraged my daughter to try one year of band in HS. HS band is a little different than middle school. Now she is a junior and continued all 3 years because she loved it so much!
So, hopefully, he will take your advice and try one year!
Your son is still not old enough to make all his own decisions....let alone the best decisions. I would have him take band for the 1st semister and if he's not happy, he can quit and take a different class.
You may already have this info, but just incase there is band camp and its happening right now...so maybe you can get him to go give it a try this morning.
Westmont High School Music Department
To provide the opportunity for our students to develop teamwork, leadership, and discipline while striving for excellence and greater appreciation of the performing arts.
Band Camp 2009
Monday August 10 through Friday August 14
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Welcome New and Returning Band and Color Guard Members
Drum Major: Kiarra Stanley
Westmont High School's marching band has consistently done well in Northern California Band Association (NCBA) and Western Band Association (WBA) competitions. Past shows with a short list of notable awards are as follows:
· 1996: The Hunt For Red October
· 1997: The Mask
· 1998: Music For A Darkened Stadium
· 1999: Cirque Du Soleil
· 2000: The Wall
· 2001: Gangster's Suite
· 2002: Adventures on Earth
· 2003: El Tigre: 1st Place at Vintage Reserve Field Show Competition (Class C)
· 2004: Africa - Sight, Sound, and Movement: 1st Place at Cupertino Band Review (Class 3), 1st Place at Independence Field Show (Class C), Percussion Caption at Gilroy Show (Class A)
· 2005: The Outsider: Music from A Perfect Circle: 2nd place (Class C) at Independence Field Show
· 2006: Chess: The Musical: 2nd Place at Cupertino Band Review (Class III), 2nd Place at Independence Field Show (Class C), 2nd Place at Foothill Band Review (Class D), 2nd Place Auxiliary Caption at Foothill Band Review (Class D)]
· 2007: Feels So Good: The Music of Chuck Mangione:1st place at Independence Field Show (Class C), 2nd Place at Foothill Band Review
(Class C), 2nd Place Brass Caption at Independence Field Show
Each year, Westmont High School's marching band also participates in the Los Gatos Christmas Parade. In 2004,2005, and 2006 Westmont took 1st place in the parade for the small band competition.
The band is currently taught by Mr. Dan Naylor
PS...I pray God will strengthen your marriage and family.
This is a tough one.......if you make him, he could HATE Band forever. Plus, because of his age, he will resent you for a very long time.
It's hard enough to have teenagers in the home, but then to have him THINK they can make their own choice is even more difficult on us parents.
A rule in my house is to always have "balance" in High School. Like you, I thought if they "struggle" in school, then they are still doing something they love to do, AND feel good about themselves. I continued this mind-frame when they entered High School. I made my kids have an extra-cirricular activity. It could be anything they wanted....but they had to see it through to the end, no quitting. Most extra-cirricular activities are less than half of the school year, so it doesn't last forever.
I believe in "extra-cirricular" in High School. It's where there "teenage life" happens. That is where they meet friends with the same interests, and simply have social lives at school.................. so I made it a rule!
Plus, the more involved the kids are, the eaiser it is to keep track of them and their friends. Teenagers get SOOOOOOO independent!
My vote.....let him out of Band, but tell him that you "require" him to have an extra-cirricular activity or sport. He can choose, then research the options together.
I agree with the person who suggested the bargain - try it for one year.
Frankly, if he's worried about the nerd factor, quitting band won't fix it.
And if he is shy and goes into high school with no group activity he may end up more solitary than before.
The only exception I'd make would be if the bullying has been going on in band
(Which seems unlikely, but all things are possible.0
Another possibility, depending on where you are, is something like Winds Across the Bay (google it).
It's really fun, and really supportive of its members - my very shy daughter loved it.
It's miserable to be made to do something you really don't want to do. My parents made me play basketball and I HATED it. As soon as I could, I quit and have never regretted doing so.
Like a lot of the other moms said, it might be that he doesn't want to be teased for being in Band. I can't blame him. If he enjoys playing the saxophone - why not let him join a jazz band outside of school? Or just take lessons? You should encourage the love of music, but being in front of a big audience AND getting teased on top of it would be too much for anybody!
I think your concern is valid that he should be involved in some kind of activities or clubs. You could tell him that he must be involved in some kind of activity and let him choose what kind. If he can't think of anything on his own, then pick something for him like visitng with nursing home residents every week, or walking dogs at the SPCA. Lots of places need volunteers; he doesn't have to be involved at school to be interacting with others.
I think I hear this in some of the other responses, but want to re-state it.... check out on what you said about him having been bullied. That sounds to me like a big part of the problem he's having with band. It's been said many times that the junior high years are hardest, and I think that's true. But, moving up to high school can be a scary thing for a shy kid too. He may need some encouragement to at least try it out and then, if he really doesn't want to stick with band, have an 'out'. I think I would have a talk with the band instructor at his high school as well as with a school counselor. It sounds like you and your son need these people to be on his side and understand what's going on in his life... again because of what you said about the bullying.
I would suggest you strike a deal with your son. He may be fearful that, as a freshman, he won't be good enough compared to the older musicians. So maybe he sticks with the sax for his first year of HS to test the waters. He probably will discover that it's really an ok activity to keep up. Especially since you say he's shy and doesn't readily get involved in school activities, having something that he's already familiar with (band) will ease his transition to HS. I spent most of HS years in the bandroom, and have lifelong friends and great memories from that experience. If he has a natural talent for music, I'd find a way to get him to stick with it...not forcing him to do it, but coming up with a fair plan that he'll buy into that lets him try out music in a different school environment. Music is such an important part of our kids' education, and he's already got a headstart with it. Try not to lose ground. He'll thank you for it later (as we hope they'll do with all our choices, right!) Good luck!
Wow that is a tough one. Maybe he feels he will be picked on more being in band. I was in the band and color guard in HS. I gained a lot of friend from there. So maybe you could ask him to try it for one year and the reconvene with him and decide if it is something he truly hates or if he ends up liking it. I didn't want to do band, but my best friend wanted a friend with her so I did it. The band shows and things like that were actually really fun. So maybe if you could come to an agreement for a year and then after the year is over discuss if he likes it or not. My parents pushed me into a few things that I really didn't want to do, but thank them to this day for pushing me.
Sorry just noticed Ginny's response. I just want to let you know HS band is MUCH different than grade school band.
As someone who has been married to a high school music teacher for over 20 years, I'd encourage your son to continue with band. It's such a great activity and he will make so many friends in band. Our daughter plays the flute and piccolo in her dad's band, and really loves it. She went into high school not knowing many kids as we were new to the area, and she's made great friends in marching and symphonic band. I met my husband in our high school band almost 30 years ago, and we're still together. I would encourage it with your son. Good luck!
A lot of kids get teased BECAUSE they're in band. Maybe if you have a student/parent/band teacher conference in which you ask for some moral support and advice for your son, he might feel better. There might be a way for him to feel fortified when he faces the teasers. Also maybe you could get him into a martial arts class as well, where he might get enough confidence to blow the teasers off completely. And being a black belt might impress them enough to just back off in the future. Good luck. I know how awful it can be to receive that garbage. It can seriously undermine your confidence.
My son played trombone in Middle school. One day he came to me and said he wanted out of band. I asked him why? He said he just wanted out he didn't feel happy anymore. Me personally I wanted him to stay in band, because he's very gifted in music. I looked at my son and asked how do you feel when you enter in to the band room. He says the smile that he had outside of the band room disappears when he enters into the band room. "I" wanted him to be in band. That's not me in the band room that my son. Sometimes people just loose intrest in things. Yes we want to push our children but there other way your child could still practice with a private tutor. Or learn to play by ear. Sometimes if they are real good at playing. Try letting him play at a place where he could see that he could get paid for playing that instrument or be seen personally playing the instrument. Like a tallent show or church or try to put out a cd playing the instrument he loves, and sell it to friends and family. That may keep intrest in playing to see how far playing a musical instrument can really take him. Hopes it helps.
That is so tough...I don't have a teenager...so it's hard to try and give advice, so I thought I'd just share my thoughts and experience. I was in the orchestra all through middle school. When I went to high school I stopped it because I thought I would be a "nerd" if I kept playing violin. Of course now, that I'm in my 30s, I really wish I had kept with it! It may have expanded into other things. I wonder if maybe you could talk to him about just playing one more year? Or semester? Just so he can see if he still likes it, etc? He may want to stay with it after that. I hope this all works out for you all :-)
Did he say why he does not want to do band? Is he worried about highschool band being harder or different kids? I would try and talk to him and see why he doesn't want to do it. If he has good reasons, it should be his choice. but maybe he would consider trying it in highschool for a semester. Maybe if he continues to be bullied and has few friends you may consider enrolling him in Karate after school. It really helps kids deal with bullys (they don't get into fights, they learn how to deal with difficult people and not get pushed around)
I know its hard being a teenager, tell him it will get better
A couple of thoughts here....in HIgh School, band kids are considered nerds, and your son may not want to be grouped in that category. Let me just start by saying I was a band nerd for the first 3 years in HS, and the commitment on top of the time at school and the group of kids- which are not bad- is pretty intense. There is probably a reason he doesn't want to be in it anymore, but I don't think you should let him give up on music.
If you can afford it, enroll him in an after school music program- or get him into a private lesson- instrument of choice, like the guitar, piano, singing lessons, or even a continuation of the saxaphone. Then, let him choose one of 2 art or theater classes/clubs that he can be involved in. If he wants to play sports, let him choose one sport and one daily art class to keep his mind stretched in all the right places. It's a fair trade and still lets him have some of what he wants. But a parent knows what is best and I will say that music in a child's life makes a HUGE difference in their behavior. My mother did not force us, but the option was always "what" instrument do you want to play, no "do" you want to play. It was the same with reading a book, taking dance, playing a sport, etc. She and my dad gave us choices that they had searched out and we chose one. Even though high school and the beginning of college. The key may be not only letting him choose one of two, but asking him to help you research a couple of things that he can choose from. This way he is involved in the process and really taking some responsibility as far as making decisions about the things he likes and can do.
I hope this helps!
My grandson has decided the same thing. Support him in his choice but give him options like private lessons or maybe he can go back to band next year, if he chooses. This as you know is a difficult time in a persons' life. Go along for now, assuring him you support him and will also help if later on he thinks he made a mistake.
I am a family therapist who specializes in teens and their families and I would recommend that you share your concerns with your son, then leave the decision up to him. Adolescents need practice making their own decisions while it's still safe to fail. Good luck!
My son has a similar story. Trumpet for two years in middle school, started marching band and hated it in 9th grade. Quit band and hasn't touched his trumpet in four years. Kind of shy too. He doesn't miss band at all but wished he had been more involved in other extra curricular activities. Now he has graduated and is kind of a computer nerd with a very small group of friends. I would suggest to your son to pick something new he thinks might be fun. High school is a great place to try new things for a short period of time and move on if you don't like it. I wouldn't force anything on him as he will resent you for it. Time to cut an apron string and let him find his way. However make sure he attends his prom and sober grad night or that is something to regret forever. He can always take the Sax back up as an adult. Best wishes!
Greetings Jeannie: You made several very strong statements, so I know you have alot going on and not just one issue.
About Band. The music programs in many schools are going so you may have a non issue. I would like you to talk to him about the fact that no matter where he is music is the one gift that a person can shine in and if they are good at it they can always have an income when others are out of work. My 5 children were all told they had to learn one instrument, besides the piano and to join a school activity of some kind. High Schols have dozens to choose from. This is a time in their lives when they are surrounded by a sea of teens and still are lonely. Joing the choir, band, a club gives them a chance to meet and interact with other kids even if they don't talk much outside of the class or meeting. The best thing one son did was join the Sign Language class and club. The rule was firm by the group- no one is ever left out so when he didn't get anyone willing to go to the prom with him ( he is so shy he is amazing) the group from ASL found one of the girls that wanted to go as well and boom problem solved. They were wonderful!!!
Jon, had a band teacher, at Castro Valley High, that encouraged, enriched his love for music, and got him to love the precussion instruments. When he has a bad day he will spend time with his piano, drums,clarinet etc. This same teacher was his strength when his father was ill and spent so much time in the hospital then passed away. Again the gift of music was his way of expression. I have a cousin, that because of her music skills has been able to support herself and her family while doesn't work. She plays for the schools plays, churches,weddings,funerals, and private lessons & makes enough to cover all the expenses where her husband can't right now. You might also remind your child to watch any Tina Turner music video- who is the guy that everyone wants to hear & see -- the sax. I know several young men who play just because the girls went crazy for it.
I know that marriage is not always easy nothing worth while ever is-but I hope that you will continue working on it and give it all your best efforts. After 40 years of being with my husband smile yes we went to the prom to gether and if I had wanted him to die I could have found many reasons to do it myself likewise him about me. But I miss every day now that he is not here. So I hope that you will be able to do what it takes to make it work.
Take Care of Yourself and Be Patient, Nana Glenda