Tell the World: Why I Love My Band!

Students, band directors, parents, alumni share their stories

The US Scholastic Band Association has been dedicated to the showcase of music in our schools for more than 20-years. From our grassroots efforts in New Jersey dating back to 1988, this organization has worked to support music programs every step of the way.

 As funding for music programs across the country falls under scrutiny, the USSBA is mobilizing current students, band alumni, band directors and parents to tell us what your band mean to you? This, along with other advocacy material, will be made available as a resource for music educators and supporters to spread their message.

Tell the world what your band means to you!

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My son ended his ninth grade year with 1 friend, dismal grades and plagued with depression. He was angry, withdrawn and sullen almost all the time. After four years of struggling with his mental health issues we were exhausted and worried.  In 10th grade he joined marching band and within 6 months he was a different person - or rather - he was the happy kid with the incredible sense of humor that I remembered from his early years. By the end of his 10th grade year he had a large circle of trusted friends, a social life and a much better attitude about his grades. While his recovery from the chronic depression that plagued him from 6th to 9th grade was part of a team effort, his band instructor and his band friends were big players on that team. Band is not just about music - it is about camaraderie and fitting in - a place to belong if you are not a jock or a genius but you can play an instrument. For my son finding a place for himself would never have happened without marching band. I believe the opportunity to participate and belong to something saved his sanity and helped him learn to enjoy life again. Just try and tell me that music and band programs are not critical to the academic and learning process!

Anonymous Parent 

I can honestly say that my experience at school would have been a whole lot duller (more dull?) and lonely without band.  I learned amazing skills through student leadership and many things about myself, and was surrounded by some high-energy, fun-loving people that didn't necessarily have to drink to have fun.  The busy schedule forced me to manage my time better (in fact I think my grades were better during the fall semesters for this very reason!).  I got exercise, fresh air, and mental stimulation.  I learned how to participate on a team, which is crucial for the business world.  I learned how to network, how to influence others, and how to do some awesome pushups.  Each fall I had an instant set of friends.
I still miss it today!

Melissa Harmon Belliard 

Some random thoughts about the current economic state of affairs as it relate to music, marching and other good stuff. 

We have all read the research on how music programs actually benefit academic performance with the so-called, “Mozart Effect", a term from  the 'research' by Campbell published in a book of the same name.  

We'll teach music because it improves math and special reasoning. On the other side of the coin, as responsible and conscientious practitioners, we want to teach music for its own sake - as exponents of the aesthetic.  That's a little altruistic. 

And there are certainly varying shades of gray between these two extremes.  But, for so many children, the band room provides an opportunity for them to experience success and develop a meaningful self image - true self esteem that is the product of hard work and accomplishment at a high level. 

I was not the greatest student in high school but was a member of a very active, progressive band program.  Being a member of this organization made me a better human being.  My attendance improved.  I took responsibility for my actions and learned how others came to depend on me and my contribution to the ensemble for our success.  I learned problem solving skills that directly translated into the "academic classroom" (being pre-NCLB, Music was not considered an "academic" as it has been till recently).  In fact, borrowing from the title of another book from the 1990's, "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in the Band Room".  I am certainly not alone. 

Of course, involvement in this program provided me with that "mountaintop experience" that all musicians can relate to; that moment in a performance when everything clicks and the whole becomes exponentially greater than the sum of the parts.  I was hooked:  I still recall that moment and that feeling and thinking, "What could be better than this?"  This was my entry into music making that resulted in wanting to be a band director. 

I am now completing my 30th as a music educator, and we have enjoyed great advances in our status within the education environment.  As a judge in the marching band activity, I calculate that I have spoken to well-over 10,000 students last year alone about the art of making music:  making diagnostic and prescriptive comments on tapes about musical performances in the marching venues to improve performance has become, like being a teacher, a calling.  However, failures within our economy threaten to once again relegate music and music education back to the "dark ages." 

As a judge in the marching band activity, I calculate that I have spoken to well-over 10,000 students last year alone about the art of making music:  making diagnostic and prescriptive comments on tapes about musical performances in the marching venues to improve performance has become, like being a teacher, a calling.  Most of the band kids are also taking honors courses, are in student government, school newspaper, Key Club, National Honor Society, etc., they are the shakers and the movers within the school and those programs too are threatened by this "circle the wagons and prepare for the worst" thinking.  As students, parents and teachers, it is time to stand up for the programs that promote and create success for our young people. 

I can and have judged for many organizations.  I believe that USSBA is truly about helping kids develop into magnificent human beings and that is a philosophy that is or should be in concert with education.  

Just because Band isn't "Tested," it doesn't naturally follow that it is not important.  Success in the band room and on the field is a true expression or synthesis of ALL learning used to create a high level product.

Dr. Thomas P. Siebenhuhner
Instrumental Music Specialist, Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy Elizabeth, N.J.

When I look at my past all my best memories are from my high school band.  I was always the athlete growing up around my friends but once I hit high school it was music that took over my life.  I grew up wanting to be a physical therapist or psychologist, being the kind of person that wanted to help others. 

Once I started band I had continued with sports such as baseball, bowling, basketball, and volleyball, I was even captain of the state champion bowling team as well as the baseball team.  It was band that I truly loved though, and it was band that made me the person I am today.  My band director, Neil Forte (Hazleton Area High School) was like a second father to me, a role model, and now a friend, not to mention an amazing teacher (in school and life).  

Marching band got me out there and allowed me to experience so much more than I ever could have imagined.  It sparked my interest in local music and I also started singing in local punk bands.  With all of that said I also become Drum Major my senior year.  I also look back and I met my 3 best friends in band and we are still best friends today.  We all attend different colleges now and one in the Air Force but whenever we're all home we make it a point to see one another multiple times over our breaks.  Even my casual friendships were very strong in band and we tend to make plans as well because of our common love of music. 

As stated above I planned on being a Physical Therapist or Psychologist.  Well, I am currently a sophomore at Lebanon Valley College as a Music Business Major with a concentration on Baritone Saxophone.  If it wasn't for my high school Marching Band I would have never recognized my passion in music and would have given up on it, thinking I was never any good.  I now realize it doesn't matter how good you are, it's how much you love something that makes you push to do it.  High school marching band got me into local music and live music and I plan on opening a music venue for all ages and all styles of music upon graduation and also continue what I am doing now as a part time independent booking agent. 

I am the Lebanon Valley College Drum Major as well, am President of several groups on my campus, take other leadership roles in others, am in a touring Ska/Reggae Band where I play multiple saxophones, sing, and book all of our shows and tours, and I have all of this thanks to the, now suffering, music program in my high school.

Thank You for trying to save what created the rest of my life for me.

James Johnathan Haraschak
Lebanon Valley College
Music Business '12

Hi, my name is Kyra and I play top bass for my band, we are an extremely small school in Texas. My favorite part of band is all the great friends I make, and the other people I meet at competitions. 

Band is my absolute favorite part of my day, and though it may sound nerdy, all summer I look forward to summer band camp. I hope my story helps out. 


Next to being raised by two unbelievable parents, music has been the most impacting thing in my life. Music has shaped me to be the patient, cooperative, passionate, loving, person I am.  To be passionate about music is to open your heart and thoughts to the world. There is an unspoken understanding among all musicians that music not only connects people all over the world, but that it connects those in our own community. Music gives people a sense of belonging, a way of communication, something to love in life and goals to work towards as musicians.

Growing up with band in my life has made me a truly remarkable person. Whether in the school classroom, on the track during after school sports, or in the field of speech therapy (my chosen career path). From an academic standpoint, my awareness of rhythms has given me logic skills and improved my math skills. If I told you math was my weak subject, you’d never know. From a professional standpoint, my ears are far keener in my college level classes. One day I will strive to be a great Speech Therapist in the field and I know that music has given me the potential to rise farther than others in the field.

My high school band was a family to me and my band director was like a second father. I keep in touch with all the musical people in my life merely because they are the nicest people and they are so easy to talk to and relate to on an intelligible level. Riding on buses to football games, finding my niche in high school, and becoming Drum Major of my band have been memories I will never forget. I will always continue to rise in the world because music has made me such an ambitious person. I’ve learned from band not only how to be a member of the band, but a leader as well. I make these statements with great confidence.

The fact that music programs are diminishing all over the country, especially in my home state of NJ, is so upsetting to me. With demolished generations of music will come less success in all fields. The only way to continue to raise the standards of achievements made today is to continue to enforce music and the arts.

Alyssa Berkowitz 

Being in the band has shaped my life. It helped me to make some really close friends: I still keep in touch with all of my friends from high school band -- and they will all be attending my wedding. It has given me confidence in myself: I have held many different leadership positions in the various bands that I've been a part of. It kept me out of trouble: when my peers were drinking in the woods, I was at band rehearsal. It decided where I was going to go to college. It has shaped my future: in less than a month, I will be marrying a man who I met in the marching band -- and we intend to encourage our future children to participate in band, assuming it's still an option in the public schools at that time. If schools continue to cut budgets for music departments, future generations will not have a chance to express themselves the way one can through music. I don't know where life would have taken me if I hadn't been part of the band, but I know that I wouldn't be nearly as happy as I am right now.

Diana Bingham

I Love My Band
When we step on the field

it's like a different world

our fate is sealed.

Whether the sun is shining

or the rain is pouring

first place is what we'll be finding.

Three days a week

four and a half hours each

we work on getting our technique.

Nothing can stop us when we're on a mission

we're aiming for that first place position. 

Many people have never won a medal

but with band everyone can settle.

Many people have troubles to get away from

band is a refuge

a place to come

to relax, lay back, and have fun. 

I Love My Band

and that's a fact..

no one's going to change that.

Anonymous Band Student 

I've been a member of the East Haven High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band for two years so far. I'm going to be a junior, so I'm looking forward to two more years. I'm in the color guard.

My Band/Color Guard means a lot to me because my mom and grandma were both in award winning Guards. I wanted to be just like them. So, when I got to High School I checked out East Haven's... needless to say I loved it.

We are now currently ranked 3rd in Division 2 for Color Guard. I couldn't be any more proud of myself and fellow guard members. We work so hard for competitions and aiming to be the best we can. We put A LOT of hours into it. By the end of the season, I've spent more time with my Color Guard and Band rather than my family. So, they're like family to me. We are so close knit and I couldn't ask for better friends.

However, I recently found out that our school board was cutting programs like crazy. They wanted to shut down the music program. All the band members and staff were extremely hurt by this. We have won the school so many titles and honors and we still get no respect.

If they shut my music program down I don't know what I would do. I would have nothing to do. Band motivates me to try new things and work for what I want. Our band director has taught us discipline; being on time, organizing your things, keeping the locker room and band room clean. In a way, band has prepared me for life outside of high school. I am ready to take on responsibilities like getting a job and going to college.

I want other kids to experience the happiness and fun of being in my marching band. We stick together and work together as a team, which is what kids need right now. If they cut the band program then incoming freshmen will never know what it's like to be in a marching band. They won't experience going to competitions or marching in parades. I would feel terrible if this happened.

Truly there are no words to describe how much my band means to me. But, you can see it when we're all together. You can see the joy and friendship. We forget our lives outside band and relax. This is our escape from being stressed as a senior or bullied as a freshman. We come to practice excited to start working on sets and making our performance the best, forgetting what happened at home or school that day.

We are unlike any other sport in the school. Our workouts are three to four days a week for 4 1/2 hours each day... not including the random group practices. We are probably the most dedicated people you'll meet while in East Haven, and we'd like to keep it that way.

I love my band... and those are only a few reasons why.


I was miserable, I hated school.

Luckily, I came across an audition date for the basketball pep band. At the beginning of my first rehearsal, all my views changed. From that point on, I joined the concert band, marching band, symphony band.  I can honestly say I love school now and it is entirely because of band. It is a place where all other problems go away. It has helped me with time management. It has helped me with social skills and leadership skills. Without this program and the people I have met through it, I would be lost.



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