Band Directing: A Family Affair

Truth: The life of a band director is very similar to that of an athletic coach (because, marching band is a sport, right?). Think about it for a few minutes. Getting a group of students to work together and perform complex techniques. Coordinating band uniform and equipment needs. Daily practices in preparation for a performance. Traveling to band contests and events each week in the fall and throughout the year. Fund raising. Band Recruiting. Film Study. Score study, which is more complex than a playbook at times. Early mornings and late nights. All while you are still practicing your craft and improving as a musician. Believe it or not, being a band director it is not teaching 55-minute classes and leaving at 3pm.

J Corey Francis, Family
Francis Band Family

With this type of schedule, time with the family can be hard to come by. Being a husband and father of two girls, making my family a priority during the year-long schedule of tasks has been difficult, but the reward huge. Here are a few ways to make your job a family affair.

  1. Allow your family to be visible during the year. This can have two major impacts: your family gets to see you do what you love, and your students get to see you in a different way. Let’s be honest. Many of the students that we work with over the years come from families that are broken from divorce, abuse, or parents not being there. Seeing your family and your interaction with them can break down walls and help students build better relationships.
  2. We often take our jobs too seriously. Not sure about you, but I started to play saxophone because I thought it would be fun. I grew up listening to Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, and Paul Desmond with my dad. Never did I think about the work involved, simply the fun. When my girls come by rehearsals, I smile. I relax a bit and remember the fun. This leads to less stress in rehearsal and to a more relaxed and focused ensemble.
  3. Let your family help! I am fortunate to have a great wife that wants to be part of the process. She was in color guard in high school and understands the work involved. She is also a cosmetologist. Perfect! She can help with color guard hair and makeup. Maybe your spouse has abilities and talents that make them perfect for getting involved. If not, they can help serve water in the stands or be responsible for plumes. If they are great at Microsoft Excel, have them help with the databases for inventory or personnel. (NOTE: Each school district may have requirements for spousal help, whether it is background checks, non-payment, or lists of things they can and cannot do. Please, make sure you review those before your spouse helps.)
  4. Step away from the band! Sometimes, you just have to say no to an extra rehearsal. You need to give back time to the band students and to your family. They work hard and give up so much for this activity. The most valuable resource we have is time, and setting aside time to be a family will have a greater impact on you, your family, and your students than that extra rehearsal.

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