Tips for Surviving and Thriving During Your First Band Camp

My son is a gifted saxophonist. He shined brightly in his middle school band, as well as in many regional competitions and festivals. Having no musical abilities whatsoever, my husband and I basked in his accomplishments without truly understanding the effort he put forth to achieve them. We assumed that the hour or two he stayed after school was all the commitment necessary to be a successful musician. Then he started high school and joined the band.

Holy Moly. I had NO idea what participation in marching band entailed! Practices started the week school ended and have been increasing in intensity ever since. Now weve moved into the final stretch of summer and BAND CAMP is upon us. Having been through football camp, baseball camp, cheer camp, dance camp (you get the idea), I thought I was somewhat prepared. I was not. Band camp requires physical stamina, discipline and serious organizational skills- and thats just for the parents!

Freshmen are feeling their way through these first crazy weeks of band camp. The days are long, hot and tiring but lots of fun! Below are some tips to help your newcomer survive AND thrive!

Be sure to stay well-hydrated during the steamy days of band camp. Fill your biggest water bottle (we use a jug) with ice and water and be sure to refill often.

Eat well during these weeks. Hauling instruments around for eight hours a day is surprisingly rigorous and requires healthy meals and snacks.

Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are essential for long days in the sun. Lightweight shorts, comfortable shoes, and white t-shirts help as well. Fanny packs will help keep you organized while keeping hands free. If you arent a fan of the fanny pack, wear some cargo shorts to easily carry notecards, pens or other necessities.

Extra items that may be helpful include note cards on a spiral ring, chalk for marking placement, balm for chapped lips, extra instrumental supplies and a poncho (they cant all be sunny days!).

A good nights sleep is vital to making it through the long and strenuous days. This really shouldnt be a problem, though, as odds are good your freshman will fall into bed!

It seems the only thing longer than camp days is the time it takes to complete the paperwork! Its a never-ending barrage of consent forms, order forms, permission slips, medical forms, fundraisers and more. Keep control of the chaos by keeping everything in one central location (think office file, folder, etc.) and keep the due dates on a checklist on the front.

Freshmen will always have to pay their dues as band newbies, but upperclassmen are kinder than we think. Team up with one of the more seasoned participants for advice on how to navigate these new waters.

My rookie is currently in the thick of band camp and seems to be faring well, despite the arduous days. These few common-sense suggestions can help make the new recruits time in the trenches a bit more bearable!

A Symphony of Resources for Music Educators

Doesnt it always seem that the very best moments in life are accompanied by music? Making that life-altering trip down the aisle to Jeremiah Clarkes Trumpet Voluntary, listening to the crowd roar to life as the marching band plays the Friday night football game or holding your sweet baby in your arms as you hum a soft lullaby?

Music plays a paramount role in our daily lives. I reflected on this recently as my daughter nervously performed for the first time with 300 other 5th grade band members (thats more than half of the 5th grade class!) and my son rocked the audience with his 8th grade saxophone solo. Music has been an outlet for them, a place to shine, a way to build confidence. It is a critical part of our collective human experience and I am grateful that our district continues to value music education as a key part of the curriculum.

Music educators are pivotal to developing well-rounded, successful students. However, they are often overlooked when it comes to professional development opportunities or have limited educational materials available specifically to them. Take heart, though (insert cheerful trumpeting here!), weve pulled together some great resources unique to this audience!

One of the best ways to stay current with the pedagogy of music education is membership in a professional organization like the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). NAfME provides research and support to its members, offers professional development and acts as an advocate for music education. NAfME also holds a biennial conference, an exceptional forum for music teachers, researchers, administrators, program leaders and others to share the latest innovations in music. This years event will be held March 22-24 in Atlanta, GA- time to get registered!

Marching Band Trips by Kaleidoscope Adventures

Another great way to stay informed is networking with those who share a passion for music at events like The Midwest Clinic, an annual four-day music, band and orchestra conference. This premier gathering in Chicago, IL is the largest of its kind and more than 70 years in the making. All instructional and skill levels are encouraged to attend!

MEAs (Music Educators Associations) are available in most states and exist solely for the benefit of music educators. Many boast resources, curriculum, conferences, webinars, festivals, scholarships and a plethora of helpful information.

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel


Websites like Group Travel Odyssey and Kaleidoscope Adventures are chock full of travel ideas geared directly to music educators who travel with students for workshops, performances, parades, festivals or shows. Travel is an outstanding way to explore music in all its forms.

Finally, dont discount the power of social media! Sites like smartmusic, Music Educator Resources, and Mrs. Miracles Music Room have superb blogs packed with ideas and information for music educators.

Music provides the soundtrack to our lives, and music educators are the artistic engineers. Just as our 5th grade band director has inspired hundreds of young people to explore an interest in music, there is a symphony of ways to inspire and support the efforts of these key players in our childrens education.