Fuck Playing Football, Start a Band Instead

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Don’t get me wrong, I love American Football, but I’m talking about the band, not the sport. Sports are cool, but I think music has just as much, if not more, to offer. Obviously I am biased – I’ve never been good at sports and have been involved with music for more than half of my life – but hopefully I’ll be able to convince you that music is a worthwhile endeavor for everyone, especially kids.

I started a band my freshman year of high school, and honestly it’s been my proudest achievement. I’ve been lucky enough to preserve my involvement with a band through the transition from high school to college, and I couldn’t be happier. Being in a band is not only fun and cool, it’s also challenging and rewarding. I’ve been able to develop as an artist, but I’ve also developed as a person, learning important and practical life skills, all while I enjoy myself. I’ve learned more from being in a band than I ever have from any sport.

I’d say one of the biggest things I’ve learned from being in a band is independence. Way more than just a hobby, being in band took up a huge space in my life, a space completely void of any adult supervision. I don’t really think many high schoolers have a space or an outlet like that – a space that’s entirely their own, where they “run the show.” Honestly, if you’re a kid in a band and want to be legitimate you gotta do everything yourself. (I suppose this is fitting with the term DIY, used commonly with small bands apart of the local scenes.) There’s no coach telling you what to do, no teacher helping you learn the ropes, and definitely no parents. It’s just you and your bandmates.

If you wanna play shows or go on tour, you have to send the emails. You have to reach out to people. No one is handing out shows to you. You gotta work hard, write music, practice until you sound tight, and put yourself out there. If you get rejected or can’t get the gig, try again. If you wanna record your music, you gotta find the means. Either in recording it yourself at home or finding someone. But then you gotta worry about money – who’s gonna pay for the recording space? And gear too. Music is expensive, and I know I always felt bad asking my parents to fund my musical endeavors ‘cause it can be a lot. Actually, the only reason I had a job in high school was so that I could pump money into my music.

Being in a band can be demanding too. Managing this along with school schedules can be difficult, but if you’re serious you have to treat it as more than just a hobby, as equal importance as school. This requires serious time management skills because no band is any good without regular practice. I always thought of my band as my job, creating schedules, coordinating with the other bandmates, and managing the finances in Excel spreadsheets like you might for a small business.

All in all, being in a band can be a lot,­ especially for a high school student. But in the end, you walk away with a serious capacity for independence. By being in a band you can learn valuable networking skills, perseverance, money management, and time management. Furthermore, you walk away having learned to make yourself vulnerable. Creating something artistic definitely does by itself. But sending it to show bookers? Performing it for people? That’s even more extreme. In doing so, in making yourself vulnerable, you become confident, brave, and independent, which I think we can all agree are priceless skills.

Article by Coby Haynes.

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