For ten years my girl, Corinne, has been known for her integrity, work ethic, and skills on the trumpet. Today, she made a really tough decision--laying band aside for her Senior year. It isn't that she doesn't love marching band, but each year she has worked to demonstrate her commitment, leadership, and skill--and her work has been consistently ignored by the directors. A year ago she was frustrated by her placement, but she never complained and instead pushed herself to work harder. She organized sectionals, was the only current trumpet player to make District Honor Band (as she has done every year since we moved here,) the only one to have made All-State Honor Band, and worked with any student who needed help. She was certain she would be given a leadership position. Instead, she was handed a "support" role---and demoted to the bottom third of the trumpet section. To make matters worse, all the players "ranked" higher are guys and members of the volunteer jazz band. It looked suspiciously like favoritism---especially considering her audition score (38/40.) The likelihood that 5 players scored higher is pretty minimal.
She wrote out her list of questions. She created a pro-con chart. She talked to us. She talked to friends--in band and former members and non-band members. She slept on it. Today she talked to the assistant director (the director wasn't there) who danced around her questions. At the end of the day, she decided to find another place to play her trumpet and leave the Walton band behind. She still plans to speak to the director, but once she made her decision, she said she felt relieved of a huge burden.
I'm sad. Band has been a HUGE part of her life for years. Because she loved it, so did we. It was wonderful to watch her lead and play with excellence. It made us proud to see her peers looking to her for help. To watch her leave because of "politics" and favoritism just hurts. She should be looking toward the pinnacle of her high school career, but will find herself looking outside school for musical fulfillment.
She has wonderful memories. Football games, bus rides, competitions, the Tournament of Roses parade, and a host of inside jokes that make the last three years of Walton Band worthwhile. She is looking forward to singing more at church and auditioning for a community orchestra or taking lessons again. She is looking forward to getting a job and buying a car. She is looking forward to having a social life AND time to study AND sleep. She feels good about her decision.
Eventually, I will, too.