The Devolution of Band

There has been a shift in the band from a large number of upperclassmen and underclassmen to mostly underclassmen. The freshmen are already guaranteed a spot in band, so when the school year starts the program normally has a lot of people, but then some choose to drop out and once again there is a small band. Throughout the last four years, there has been a dwindling number of upperclassmen. Students aren’t able to commit as much time as band requires due to sports, clubs, required classes such as freshman seminar or P.E credits, and work. What else has changed band over the years and what has influenced students to stay or leave?

So has anything changed over the years, if so what? When Sheehy started here over twenty years ago, there were just basic electives. Now there are college classes, bike tech class, culinary, and more, drawing in more students. Brian has experienced this saying “I was losing passion while I gained others”. Last year when the school decided to switch the schedule back to seven classes instead of eight, it made it difficult for students to all the classes they like. As for freshmen, they can often get overwhelmed with these choices and also their requirements. College opportunities have become a focus for the school as well as the students, juniors and seniors are pressured so they take many college classes that take-up elective spots, plus seniors are also able to work with careers to put it into their schedule. What is left or what makes up the band program is the incoming freshman from middle school. How well they do there impacts the high school greatly. If they come in and don’t have a high school level skill then it can cause students to drop out, it works vice versa as well. Sheehy explains that “If kids don’t come into high school with the level of playing that is required in high school, it makes it difficult for everyone because either the songs are too hard for some individuals or the songs become too easy and boring”. If the class isn’t challenging enough to make it fun it can cause people to drop out. One of the main reasons why the wind ensemble was created was due to how the band was becoming too easy for some of the students. It’s the same for jazz and drumline, having a class specific to students’ needs helps the program stay popular. 

As the band fluctuated over the years, some big influencers were based on the middle school program. Mr. Sheehy believes “The music program in middle school impacts the high school greatly and it’s evident this year with this group of kids from Gypsum Creek and some Eagle Valley”. Ever since Mr. Ward had started teaching at Gypsum Creek middle school, the high school has relied on them heavily for their new members in order for the band program to grow. Now that Mr. Ward is gone, Sheehy keeps a close eye on the program to prepare for any outcome.