Band Concerns

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by norcalmom2014, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    Unfortunately, this is going to be a long story. In our 5 min. phone call yesterday our DS informed us that he ended up deciding to be in the band after all. He was placed in the Band Co. building which we already didn't like because we had a feeling he would then be "encouraged/pressured" to participate in band not just live in the band building (By the way -- anyone know why they segregate band kids in the first place? We think it is odd and have heard weird stories about how band kids are viewed at KP in general)
    We are very concerned about his band decision, not due to disliking being in band itself, but because of the tremendous time commitment. When he left home he was very clear that he did not want to continue with band at KP, he wanted to do some offshore sailing and be an EMT as his extracurricular activities. These are already enough in our opinion because the more important goal here is to get a great education to prepare him for his service and his career. His goal is to either go Marines or Naval and hopefully get a flight spot at some point. So, we have a few concerns about the band commitment. If anyone has a DS/DD who has tried to combine band, a waterfront sport and EMT as well as do well in the academics, we would love to hear about how it can be done. Here are our concerns:
    1. He is enticed by the idea of things like playing in the Macy's Day parade -- does he mean this Thanksgiving (we already booked the flight home -- yikes!) and at inaugurations, etc. He might be at sea even during these things he looks forward to, who knows? How do we find out the band schedule since we need to make flight reservations to come home for Christmas, etc. We counted on him being here at Thanksgiving, etc.
    2. If band doesn't work out for him and he needs to quit, is he penalized in any way and can he quit at any time during the year? Can he do it one year and not the next? There is such a variety of new things to experience at KP.
    3. How does band effect doing offshore things, how can he do any other activity when he has to practice with the band almost every day? Is the commitment year round then?
    4. What is the sea year split based on? We have never understood how that is determined. We thought he would do his first one next November due to choosing waterfront activities, but now we wonder if it will be June due to band (?)
    5. Lastly, sort of unrelated. If kids do their sea time in June, how do they get any time to do internships in the summers? Again, we are so new at this and have no idea how things work.
    Thanks so much to whoever has patience to read this diatribe and respond.
     
  2. 2KPsons

    2KPsons Member

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    Band Co

    There is no short answer to your overall question, other than "it depends on your son."

    Band Company is indeed a commitment - it takes lots of time, especially right after Indoc when they are preparing for Beat Retreat. Band activities will sometimes (often, in fact) interfere with other things.

    As for why Band Company lives in it's own barracks, that is because it is indeed Band Company - just as the other companies live in their own barracks.

    It is true that Band Co tends to be looked at a bit strangely by the other companies. Not really sure why (I am a parent, did not attend KP), but the fact is that the Band Co members do work very hard.

    I had one son (graduated this year) who was in Band Co and who also was a four year member of the football team. He worked hard, but he enjoyed the band and playing football and did not want to give up either. He had a couple of friends who were in Band Co and who also were in waterfront sports, so yes, it can be done.

    But back to my first sentence - it depends on the individual.

    If you want some more info, feel free to PM me.
     
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I will piggy back on 2KPsons a little:

    Now some of what I will say isn't PC and I'll probably get some flack, but it's in my opinion the truth

    1)Band Co segregation: This is simply a matter of logistics. The band has their own schedule and their own routines. They practice every morning and at other times when other companies are having to do other things. If you put band members in all the companies, then when it comes times for parades those people get pulled out of your formation and go to the band. Simpler to just have them the way they are. Can you imagine the fights that would happen if one set of plebes got stuck cleaning another sets area because the other set has to go to band practice? Ouch, I'd be pissed.

    2)Band Co view by outside mids: (disclaimer, I was not in band). They are viewed the way they are simply for the same reason why high school band kids are viewed the way they are. It's simply because they are a "group" and other people have defined ideals of various "groups." Band members have their own stereotypes.

    3)Sea Year: Sea year is usually determined almost entirely by your sport. There are so many people that play sports at the school that first priority is given to that. So, there are a defined number of slots for A & B splits, let's just for example say 100 each. Lets say there are 70 plebes who play fall sports, well that leaves 30 slots for the non-athletes to split for that particular split. They do ask for preference as well. It can also come down to what major you are in regards to a numbers game for making up the sections.

    4)Other activities: Yes, band can affect other activities; however, many, many band co m/n are EMT's and alot of them also do offshore. Band things will take precedence, but when they are free from that they can partake in other activities. As noted, playing an intercollegiate sport and being in band can be very challenging; however, can be done as one of my soccer teammates proved and 2KPsons son proved with football.

    5)Quitting: This is difficult. You can do it; however, the "forces" that be have quite the grip on you once you start.

    6)Internships: internships don't have to be done in the summer. They can be done anytime during your second sea split.

    Anyway, if he has signed up it probably means he at least is enjoying it. he will figure out the time management aspect and many of those in Band end up really enjoying it. They do get to do some pretty neat stuff.
     
  4. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    Well I was just writing pretty much the same response as 2001.

    One other note, when the Band marched in Obama's inauguration, band members who were at sea were offered the opportunity to come back to school to march, actually, any A split was offered this opportunity, not just the band. My son did not come back because, after all, they are there to graduate and it is important to get all sea days in, least you fall short and have to take a set back.

    In the words of our fearless leader, jamzmom, SEMPER GUMBY!
     
  5. g-man

    g-man Member

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    Band Co

    My son is in band co. He was shanghaied at INDOC last year. He had never played in a band in his life, but knew how to read music. Don't let rumors scare you. The fact is that Band Co is just as capable as every other company. They think they are the best and they say that they consistently out perform all the other companies. I'm sure 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and now 5th think and say the same thing. The time commitment doesn't seem to be that bad. I think they keep it simple and at some point around December or January I think they won't practice much at all. Most of the practice and events are at the beginning of the school year. My son really enjoyed the trips he got to make. NYC a couple of times and Fort Ticonderoga. He probably could have gotten out of Band, but he enjoys the rewards he gets from it. He is a big athletic type, so he isn't trying to find a place to fit in. Your son my have to choose what he is involved in. Overachievers are prime candidates for service academies. Just remind him that academics are what cause the majority of disenrollments and setbacks. Everyone around him is an "A" student and some don’t make it. Be diligent concerning grades!
     
  6. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    Thanks for Band insights!

    Thanks to all who have responded. It really helps me chill out about the band commitment part as long as he does keep up with the academic piece, as was stated here. We got a great letter from him today as it turns out and he is very excited about keeping up with band, still doing waterfront stuff and being an EMT -- he says "it is all possible, mom" So, I just need to trust that he knows better than I do what he can handle, and if he can't handle it, he can bug out of some of the band commitments (he says). He claims, as was said in this thread, that Band Co. is the best company of all, etc. It is good he feels so much comraderie already. Can't wait to see the growth he will make at KP.
    So, now I am just wanting to know if we wasted some money on a plane ticket for Thanksgiving, doing the Macy's parade would be pretty cool, just don't know if indeed it is this year or some other year.
    Thanks for the explanation about how sea year works and about other possibilities when you are doing several things at once. All the posts have helped tremendously.
     
  7. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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    Our DS is Band Co, B-split. He also does Cross Country and Track. Fall trimester is the toughest, with lots of rehearsals for Beat Retreat. DS would finish classes, work out, have dinner, do band rehearsal, study, sleep. Repeat the next day.

    The two main "road trips" for Band last year were the NYC 400 performance in Battery Park with the Royal Dutch Marine Band (unfortunately the same weekend as Parents' Weekend - it cut into our time with DS) and a performance at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate NY in early October. DS did not attend the latter, as he had a cross country meet the same weekend. They did not march in the Macy's parade last year - it's certainly not an every-year event.

    When we asked DS whether he would have preferred to be in a different company, his answer was a rather emphatic "NO!" The company has a great sense of camaraderie and he's made some terrific friends.

    What has always impressed me about Band Co is that it's unique among the service academies. The bands from the other academies are made up of regular service members, professionals in many cases. They're not students. We live not too far from West Point and have enjoyed watching their parades before football games - but they're not nearly as impressive once you know the band is getting paid to march! I watched the plebes' parade on Friday (thanks, Mindy G!) and once again was truly impressed with how much the Band Co plebes have learned in less than three weeks.
     
  8. Montana Mom

    Montana Mom New Member

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    We too, have a DS that didnt express a interest in Band company and was disappointed with his assignment at first, but it now seems he is enjoying the group except for their lack of AC dorm assignment. Our only concern is with adjusting to the classes and having extra band practices at the same time. Is this valid? Also how do we find out what events are set for the band company this year? If they do indeed play the Macy parade I would love to attend! That is something I have always wanted to do.
     
  9. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Montana Mom and Norcalmom; Your kids can do more than band. our ds did water front. Initial time commitment upfront in band is big b/c of beat retreat which is totally amazing. I think the Macy's day parade was awhile ago. Our son has been home for every big holiday with no band commitments on Thanksgiving and Christmas. When you are at Acceptance Wkend, you will get a free regimental calendar, I think they are free this year. Anyway, if not it's only $15 and its quite detailed. Also if you look online at KP's site you should see an online regimental calendar, but it only gives the long wkends, Holidays, exam schedules. The comraderie in band if great. Many fun and creative people there. Come winter there is a break from it if I remember correctly. Then it picks back up again. in the spring he decided to go Army Ops and droped water front, but is still in band. It's nice to go away for the trips....extra sleep on the bus, change of scenery. He's got great friends in there.:thumb:
     
  10. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    B split is right after school ends in June of the first year thru the summer and thru the 1st trimester of the beginning of their 2nd *year. then they stay on campus the rest of their 2nd year and have summer off between the end of their 2nd year and beginning of their 3rd year. That's a good time to do the internship. Then the 8 months starts in March of their 3rd year at KP and they come back from sea after the 1st trimester of their final year at KP. Schedules are all set up by the academy ahead of time so they get all the classes they need. :thumb:
     
  11. Mikemom

    Mikemom Member

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    Is Their Building Cold In The Winter?

    Since Band Co. does not have air conditioning, will we need to send portable heaters for them because of poor/inadequate heat as well? I have heard that it may be a good idea to send an extra blanket or sleeping bag as they do not sleep under their covers, just on top of their beds.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  12. kpskilegac

    kpskilegac Member

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    Many mids use a sleeping bag or extra blanket since most do not sleep between the sheets rather than having to make their bed. It doesn't matter where they live; it's pretty common practice. Don't send it until your PC asks for it though. Found lightweight inexpensive fleece sleeping bags at LLBean that are easy to stow.
     
  13. jessibee2013

    jessibee2013 Member

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    I want to echo waiting until asked to send bedding. I sent a fleece sleeping sack and a sheet sack- both came home at Thanksgiving.
     
  14. Mikemom

    Mikemom Member

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    Thanks so much for the advice. I will wait for his request.
     
  15. g-man

    g-man Member

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    Norcalmom,

    Just wanted to add what our experience has been on purchasing airfare. We generally wait until DS gets his class schedule and he knows when his last class of the day will be. Then we give him about 3 hrs to get to LaGuardia. In the past he has always been in uniform (plebe year requirement). Being in uniform in NYC is similar to wearing a medium size prince crown. 1/2 price dinners, free appetizers, etc wherever you go. So he shows up at the airport early and asks if any seats are open for earlier flights. He has gotten moved to the earlier flight every time without charge. Hasn't really mattered what airline. We fly American mostly. This is how we do it and it has worked well except for INDOC this year. We had already purchased his ticket and then he was voluntold he was going to be a DI. No problem. We called the airline and told them our son was in the military and his orders had changed. They changed his flight again without charge. They did ask for a USMMA phone number to verify. The military I.D. and uniform opens a lot of doors. We have found the airlines very accommodating. Hope a recap of our experiences helps.
     
  16. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    All good information - one added point...

    First all of this information is great and constructive - I think the initial responses set a stage that everyone could add to.

    I was not in Band Co, nor is my DS - that said I'd add that my understanding and data is continued to be gathered on this at the Academy but from what was seen last year - in general members of the Plebe Class did better Academically while their sports or major extra-curricular activities were "in season" than during the off season. Speaking anecdotally, from what I experienced 28 years ago and what I've seen with my own DS these past two years that makes perfect sense to me. When you are in season you have something to ground and structure your schedule around and this from my perspective helps a midshipmen deal with the most critical aspect of Academy life - prioritizing and time management. During the off season in today's world its just so easy for them to let themselves be distracted and browse the Internet or chat on facebook and then look-up and realize suddenly that 3-4 hours have passed and they have an assignment due for their first class the next morning, etc. When they are "in season" they have something that keeps them focused on doing what they are "supposed to" or "required to do" along with a Coach, a band director, or an academic adviser for the team reminding them that Academics have to come first, it likely helps persuade them away from these "dark side" - time wasting activities.....
     
  17. CT2014parent

    CT2014parent New Member

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    All good posts. Our DS had played trumpet in HS but wasn't to keen on joining Band Co at KP. He was concerned about any stigma that might be associated with those in Band. Imagine how surprised we were when we heard he was in Band Co.! Well, now he says he's made some good friends, likes the Band Master and couldn't care less about the lack of A/C. He's worried about academics but when he called Sunday he simply said "Oh well, I'll have to put more effort into it than everyone else." So we're staying out of it. He's dealt with adversity before and we have to trust him now.
     
  18. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Great training to stay out of what is happening. Parents, now is the time to reinforce the message we got last year. DO NOT CALL THE ACADEMY OR WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN OR SENATOR ABOUT your ds/dd's or you unhappiness regarding anything. I promise you...they will take it out on your ds/dd and you will get a phone call from your dd/ds. Now, just remind your kids that they will do great if they continue doing from now on what they did that got them into this fabulous Academy! Keep focused, relax the brain and body, learn to ask for help, learn time management skills and commit to this year. :thumb:
     
  19. midmma2013

    midmma2013 Member

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    It bears repeating:

    DO NOT CALL THE ACADEMY OR WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN OR SENATOR ABOUT your ds/dd's or you unhappiness regarding anything...this is not grammar school anymore.
     
  20. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Wow...

    First while I agree there's likely never going to be a reason why and when I would think that talking to a Member of Congress about an issue involving a member of the student body or even more general issues on them, even one directly affecting one of their nominees, where's the paranoia coming from re:

    I just went through this entire thread/discussion and don't see anybody even remotely suggesting or indicating they are thinking about talking to a MOC about: a) Band Co Assignments (the original topic); 2) A/C or the lack thereof in band co ( a side topic); 3) Heating in the Dorms or the inconsistency with which temperature can be and is maintained in the now 50+ year old dorms renovated or not so.... (or any other sidebar topics that have crept into this discussion for that matter).

    So where is the shouted (in on line discussions - all CAPS is shouting):

    coming from/prompted by?
     

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