Quitting Band for other things

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by norcalmom2014, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    We are kind of concerned about our DS after a phone call recently. He doesn't seem very happy being made to stay in band. Although he really loves being around the other band members and doesn't mind the barracks, etc. he feels stuck somewhat. When asked if he wants to stay in band next year and he reluctantly said that it is ok, that he feels he has to but that he really has other interests. Our concern is: how do you get out of the band commitment if you want to pursue something else, ie. Marine Ops program, etc. He seems to think that he would be forced to give up his waterfront activities to do the Marine training over ever being allowed to move on from the band commitment. He did not sign up for band at all and frankly, we didn't send him to KP to be in the band, nothing wrong with the band as such. He just wants to commission to Marines or Naval and wants to get as many new experiences out of KP as he can. He liked the band in HS, had fun, marching band, jazz band, etc. but he seems done with it now. Why is the band commitment treated differently than other extracurricular activities? I doubt kids are being forced to join any other activities except for band.
    Who can kids talk to about these kinds of things; in essence, their education and future without being admonished or pressured in some way? In other words, do they have a right to choose to opt out of band or not, the government is footing the bill, so maybe not? Do what you are told, and all that kind of stuff?
     
  2. kdbax

    kdbax Member

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    norcalmom. We have a son in Band Co. Private message coming your way....
     
  3. KPatKP

    KPatKP Member

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    PM

    kdbax,

    Sending you a PM. Have a few questions. Hope you don't mind.
     
  4. Texmom

    Texmom Member

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    PM

    norcalmom: sent you a pm
     
  5. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Our son is in Band Co. He never played an instrument but was in choir and had leads in musicals throughout HS. He knew he could relate to the band co people b/c of his background. He has the best of friends there, and sometimes that does make the biggest difference in the long run. I truly think it's about the type of person you are at this time in life (knowing too that that will change or be added to). And, believe it or not, Band Co graduates the most midshipmen. Our son was involved in sailing and band at the same time when he was first a plebe. Band stops during the winter months and picks up again during the spring trimester. During the winter ds got involved with Army Ops. Loves it and decided to drop the sailing in the spring for various reasons. He is still in band and is involved with Army Ops. I don't know about asking to get out of band. Initially band is a huge commitment. But there are many rewards especially with team movements (getting off campus, real food at restaurants, to sleep in a hotel bed, using the cell phone, extra sleep on the bus/cars). Yes, it is possible to be in band and be in other activities. But as everyone says academics first and foremost.
     
  6. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    Choice

    In my mind the real issue about the band at KP is choice. The band is great, goes to great places, puts on great performances, etc. So does the Rugby team, so does the sailing team, so does the drill team. The difference between the two is choice. If someone who was a sailor in high school comes to KP says they don't want to sail- they don't have too. If a 4 year football star comes to KP and says they want to be on the drill team - they are on the drill team. But if someone played the triangles in 3rd grade they are in the band and cannot get out. Every other activity at KP is voluntary, and better for it. If one of my sailors comes to me and says they want to take a season off for something else - I say go for it because a KP experience is not about my team succeeding, but about our midshipmen succeeding - and doing so by experiencing a broad range of activities and trying new things.

    My recommendations -
    1. Disband Band Co, or make Football Co, Sailing Co, etc. There is no difference between the activities that account for a separate company.

    2. Recruit for the band instead of impressment. If no one joined the Baseball team no one would be forced to play - lets recruit talented band members who want to be there.

    My advice to new applicants who are unsure of what activity they want to be a part of at KP - do not ever say anything about playing an instrument or musical experience. If after indoc you decide that you do want to be a part of the band you can always join later - they will welcome you at any time, but it is near impossible to get out.
     
  7. kpskilegac

    kpskilegac Member

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    Deepsea-
    Enjoyed your recommendations about forming football co or sailing co. Remember the days when the various teams ate at "training tables"? Somehow they were disbanded but band co remains. If you elected to play football or sail or wrestle or whatever, while you didn't live with your team mates, you ate with them and joining the team was a choice. The band does a great job and is a huge commitment as are many other KP activities but if you can't have a team training table any more should you there be a dedicated company for an extracurricular activity?
     
  8. Pacificbound

    Pacificbound New Member

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    I am currently a M/N in band co and I can say personally that the band is nothing like what it was in high school. We march and play old style songs that frankly are not that fun to play. This is all just my opinion, but I have made great friends being in this company and there is a comraderie that I feel does not exist in the other companys. This comes from everyone being involved in something together, whether we enjoy it or not. It is VERY difficult to get switched out of band co so all I can say to your son is to stick with it for the time being, many other people are in here that don't want to, life is not always fair. He can join the other programs, but he just must remember how important academics and prioritize accordingly. You can not get kicked out for not having your shoes shined, but you can get kicked out for failing...Hope this helped
     
  9. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    Nonsense- If you want out, get out- it is hard, but can be done! You choose Kings Point, You choose your Major, You choose what sport you want to play, but you cannot choose whether to be in or out of the Band. What I don't understand is why Band wants to keep folks that don't want to be there- I certainly don't want sailors that don't want to sail, as they bring the whole team down.
     
  10. Pacificbound

    Pacificbound New Member

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    True, people have gotten out. It is more that the people in band complain about being there, but don't actually do anything about it. Why they don't do anything about it is unclear to me.
     
  11. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    They need someone to pretend beat the drums and twirl the drum sticks. :biggrin:
     
  12. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    I Could Not Agree With Deepsea More On This Topic

    RE:
    Making impressment and shanghaiing people explicitly illegal is one of the few things that it's easy to get the minimum 33 sovereign nations required to adopt an IMO rule agree upon. Relative to band company it's becoming more and more of an issue. Impressment of people into Band Co is something that just flat out needs to change - i.e. it needs to be stopped.

    I could and would go on further but lets make it very simple - how long do you think someone would be made to stay in Band Company if a midshipmen who has been shanghaied to Band Company or his/her parents contacted their Nominating Authority and said "I'd like to talk to the Head of Constituent Services, my DS/DD and our family want to personally thank them and Congressman XXX for helping my DS/DD realize their dream."

    Then as part of the ensuing conversation mentions to that member of their Congressman's staff:

    "There is one problem/fear they have, in high school they were in the band so even though they didn't want to be in the band they were placed in it. They are very concerned now that the school year has started that being in the band, which we understand is not a REQUIREMENT, is taking too much time away from their ability to study. He/she loves the USMMA, but they don't want to be in the band and now they are truly worried they might fail out. They've requested being moved out of the band through the process they are supposed to follow but they've been told basically to "man up" and work through it, there's other folks in the band who don't want to be there but persevere so they should too. As their parent, and a taxpaying constituent this doesn't make sense to me, I mean I don't see anywhere in their charter or mission statement how even having a band helps train my DS/DD to be a better merchant ship officer or active duty military officer. We've tried to get this situation addressed and get some straight answers from the USMMA Commandant's staff but so far have had no luck. Is there anything you recommend we do to fix that? We really want our DS/DD to succeed and graduate."

    I can foresee about 100 different pieces of advice or actions that member of the Congressman's Staff gives and does in follow-up to such a conversation. As a concerned supportive alumni, not one of those follow-up actions would be good for the Kings Point Community and we who support it.

    Further I can easily see the academy one day getting a certified letter from an attorney about the issue on behalf of a concerned family or student and that would be even worse in terms of the resultant effects and ripples.

    This (attempting to coerce and/or force people people to stay in Band) is inappropriate and clearly ill advised. Why does anyone thing that NONE of the other programs or sports make issues when "recruits" decide they want to stop participating in those activities? It's because nobody goes to USMMA on a "Band" or "Football" or "Basketball" or Soccer" or Sailing" or "etc." Scholarship. You go there as a result of getting a Nomination from a legally authorized authority and then as a a result of competing with the other nominees, earning an appointment as a fully, well rounded worthy individual. Even if one of those attributes is you were in the State's Marching Band or the State Champion Lacrosse Team in High School, that's just one aspect of who you are and why you received that appointment. Further forcing a current member of the regiment to continue to do any of those sorts of things when they don't want to while they are at the Academy detracts from the integrity and stature of the institution and it's results.

    Sorry for the ramble, I had earlier sent a PM to the original poster and was choosing to stay silent in public on this topic. Deepsea's comments "outed me" from my uncharacteristic lurking on the subject.

    I now wonder what I might be able to do to spur open review of this subject and reconsideration of this topic by the Commandant and Acting Superintendent. You know in the true spirit of Acta Non Verba and as a result of imagining and annunciating here some worst case scenarios.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  13. JMC0759

    JMC0759 S-USMMA '12 D-USAFA '15

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    Band Company

    My son was also a reluctant member of band company. During in-processing a few years ago he was stopped at the band table and asked if he played an instrument. He told the truth and said that he did but said that he did not want to play it anymore. He was told to pick another instrument and that he was now in band company. He will never admit it but he is very proud of being in that special group. He has gotten to see and do things at KP that he would never have been able to do in the other companies. I am thrilled that he is in the band. The academic success rate of the company, the special recognition, the fellowship. Want out of band? Ask yourself that question after beat retreat when you see the look on your parent's faces! It is a very special moment, one you and your parents will never forget. This will be my third retreat and I would not miss it for the world. I can look at it this way - he learned to play a new instrument and I did not have to pay for lessons!!!!
     
  14. USMMA2014

    USMMA2014 Member

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    You guys dont seem to get it. This individual is in the same boat one of my new buddies was in. He didnt want to be in band co, and got out only because he was recruited for swimming. It took him almost 1 1/2 months to get out and the process was not easy. He ended up going to the commandant himself, and hes in 5th co now.

    Stop telling this person "HEY YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER WILL LOVE IT!" OR "BAND CO IS GREAT, REALLY!". The person doesnt want to be in band co so stop telling him that it is worth the experience. I know sure as hell the members of the band get so much nonsense from the other midshipman for being in the company, it just makes sense that he wants out. If you dont play an instrument you shouldnt be in band, and if you dont WANT TO BE IN BAND, you shouldnt be. People like JMC0759 need to learn this.

    --> My advice, do what he did, call up the commandant.
     
  15. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    That is great - I'm glad it worked out for your son. I've been to Beat Retreat, and it is an impressive show......unfortunately it is not why we (KP) are here. Imagine instead, and I would be against this as well, that on reporting day your son was told that he was now required to be in the Power Squadron or on the Sailing Team, and instead of sitting in the gym watching beat retreat for the third time, you are underway with your son as skipper aboard Growler in the New York Tug competition, leading his crew, navigating New York Harbor, etc. Or maybe you could have joined him this June in Newport, Rhode Island before his start as Skipper of a 56' sailboat about to sail 600 miles to Bermuda, leading a crew of midshipman to sea. That is what KP is here for, and those are opportunities that your son never had.
     
  16. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Maybe Missing The Point?

    So there are some who are responding to this post with all the reasons they think that someone should stay in the Band ...

    My point and I believe Deepsea's point is that participating in ANY extra curricular activity at the USMMA should be the personal choice of each midshipman. When it comes to EVERY other extra-curricular activity on campus, this is true - however, it's NOT true with the Regimental Marching Band. To me, that's wrong, and basically the sum total of the issue. Further all these posts in defense of the current status quo on the subject are not addressing Norcalmom2014's questions:

    Taking them in what I regard as logical order:

    RE: " I doubt kids are being forced to join any other activities except band."
    NORCALMOM2014's assumption is indeed correct. Midshipman are not in any way, shape or form compelled or otherwise coerced to join or continue to participate in any other extra-curricular activities. Additionally, leaving the band without moving out of band company continues to expose the now nonparticipating midshipman to coercion as they are the ones who are "different" from their roommates, etc. If this were something similar to a gender situation in the workplace, the non-participant could clearly make the case they were being openly forced to remain and routinely be exposed to "a hostile work environment." The attendant fines, etc the non-participant's employer would find them liable for could in such a case be significant.

    RE: "Why is the band commitment treated differently than the other extra-curricular activities?"
    Bottom line, as Forrest Gump would say, I think the honest answer is "For No Particular reason." Some more background, over time the current situation evolved from a desire of the bandmaster and an alleged "basic need" of the band members to live in a common dorm/barracks to be able to accommodate the schedule of their practice, etc. over the entire course of the year, not just a particular season, to have all the members of the band live in a single company. This is a situation (a separate band company) that has been so for over 30 years. So while one might question why it's any harder for a band member to live in say 3rd company and make band practice, etc. vice a football player in season doing so, suffice it to say the existence of band company is a long held and practiced thing at the USMMA, such that few if any question that practice at all. That said, as far as I know it was at some point during VADM Stewart's tenure as Superintendent (I know is was subsequent to RADM King's time as Super) that the number of people in the band, a source of pride, honor and tradition at USMMA, dwindled and it was decided that the conscription of additional members was necessary. After all - since they had a dorm and needed to put people in those rooms, why not also force them to play instruments? If my attribution of this policy is incorrect, in other words if the bandmaster wasn't supportive of this and/or VADM Stewart wasn't the Superintendent who authorized the start of this policy then someone who has better information please correct me. In any case I'm pretty sure, my earlier post enumerating of a few of the worst case scenarios as to the potential backlash to this policy illustrate what I think of the idea and the advisability of continuing the practice. Truthfully I think the whole situation ought to be reviewed. If one feels that team tables are inadvisable and go against the idea and building of proper esprit d'corps in the regiment (I do not - we had team tables when I was there and it was a good thing - especially when a sport was in season) then segregating midshipmen based on their participation in a particular extra-curricular activity makes even less sense.

    As further background, I can tell in that in the early 1980's what was then third company (we had 6 "regular" companies and band co back in those days of the square riggers) was the smallest "regular company" and we lived in Cleavland Hall. Over that period, Third Co consisted almost entirely of football players and sailors until some of those guys (third co was all male back then, 1st and 4th company were the only coed companies then as they were the only halls with female heads and showers) were moved as it was felt the relationships of teammates was adversely affecting the ability of the regimental system to function properly. In other words in some cases class rates were not being enforced among teammates, etc. That put an end to any discussion of the potential for team "dorms" - of course except for band company because they had this "practice schedule" issue. Never mind that at the time the Football Team was attempting to compete at the Division II level or that the Intercollegiate Sailing Team was consistently ranked in the Top 5 in the nation, went to EVERY ICYRA Championship Regatta and on any given weekend during the season(s) - Fall and Spring - fielded a highly competitive team at at least one major and one minor regatta or multiple minor regattas and had two or three offshore vessels racing in the Long Island Sound or elsewhere. Once again explain to me how and why it's only the Band Company that has to live together to be able to better manage their time with the REQUIRED Regimental and Academic commitments...

    RE: "Who can kids talk to about these kinds of things; in essence, their education and future without being admonished or pressured in some way? In other words, do they have a right to choose to opt out of band or not?"


    I believe those answers are: they absolutely have a right to opt out of band. To my knowledge, there is NOTHING an incoming P/C or his/here parents sign that abrogates their rights in this regard such that they agree to accepting such a determination, etc. like the Class of 2012 signed relative to agreeing to allow and accept IT when they were plebes. As such, they can talk to their chain of command, however since that chain of command involves all midshipmen officers who are band members and a company officer who is the band co company officer, I would jump immediately to wither the Deputy/Assistant Commandant of Midshipmen or the Commandant himself in order to ensure I wasn't "admonished or pressured in some way." I would also say, this will likely still be a character building learning experience for the midshipman opting out of band but a lesson in self reliance, persistence, and leadership that ultimately everyone who aspires to command needs to learn. That being taking responsibility for your own actions, course to destination, and results and seeing things through to the end when you believe in something, even when it's not the easy or popular course.

    RE: as to the comment: "the government is footing the bill, so maybe not? Do what you are told, and all that kind of stuff?"

    The Government is indeed footing the bill and while as a proud alumni I really, really like the fact USMMA is the only Service Academy to have a marching band that is led and staffed by students, I'm also equally sure that the reason the US Government is footing that bill is not so I or my fellow Americans can see and hear a really good, English Style Regimental Band. I think theres a mission that you have to learn as part of your plebe knowledge for USMMA and despite revisions, etc. over the past 32 years since I could rattle it off as a Plebe, I'm pretty comfortable in asserting, it doesn't include anything about ensuring we have a great Band.

    I will not post further on this thread as I'm sure I'll only start sounding like even more of a "ranter" on it (is that even a word?). I just felt that while some people are responding with what they feel are words of encouragement, etc. the original poster may just as likely be feeling like now they are being coerced and are "being admonished." I hope I'm wrong in which case sorry for the rant, but I would say that at no point in the original post by NORCALMOM2014 did she say or ask anything like "My son seems to want to get out of Band Company, I think he should stay there, what reasons can I or should I give him to encourage him to do so?" In which case several of these replies would be smack on target and I would not have posted either of my posts nor sent her the PM I sent. I am not in any way suggesting that band is a bad thing or not a worthwhile activity. I am clearly saying I think that conscription of entering midshipmen to band company is NOT a policy that should be continued and the whole idea of a separate band company and how it is administrated and managed inside of the Regimental System should be reviewed and if deemed appropriately updated. Like I said, I truly won't post again on this thread so all those who have other views/thoughts and additions can get some exposure for their views as clearly there are indeed alternative views of merit on the subject(s).

    Finally to NORCALMOM2014 - whatever your DS decides to do, I wish him good luck and well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  17. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I believe this predates VADM Stewart. This was well known when I entered the Academy and that was during RADM Mattison's tenure. The general statement that I remember from prior to plebe year was "under no circumstances do you ever admit to having played an instrument"
     
  18. norcalmom2014

    norcalmom2014 Member

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    Wow -- thanks for all the informative posts!!

    I appreciate everyone's opinions on the subject of "getting out of band." At this point we are going to be non-meddling parents (a real challenge for me!) and let our DS sort out the pros and cons of staying in Band Co. I am so pleased to hear some very good things about staying in and also agree wholeheartedly with jasperdog on the whole subject of these young men and women being allowed to make up their own minds about which activities they want to pursue while at KP and not being forced to be in band when they don't want to. I feel we can better counsel our DS if need be because of these posts from you all.
    I so appreciate the history given here about the teams and how things were run in the past. Although it is kind of surprising that anyone is placed in Band Co when some clearly don't want to be in it, I also do see that some kids end up loving it and do benefit from it. I feel fortunate that our DS loves music and enjoys the band members enough to maybe stick with it, as long as it doesn't get in the way of his other pursuits. My original concern, which got answered in some PM's, was that my DS should never be told he has to give up another extracurricular activity, like sailing or Marine Ops because he is made to choose band over these other things. In fact those things are the reasons he chose KP and are part of his future career preparation, whereas band is sort of a fun and resorative thing for him. This impression he has of his obligation to band is something we will be talking over with him at PW. I hope he will see that he has the right to say "no" to Band if it gets in the way of the education he wants while at KP.
    So, we shall see how this all plays out. But I do think my DS would sooner die than know there is an entire thread on this topic, especially involving him. Yikes! But, like jasperdog was saying, it is probably time for the administration to take a look at this Band thing to see if it should continue to be run this way. I think he is also very correct in saying that if you are successful in getting out, then you will be looked at differently by some people. It is sad in a way. Bands are a great thing but perhaps they can still have a band without coercing people to be in it.
    I do look forward to our first PW next week. I can't wait for Beat Retreat and to actually see the campus as we have never been there. And, of course, to kiss that DS's fuzzy bald head!! Aren't indoc pics great!!
     
  19. McMom

    McMom Member

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    My ds was also a reluctant band member class of 2013. He is ok with it now because he's made such good friends in band but I agree that it shouldn't be forced up anyone! I don't think my ds could of hidden the fact he was in band because it's on his school transcripts. He played for over 7 years.
     
  20. Gucchino

    Gucchino New Member

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    Hey all,
    My name is XXXX, I am from Indianapolis Indina, and I have recieved my appointment to USMMA and am honored and humbled to be going. The two events I do are sailing and Band. I signed a list at an open house earlier this year on both the rosters and have had contact with both the director of band and the sailing coach. I have heard that during registration, they ask you if you play an instrument, and you say yes, then you are automatically into Band Co., no option. Although joining any group at USMMA is an honor, my pereference is strongly with sailing. Are there any tips for the recomendations on handeling this? Once again, any group at KP will be great, but if I had a choice, I would pick waterfront.

    Thanks
    ~GU
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2010

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