Should I quit marching band?

Band practice impacts my classes but it’s my only social life – and my dad’s! 

Don’t worry about your dad, says our elder. Follow your heart: find new interests and new friends.


Dear EWC

I am a sophomore at a large university. I recently switched majors from Geography to IST, and will have to take major-specific courses for the next four semesters that can be quite challenging with little room for error. The advice I seek is less so related to the courses, and more so related to my extracurricular. I have been apart of the marching band since my freshman year, and my entire social circle has slowly become primarily members of the band. The issue is that I have to practice and attend rehearsals daily, and I average about four hours of band a day during the football season. The activity can get in the way of my classes, and I have other clubs and opportunities I am interested in exploring. 

I am just nervous in leaving my organization I have invested so much time into, and am concerned that by leaving, I would degrade the social circle and relationships I have built up with my friends in the band. As a small addendum, my father went to the same university that I am going to. He is not very social nowadays, and my mom even mentioned in passing that the most social thing he does is come up each home game to watch his old team play, see me perform, and see his old friends. I would feel guilty for leaving the band as I may flush away the one social event my father truly cares about. It is a rudimentary question to ask, and it’s entirely possible there is no perfect answer or outcome, but… what should I do? I don’t want to degrade my (and apparently my father’s) social circle in my college years, but I want to strive for something greater academically, and maybe even explore other clubs. I am not leaning in favor of one option or the other as of now, and any insight on the matter would be appreciated. Thank you.


Cairnie replies

Congratulations on pursuing academic excellence and having extracurricular interests. It is understandable that your social circle comes from these activities.

You ask about the impact of your changing majors on your social circle of friends, and on your dad’s. Let’s talk about your dad’s first. You are not responsible for your dad’s social life. He can still attend the games, watch the marching band, and see his old friends. All of that is not dependent upon your participation in the marching band, nor should it be. So no guilt there. He is an adult, and is entirely responsible for his own happiness.

How wise you are to recognize that marching band can be very time-consuming, and potentially interfere with the time you need for academics. And academics is the primary reason that you are at school. So well done on that.

If by leaving marching band those friends no longer have time for you, then it sounds like they were more like convenience friends and not real friends. Real friends care about you as a person, and not just a particular activity you might share. Sure, you’ve spent lots of time together, you have shared memories and a shared interest. That won’t change. If they still care about you, you’ll all find ways to stay in touch and get together, likely after football season.

Leaving marching band will give your friends a chance to get together and know you in a different environment. And as you write, will give you a chance to pursue other interests and clubs and make new friends in those activities, too. I support expanding your horizons and giving yourself a chance to be a more well-rounded college student. And maybe find a way to play that instrument in another venue/group on campus.

So my advice is to follow what your heart and head are telling you, knowing that it will be a change. Change can be scary, as it takes courage to do something different. It can also be life-changing. Pursue the academic program you want. Know that this will test some friendships, while offering the opportunity to make new ones.

College is for a short time. You have the rest of your life to build on your degree and continue to grow. So graduate in the major that means the most to you. And maybe your dad will find other ways to socialize with adults, and with you.

Article #: 474067

Category: School

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