Music makes the world go 'round

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
As a former high school marching band member, I can relate with the Letter to the Editor to the left of this column.
For me, my high school days were spent not only studying, but also raising funds for various band projects such as buying new drums and traveling to places like Washington, D.C. for invited appearances. I've had the opportunity to play music at places like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in our Nation's Capital and in Gatlinburg. If it weren't for the many fundraisers, those experiences and many more would not have been made possible.
I can attest that it's not easy raising those funds. And in fact, my parents had to fork out a portion of the dough each time for me to be able to attend. Raising funds for equipment is no different. There are so many schools, clubs and organizations soliciting money that many of them start to run together for businesses owners.
Each week after a football game, my father would take my band uniform to the cleaners and have it cleaned. That came out of my parents' pockets too. A band fee paid at the beginning of each year was used to pay for one final cleaning before the uniforms were stored away for the summer.
Unfortunately, some families cannot afford dry cleaning bills or even the fee needed to join band. It wasn't easy for my parents, but they were able to make ends meet. Some children don't have these opportunities afforded to them and are either afraid or embarrassed to ask for assistance. Donation opportunities like the ones mentioned in the letter give those children the chance to experience band and everyone deserves that opportunity.
Music changed my life and I continue to feed off the knowledge and skills I learned in the high school band each and everyday. Whether it's humming a melody while typing a story or singing to a song while on my way to a breaking story, music is a part of my life. And I for one, don't know where I would be had I not had that opportunity.
Being in the band isn't just all about music. It's also about discipline, friendship and respect.
If you haven't been in the marching band, try standing at attention with a base drum strapped over your shoulders in 98-degree heat during summer band camp. That takes discipline. In my band we took pride on not moving at attention and looking our best. I still believe today that no matter what you have to offer, presentation is one of the No. 1 keys to succeeding.
As for friendships, what can I say? Most of my fondest memories of high school revolve around the marching band. Football games, competitions and trips were always exciting. As a band, we made those events more entertaining, not only on the field, but by playing practical jokes and other gags on each other. I don't think I could ever erase those days, even if I tried.
And respect. I respected my band director, not only as a teacher, but also as a person. I had the opportunity of being trombone section leader my junior and senior years and was able to work hand-in-hand with my director who taught me numerous life lessons. He single handedly turned a rebellious teenager into a young man fit for the "real" world. I left high school knowing a lot, not just thinking I did. He was the influence that helped me realize my strengths, my weaknesses and my faults, and taught me how to utilize each one of them to my fullest potential.
So next time you have an extra dollar or quarter, don't hesitate to drop it in the jar requesting donations at the local supermarket for the local band or placing it in the bucket at a roadblock. Without music, we would live in a quiet world.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.

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