Department of English

Fall 2008 Edition

Band Jocks

Austin Twitchell
Argumentative 1010 1st Place
Professor: Dr. Robin Calland

Why do many individuals stereotype people of the musical persuasion as being square and nerdy? Most people’s idea of a geek is someone who has no life besides his or her school work or video games; or, in the band geek’s area, practicing his or her clarinet. If a group of football players walked down the halls of a high school and happened to pass the band room, they would automatically think that the room was full of greasy nerds. Most wouldn’t even pause to listen to the beautiful music being put together or the catchy rhythms pulsing through the halls. I took four years of band at Cedar City High School, and there are many things that prove the contrary to these common beliefs. Many people believe that students who participate in band are nerds, but this is not true; most band students are well-rounded people because they are involved in sports, clubs, are good individuals, and consistently seem to get good grades.

Many band students that I had the privilege of playing with are involved in sports or clubs. We had an incredible cross country team all four years that I attended Cedar High. We took state several years in a row, and usually showed up many of the much bigger 5A schools. But every time a cross country meet coincided with a day we had band, it was incredibly obvious. About half the band was on the team, and many of them were important runners who helped bring home the region and state trophies. Needless to say, when we showed up for band on the days of cross country meets, we couldn’t get much done because we would be missing entire sections of the band. It was like being in a nightmare where we showed up to school forgetting that it was a school-excused holiday. We would go through a normal rehearsal, get to a certain place in a piece of music (and many times more than one place), and there would be an awkward silence where a whole missing section would normally play.

Although many people in band were involved with cross country, there were still others who held key roles in other sports teams. I, along with four or five other band students, played football all four years in high school. Most of the band players who also played football started on the varsity team. I started as a junior and a senior on the varsity team as left tackle on the offensive line, and we had winning records and won region trophies both years. Not too bad for a bunch of band geeks! There were also many others who participated in other sports and clubs. More than a handful of band members played multiple sports while juggling homework and practicing their instruments. There were many who enjoyed being in German, French, Athena, and many other clubs on top of all this and also did lots of service for the community. There were tons of activities that went along with each club and meetings almost every week for most, so those involved were pretty busy. Band students don’t sacrifice their athletic ability or their ability to help others when they play a musical instrument.

Just because most kids who are musically inclined seem to get good grades doesn’t make them geeks. One of the sad things that seem to be prevalent in some public schools is that if a student gets good grades, he or she is thought of as a nerd and must not have a life outside of school. This generalization and discrimination is one of the reasons why band kids often receive the “geek” label. I have noticed that the majority of students who are attracted to band and enjoy it get above average grades in their other classes. Band seems to create a sort of discipline that is useful in other academics, or maybe the stimulation one’s brain gets from making music somehow primes the creator for other learning throughout the day. There are, of course, exceptions to this. There are always a few who earn an ‘F’ and don’t get to go on the band trips, but usually these few don’t enjoy band and don’t participate anyway.

Band also seems to attract good kids. Individuals who would rather be out smoking cigarettes or partying aren’t interested in paying to rent an instrument and practice every day. So even though band students seem to get better than average grades, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything better to do. Band just seems to attract and produce good students and helps them become skilled and more open-minded to other things.

There were tons of band students who created furniture in Woodshop, made cups and bowls that actually didn’t leak in Ceramics, produced masterpieces in Art, and cooked tasty treats in Foods; these facts contribute further to how well-rounded band students are. Many also participated in the associated clubs (like ceramics club or art guild) and helped organize and plan the trips and activities. In addition, a good portion of the students in my symphonic band class took more than one AP or concurrent enrollment class in math, chemistry, history, and others. We didn’t do what most people expect of band geeks; we didn’t just practice our instruments all day and hang out in the band room during all our free time. We had very busy lives for high school students and we found time to fit most everything that we needed to into our busy schedules. In addition to all this, my fellow students found time to shut down another idea that most people get when they picture the average socially-challenged band student: the idea that they don’t care about their appearances or have any social skills. Although there were a few exceptions, as there always are, the vast majority of Cedar High’s band were clean, good-looking kids who had good hygiene and cared about their appearances. In fact, we happened to have several student body officers and representatives each year in my symphonic band class. And it takes some social skills and ability to be liked by others to achieve those positions. With all of these examples of versatility and activeness, it is easy to see that, in general, us “band geeks” are indeed very well-rounded and exceptional people.

In conclusion, we band students do not fit into the category of “geek” as many people label us. We are not socially or athletically deficient. One only has to look past this stereotype at the reality of the matter to see for him or herself. Band students are stellar people and are involved in a variety of activities that give them much of the experience that they need to be good, well-rounded individuals and to be successful in their future lives.