What Happens on Band Camp…

If you were to sit me down one day and say, “Katie, I am so incredibly fascinated by your entire life story – pray tell me, what was your favourite thing about secondary school?” then my answer would be, simply: Band.

I ended up in Band by pure chance, which is just as well, because I have a terrible habit of holding myself back from trying exciting things by telling myself all of the ways it will go wrong. Luckily for me, my Year 7 history teacher just happened to have taken over the Band programme and she decided to look for a piano player in our class for complicated reasons that would bore you should I go into them. The short version goes like this: I was there; I played piano; I’d passed the highest AMEB exam of the piano players in the class – I was in.

All of my best memories of secondary school revolve around Band and my VCE History class, because I had an amazing History teacher who gave us lollipops in our last class and told us to save them for the exam because having a lollipop in our mouth would make our brains work better. I’m not sure how that would have gone down in exam conditions, so it’s lucky we all dealt with our lollipops long before the exam turned up.

But as much as I loved History, Band was even better.

Band got you out of class for rehearsals; it introduced you to friends you’d never otherwise meet; it sent you on excursions for the day when your peers were stuck with their regular timetable of classes. Band got you behind the scenes of the school and allowed you to meet teachers in a more informal setting. Best of all, Band made sure music was part of your everyday life and even taught you things such as leadership, compromise and patience (because conductors don’t always appreciate it when you play cards during your 100-bar rest).

BLOG Old Band Photo SM

You can find me third from the right, playing the keyboard.

Should you be so thrilled by my stories of History classes and Why Band Is Awesome (Parts 1 to 7,829,903) and desperate to know more, I would further explain to you that the best part of Band was Band Camp.

Band Camp allowed you to get away for three days of playing music, spending time with friends and not being at school. We always ended up somewhere rural and bushy, far away from our normal lives. Unlike your run-of-the-mill year level camps, where you’re forced to spend time with people whose only common ground with you is that you’re roughly the same age, Band Camp ensured you spent time with people who loved music as much as you did.

Oh, and that saying, What happens on Band Camp stays on Band Camp? Yeah, that didn’t apply to me; I bored my non-Band friends for days afterwards with stories of Band Camp to the point where they must have either a) felt like they’d been there, or, b) wished I’d never gone.

I didn’t study music when I left school, which meant I had all of this love for music and no-one with whom to play it. If there was one lesson Band had taught me, it was that the whole point of music was to play it with other people. Playing the piano came close, but I still missed making harmonies with dozens of other people. I even missed the mock-feuds we had with the trumpets once I became a flute player (other flute players will understand this).

So I stopped playing, except every now and then when I dusted off the piano or slotted my flute together to see if I still knew how to make them work. It just wasn’t the same, but short of smartening up my flute-playing skills and joining a symphony orchestra, I didn’t know what to do. What was I meant to do with all of this music that I needed to play with other people?

The answer came a few years ago when I heard about a nearby community band. I should join that, I thought to myself. That would be a great way to get back into music. But hot on the heels of enthusiasm came the ever-predictable doubts, thanks to my bad habit of anticipating doom on little to no evidence: What if I’m not good enough? What if I’ve forgotten everything about playing music? What if I don’t fit in?

So instead of running up and joining straight away, I gave it a year or two before I finally summoned up the courage to go to a rehearsal and find out more. “You should join the Concert Band,” I was told, when I explained I hadn’t played in ages and was a bit nervous. “That would be a perfect introduction for you.”

There was no getting out of it now: I was expected.

After my first rehearsal with the Concert Band (having not played with a group since secondary school), I found myself volunteering to play at a performance the next day. Nerve-wracking? Yes. One of the best things I ever did? Definitely.

I was hooked on music again, counting down the days to each week’s rehearsal and lamenting the fact that we took a break for school holidays. Eventually, I summoned up the courage to challenge myself in the more advanced Wind Symphony, but I’ll always keep playing with the Concert Band because it has a special place in my heart. It’s a smaller group and the music is a little easier, which means we can have more fun and engage in a bit of silliness. And just like Band at school, the people are the best part.

It does feel just like being in Band at school, except for one thing… Then something happened that I thought would never happen to me again: I went on Band Camp.

I’m so glad I told my doubts to shut-up and just went for it. Otherwise I’d be sitting here, never having gone on this band camp and unable to find my flute for the build-up of dust on its case.

Is there something you want to do? A little voice that says, “I should get back into that thing I used to love”? Take my advice and do it, no matter how rusty you think you might be, or how bad you fear you might be at it. You might be like me, imagining all the worst things. I’ll be horrible it. Maybe I wasn’t that great after all. The people won’t like me…

The truth is, the worst thing that could happen is that you’ll miss out on an amazing opportunity.

The best thing that could happen? Well, that’s up to us to find out.

15 thoughts on “What Happens on Band Camp…

  1. This story is very similar to one of mine. As a result of my childhood piano playing (not very good, perhaps average with some practice), when my husband says “When can we get rid of the piano? (The one I haven’t played in 20 years) I say NEVER. You never know, one day I might have time to play again and send the cats running from the room.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, hang on to the piano forever! I do like having an electric piano because it means I can whack on some headphones and no-one will ever know I’m not poised on the verge of a magnificent career as a virtuoso.

      Have fun on that day when you decide to give the piano a whirl again. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a similar experience of being in the choir at school – loved it to bits but let it fall by the wayside as an adult and don’t sing anywhere near as much as I’d like to as a result. Perhaps I should go find a local choir to join!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The lollipop teacher sounds extremely sensible!
    No one laments the fact that I no longer play piano (I got up to grade 6 and gave it up as it was too taxing in the later years of high school) but I do kind of miss having one at my disposal… my mum got rid of it as no one was playing it 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She was an amazing teacher, even before we got to the point of lollipops. 😀

      You studied piano up to grade six – wow! I got to grade four before I decided I just wanted to play for the enjoyment of it and cut out all the pressure of learning so much theory and the ‘sing the middle note of this chord’ business.


      1. I have to say I didn’t enjoy learning at the time but it would be nice to have a piano so I could play it sometimes in free moments. But seeing as I went something like 10 years without playing it, it obviously wasn’t top priority!


  4. My youngest is in year 7, and after a few years of piano lessons he is ” taking a break” and has started trumpet lessons at school. And of course the junior school band were light on in the brass section, so he is now in the band and practicing for a concert in 3 weeks’ time!!! (” the lion sleeps tonight” in case you were wondering! I hope the school runs a band camp sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Piano is great to start with, even if you don’t take it that far. Being able to read bass clef has come in handy for me quite a few times!

      I hope your youngest’s concert goes well and I do hope there’s a band camp in his future. They really do make for some of the best memories, no matter how old you are at the time. 😀


  5. My son had a musical ear but wouldn’t learn any instruments until he was made to learn trombone in year 7. Now there’s never enough bands..!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This actually is what I needed to read! I am a senior in my high school and it’s settling in that this is my last year playing.. Sure I can play at home. But, once I graduate, I am no longer with that group. I am making a hard decision to go to college or not. College just doesn’t seem like it’s for me. When I am done with school I will be alone with my music.. No one to play with!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a difficult decision but just remember that you can go on to further study whenever you want to. Sometimes you won’t know what you really want to do until you give a couple of things a go… and then it might turn out that you want to pursue something entirely different from your original plans!

      Try and hang on to your music if you love it. I’m glad that I finally found somewhere to play music – actually, so glad that I don’t even mind that I missed out on all that time when I wasn’t able to play because actually playing and making friends with new, music-y people is just too much fun.

      Good luck with everything. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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