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Marching bands offer a path to a college degree

By Staff | Dec 3, 2009

Money… that is the main culprit behind so many high school students not going to college, and why so many college students don’t obtain a degree. We want to go to school, and we want to stay in school, but we can’t afford it!

Sure, there are other reasons, but the majority and underlying truth is that people cannot afford it. Especially now in this downward spiraling economy, folks are finding it increasingly more difficult to go to and stay in college.

So how do we pay for college? Scholarships and loans are available, but think of this — there is an awful lot of work that goes into the process: interviews, community service, letters of recommendation, forms to fill out, deadlines to meet, etc.

There also isn’t a guarantee that you’re going to get it. If you apply for loans, remember that it’s going to have to eventually be paid back (sometimes with interest). You don’t want to spend your first paychecks — maybe even first 50 paychecks — paying back your college loan.  

Here’s the alternative: marching band. Not to denounce the validity of the previously mentioned alternatives, but there is nothing simpler to getting into and through college than joining the university marching band.

It’s a hidden secret among those “in the know.” Why this straightforward concept isn’t more “well-known” is beyond me.

The terms differ between each school, but you need to know that many colleges and universities offer some type of tuition waiver or stipend to members of their marching bands as an incentive to join. All you have to do is sign up for the class upon registering — that’s it!

Naturally, you would have to contact the individual school’s director of bands to get information about it, but essentially, it is as simple as signing up for the class.

For students to even have a chance of joining a college or university band program, they need to participate in the band programs at the middle and high school levels.

I mention this to incoming freshmen and their families during registration, but the thought of college is far in their minds. Please keep the notion of “going to college” as one of your child’s priorities! I encounter countless juniors and seniors who have left or not even enrolled in a band program. They finally start worrying about college and tell me that they wish they enrolled in band, so they could take advantage of this opportunity.

This is, in part, why I urge students to enroll in band. I urge parents to support their child’s decision to join the band. Being in band can help get students into and through college.

As a community, as parents, as students, as Americans — isn’t that what we desire? Don’t we all want to live the “American Dream?”

Registration is coming up soon at Lahainaluna, and this is something I ask the students and parents to discuss. The Lahainaluna High School Band Program is an excellent program, and our students love what they do. Let’s keep the fire burning! Imua Lahainaluna!

(Myron K. M. Carlos, a graduate of Lahainaluna High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, holds a degree in Secondary Music Education. Currently, he is the music director at Lahainaluna and teaches the Concert Band, Concert Choirs, Pep and Marching Band, and Jazz Band. Visit the Lahainaluna Music website at www.lahainalunamusic.org.)