My D really like both the band director and the percussion director when she talked to them on her visit last month. The band as a whole rehearses 4-5:30 M-F but you have to be aware that the percussion (both drumline and front ensemble) does an additional 6-9:30 or so on Wednesdays (which makes a huge commitment that day) and probably needs more time for setup/takedown than other sections. I can't give you a real feel for how much additional time is spent on weekends with home/away games or other activities.
When we visited, both the computer science professor that D talked to and the Dean of Engineering stressed how important they think it is for even engineering students to get out of the classroom/library/lab and do other things. If D goes to Alabama, I'm sure she'll audition for marching band (front ensemble also) but she may take a lighter load in the fall semester to accommodate the time commitment.
My freshman drumline son regrets doing MDB and will not be participating next year. He LOVES gameday and has made some great friends but the time commitment is too much for him. He is not a big fan of the percussion director either, which doesn't help. In addition to the weekly sectional STEMFamily mentioned, the percussionists usually have to report earlier than the rest of the band for weekday practices. We visited him in September and got a taste of how much of his weekend is dedicated to band. Friday practice didn't end until almost 6 and then he still had to put equipment away, shower and change before we could go to dinner. It was an 8pm game but he had practice Saturday morning then had to report back around 6pm. The game was over by 11:30 but they are among the last to leave the stadium and still have to walk back to Moody to undress, etc. It was about 1:30am before we were going to get pizza on the Strip. Needless to say, he sleeps late on Sundays. I will miss trying to spot him in the stands on Saturdays but academics before extracurriculars.
^^^That was a very honest report which will be helpful to many prospective students, especially scholarship students. While many parents want to see their students actively engaged in extracurricular activities, it is important not to over stretch when a scholarship is involved. That is why picking one or two activities is usually enough to meet friends and get involved.
My freshman percussionist son decided against the MDB but selected instead to participate in one of the band ensembles. He enjoys being in concert band as it meets only one night a week which gives him his music 'fix' but allows plenty of time for academics and other extra-curricular activities. He is VERY happy with his decision although I, admittedly, wish I could watch him march on TV each week.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm not going to push it. My S is a good musician, but it's not his passion. Sounds like too much of a commitment for something he's not that interested in. The PC gaming club on the other hand...
RTRmom2: Right, it's good that you pointed out that there are other options for musically inclined students. There are classes for non-majors, there are ensembles for both instrument and voice, and there are open-mic nights on campus, all of which can give kids their musical enjoyment "fix".
RTRMom2, even if your son were in the MDB, you probably would not see him marching on TV each week. TV rarerly shows the band. Maybe a few quick shots during the game, and a split-second shot or two during half-time as they go to commercials. You can see more on YouTube than on network TV or ESPN.
That's one of the beauties of the DVR's and HD TV. We have managed to freeze the TV picture and pick out DS every game except one so far this year. Makes it nice for mama to see him and know that everything appears to be going well.
As for the time needed for the MDB, it is a lot. As mentioned before standard (non drumline) band is about 2 hours a day every day. On game day you can figure all day Saturday for a home game and Friday mid-day through Sunday morning for an away game if the full band travels. Two away games were pep band only this year.
On the "other" side of the coin, DS has LOVED every minute of it. The games are electric, having the built in base of friends is great and the band is actually treated with respect (in comparison to how a high school band is treated). DS has had nothing but great experiences with the MDB. He is holding down 18 hours (including band) as a first term Freshman and is managing to maintain A's in all classes so it can be done. (BioChem Engr major, so the classes are not pushovers)
My son played percussion, bass guitar, and double bass in pep band, pit band, marching band, jazz band, and orchestra for 4 years. Pit band was particularly time consuming. They started practicing months before the show and in the weeks leading up to the performance he was going to school at 7:30 and coming home at 10, plus practicing on the weekend.
I think he's a little burned out, and the teacher didn't make it fun.
He's able to do well in HS taking the most challenging classes doing a minimal amount of study, but I don't know how much more demanding college will be.
My advice as a music parent would be to encourage your students to sign up for as many things as they think they can handle that they are passionate about. The busier someone is, the better they seem to handle being busy, especially if they enjoy what they are doing. I believe that our modern day HS students are quite overloaded by activities, and this prepares them well for handling the pressures of college. When they get to college, they seem to have a lot of "free" time. It is spread out differently throughout the week than in HS, but they really do have substantial amounts of unstructured time in college. Keeping busy at UA early on has helped my S manage his time.
Like any great opportunity, MDB can no doubt be a huge commitment, but also such a huge reward. Do not be afraid that things will be too much - you can always drop out of something if it can no longer be managed. Ask your student if they DON'T apply or go for something, will they always be disappointed in what might have been? When I ask that of my S, he usually goes for things, and never looks back.
Remember for those traveling down in late Jan/early Feb, there is some sort of Honor Band thing to try and get in on, if you're serious about band. That was the time frame last year - check University Bands site for more info. University Bands has its own scholarship program...and there are participation scholarships (or small stipends) for students. (I'm an orchestra parent from the School of Music and don't know more; the MDB falls under the University Bands umbrella. They are two separate entities.)