Students leave band for other activities

Commitment involved has led a number of students to take up other pursuits vs. Emerald Brigade

Band+numbers+decline+as+students+make+a+difficult+decision+to+prioritize+other+commitments+over+band.+ illustration/SOPHIE CRISCIONE

Band numbers decline as students make a difficult decision to prioritize other commitments over band.

Every high school has its staple programs. For Whitney, it’s their stellar media department. For Del Oro, it’s their wide variety of sports programs. For Granite Bay High, it’s not only our sport and tech programs, but an award-winning band to back it up.

While the majority of band members typically decide to spend all four years in the program, some instead move on to other musical endeavors. Since the beginning of the spring semester, a number of juniors and seniors have taken this path.

“It happens every year,” said music teacher and band director Lynn Lewis, who has been running the program for 15 years. “Students decide to move on to something else, and we always respect their decision.”

While a portion of students do eventually leave the band each year, it doesn’t affect those who are still performing much. 

“The students we have here are great,” Lewis said. “We have three (seniors) in honor band right now, and Amanda Batiste is one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.”

While there is a large multitude of students who began their band careers in high school, an even larger portion of the musicians performing come from middle school band programs. Senior Amanda Batiste, the band president, had been performing in band for years before coming to GBHS.

Although most who have left between seasons are in her grade, Batiste is sticking through until the end of her leadership role.

“I mean, a lot of the time people quit between marching season and concert season, so it’s not too out of the usual,” Batiste said. “I just think it’s strange that it’s my class.” 

I mean, a lot of the time people quit between marching season and concert season, so it’s not too out of the usual.

— Amanda Batiste

It is also worth noting that almost all students who have left the GBHS program are continuing their music careers outside of high school.  

“Honestly, I just think it wasn’t entirely their thing, and that’s OK,” Batiste said. “I want people to do what’s best for them and if leaving is what’s best, that’s what they have to do.”

Many of those who are leaving and continuing their careers say that they will always be passionate about music, no matter the program they’re involved in. 

“I started getting involved in drum corps … it was such a load on my plate that I decided to weigh the positives and negatives,” said Nick Sanchez, a senior who stayed in the program until the recent season switch.

While the band is able to perform incredible shows, this comes at a cost of around 30 hours a week of practice, which can add up quickly and easily overwhelm participants.

“I try to put my mental health first, and more often than not I’ll do something to please others rather than helping myself, so I wanted to put myself first this time and make sure I’m happy,” Sanchez said.

Keaton Brasse, a senior who joined freshman year and had been drumming since middle school, said his experience was similar.

“It was something that made me very happy for a long time that I was very passionate about, but the balance of the time commitment and what I felt I was getting out of it shifted to where it was no longer proportional,” Brasse said.   

While both he and Sanchez said that the experience overall was a net positive, it was time for him to move on.

“If it ain’t lit, it ain’t it,” Brasse said.