M101: Band Standard Time Zone- Arrivals & Departures

The Lake Orion Marching Band has their own time zone- BST

BST (Band Standard Time) bears very little resemblance to the real world- you know, the world where you show up on time and leave when the gig is over.

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Come an hour early and leave an hour later seems to be the BST theme song.

Those of you familiar with chaos theory will pick up immediately on how to live happily within the BST zone.

But there is a method to the madness. When the schedule says "Rehearsal, 9-9”, the schedule is absolutely not lying. No, I’m not kidding. Rehearsals actually run 1-5pm or 9 to 9, as stated.

For 9 to 9s, the kids will physically be rehearsing from 9:00am to 9:00pm. At 9am sharp the staff will begin instruction and they cease all instruction at 9pm on the dot. The only exception is when practices run long in preparation for an impending big competition (but that’s kind’a logical and fairly rare).

But that one band mom said they never, ever, ever start or end on time… Relax, I’m getting there.

In order to start rehearsal precisely at 9am, your sweet child needs to follow a vital 10 step process:

  1. Arrive
  2. Socialize
  3. Find the band room
  4. Socialize
  5. Find their instrument
  6. Socialize
  7. Remember that they also need a mouthpiece, tell friend funny story as they look for missing mouthpiece… in the locker? Other locker? Backpack? At home on the kitchen table?
  8. Socialize
  9. Warmup (in between random bouts of peer to peer verbal interaction)
  10. Take a leisurely stroll to rehearsal field

Get the idea? If you drop your student off at the totally logical time of 8:45am, they’re already at least 38 minutes behind everyone else in hearing who Brittany from the clarinet section is dating this week or why the latest Destiny update was lame. This is why you have to drop them off early. They’re teenagers, I’d advise you to work with the beast rather than attempt to conquer it.

And trust me, that drop off time can get earlier and earlier depending upon the following conditions:

  • Your student is an eager beaver
  • Your student’s section leader is an eager beaver
  • Your student’s horn/wind/percussion sergeant is an eager beaver
  • Your student’s drum major is an eager beaver
  • Your student’s tech is an eager beaver

Beavers will complicate your life in direct proportion to how many join band in a given year. I’ve had to drop kids off early because of "running laps”, "polishing party”, "chop session”, "pre-rehearsal rehearsal”, and my personal favorite: "they’re making me clean out the locker because I complained that it smelled like gym socks soaked in cream of mushroom soup”. Please note that none of these early report times were reflected on the schedule; and in my eyes, none of them constituted a national emergency.

So as an experienced band parent, I ask the evening before: "What time do you need to be there?” The immediate follow up question must always be: "Who said so and why?” Then I make reasonable travel plans accordingly.


Now for dismissal time, the same system applies. Rehearsal ends exactly as listed. More than once, I’ve watched Mr. Steele watch the clock and cut the band off at the end of a measure. He really makes an effort to end on time. But here’s the rub:

  • The kids huddle for a post-rehearsal announcement time. Anyone can make an announcement.
  • Then they open it up to comment time. Anyone can make a comment.
  • Then the drum majors say something inspiring.
  • Then they chant about their chins.
  • Then they remove tape and rubbish from the football field and argue over who owns which red water jug.
  • Then they realize that all their stuff is back at the high school and the long leisurely trek ensues.
  • Please note that they socialize the whole, entire, ever-lovin’ time.
  • Once they arrive back at the high school, you can pretty much count on running the same 10 step morning arrival process, in reverse order.
  • And that all happens before it occurs to them that you might be growing eligible for social security checks in the parking lot.

There’s also something slightly cultish for brass players called "Circle of Fun”. From my observation, it isn’t circular and it doesn’t look fun, but most of them do it anyway. If your beloved one participates in Circle of Fun, that’ll set you back another 30 minutes in the let’s-get-the-heck-outta-here process.

As you can see, it isn’t the staff starting early or running late, it’s the system your child adds to the existing system that leaves you steaming behind the wheel while dinner burns in the crockpot.

The schedule states official start and stop time; it says nothing about your student’s personal BST adjustments.

From experienced band parents: tips on how to mitigate the BST effect:

  • Ask the night before- don’t assume your idea of a timely arrival/departure matches the demands of a section leader who has lusted over the reins of power for their whole life.
  • Tell your student, "Text me 15 minutes before you’re ready to be picked up”.
  • Lay down the law: "I saw you chatting with Brittany and Brittanie by the flagpole for 20 minutes. Tomorrow you must be in the car by 5:25pm or I’m leaving without you”.
  • Get out of the car and stand by the high school doors. Look like you’re having fun and that’ll make them nervous.
  • Give them the stink-eye so that they know darn-well you’re waiting… again.
  • Always pick them up a half hour later than they tell you.
  • Get them a driver’s license and ditch the unpaid taxi service.

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Hat tip to Carrie Scher for reminding me about unscheduled start and stop times.