High School Demons

Today I returned to my High School to watch my daughter perform at the annual Music Booster Auction. The auction lasts all day interspersed with performances from all music groups from grades 5 through 12. It is the first time I've attended since graduating 20 years ago. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Music was a very important and prominent part of my high school career. I was in band, choir and the show choir, every musical, took music theory and a self directed history of music. I was Drum Major, Vice Pres of the Band, Choir President and Band Librarian. Everyone expected that I'd go on to major in music and teach--probably choral. Little did they know how much I hated it.

I hated how it defined me and how it limited me. I hated how so many kids band, choir and drama cared so deeply and passionately for these programs--how they invested their whole identity in being a "Band Geek". I hated how I continued to find myself being looked up to by friends, underclassmen and even parents as a leader. I had a modicum of talent, a flair for the dramatic and the willingness to make a fool of myself. For this I was put on a pedestal. I was Mr. Music, class of '88.

Yes, I have demons from my high school days.

It is still so frustrating thinking back on those days. I loved making the music. I long for playing in band or in a choir again. I miss it so much. I don't miss the expectations and the pressure. I don't miss tyring to push my defining boundaries beyond what others perceived. I don't miss trying to get others to understand me as someone other than Mr. Music. Sure, close friends and family knew, but you know how easy it is to be labeled in high school. Of course, little did I realize everyone was chafing against this pigeonholing.

So, fast forward 20 years and now I have a daughter that is entering into this world I have tried to put behind me. I am excited for her and her self confidence. I'm happy to see her enjoying alto sax and choir. I am fighting my demons for her sake. But, at the auction today, I found myself wanting to crawl out of my skin. Too many memories. Too many old, familiar faces saying that it figured I'd have a child involved in music. New worries about the expectations that will be on my daughter. Too many calls from the boosters for my time and money.

I am still burnt out on high school music.

I realize that this post is a whiny, petulant piece of drivel. Completely irrational and woefully egotistical. I share this because it is out of these feelings that my adult musical life has been shaped and molded. It is why I took up the guitar so I could make music on my own terms.

I'm not sure what to do. I want and need to support my daughter. But I just don't have the energy to involve myself back into that world.


  1. Alkelda the Gleeful said...
    I don't have any specific words of wisdom, not that you asked for any.;) But you know, people will say what people will say. When I went into library school, so many people said, "You're following in your mother's footsteps," when it wasn't that way at all. I hadn't even considered librarianship until my junior year of college.

    I'm glad your daughter is doing cool things with music. I hope you can find a way to be supportive of her in a way that isn't agony for you. I'm curious to find out what my own daughter is going to do with music... it's all there, but I've resisted the temptation to send her to lessons. More on this in email.
    K. Jay said...
    Thanks Al. People mean well. I know they do. It makes me wonder how many times I rely on platitudes with people and end up telling them the very thing they don't want to hear. Peace.
    Cooking Mama said...
    Oh . .how I can relate!! My daughter is going down somewhat of the same path I did in high school with music. I'm scared for her. In some ways I would never do it all over again. And sometimes I think I would do it again and overcome the stereotypes that come with it all.
    Amish Guitar said...
    Thanks for stopping by CM! Thankfully the stereotypes aren't quite the same at Fairfield these days as there was in my day so hopefully daughter #1 won't have the same emotional minefield I had.

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