Famous musicians often sing about living a celebrity lifestyle, but for high school students there is another reality.
“There are more activities and more sports, there’s more stuff to do,” says Jay Stanek, History teacher about the life of an average high school student. Stanek, who has played in bands in high school and still plays today, notes that “finding time to do an extra, extra curricular activity like a band can be challenging,”
High school is a time when musicians can start to become more serious about their music. They can form bands with people who share their interests as well as improve their solo and group playing.
However, high school students face challenges that contrast with the dream-like lives described in songs that play on the radio. The biggest obstacle is carving out opportunities to write songs and develop band cohesion.
Being in a band does not excuse students from doing schoolwork. Band members still attend their classes and do their homework, as well as partake in school-related extra-curricular activities, such as sports, marching band, and community service projects.
Sophomore Noah Roth says that his band, The Oxford Comma, had a lot more time to practice during the summer. When school is in session, opportunities to practice decrease. “There was a while when we would practice once or twice a week,” states Roth, adding that his band will try to find some extra time to practice in preparation for a show.
“If you love to do it you’re going to make time,” says senior Zoe Minzenberger, who was a member of The Funky Seahorse Surprise Party. “You move your schedule around to do what you like to do.” She adds that bands must optimize their time inside and outside of school if they want to work on bigger projects.
Managing one’s time rings true for Roth. “For the past couple of months we’ve been recording an album,” he states. Most high school students aren’t supported by a record label. They must practice their music in their basement or garage, and use their own computers and recording equipment if they wish to make and album.
Similarly, high school kids rarely have booking agents or promoters that can help get big gigs. The venues are small, with shows being held in garages or local cafes. “One time they actually had us play at lunch,” states Stanek, about one of his high school band shows at his school. There aren’t thousands of people showing up to see high school bands play, but that can be a good thing. Shows are more intimate and people know each other as well as the band, which contrasts with the experience of seeing concerts at a venue like the Aragon.
The life of a high school student can be stressful. The homework seems to be never-ending and the extra curricular activities take up a lot of a student’s free time. But ETHS students continue to rock on to their own beats.