An Open Letter to My Son's Band Director

The following is a conversation that I have had in my head on several occasions during the past couple of weeks. Why am I sharing it here? It's more for lack of courage than opportunity. I thought it best to test it with you before I try it with him.

This photo is from my son's band concert last Thursday.
(Phil Hatchner, my son's band director, enters the room and shakes my hand)

Hey Phil, that was a great concert last night. The kids played well, the house was packed, and it was only thirty minutes long. YO DA MAN PHIL!

Phil? Can I call you Phil?

(prolonged silence... I clear my throat)

I think it's time I shared something with you.
This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation for both of us... Well, more so for me than you. Well, actually, completely for me and not at all for you. Have a seat, I have something to tell you, er, confess, I guess.

(awkward pause ensues)

I am a total failure as a father... Brayden NEVER practices the trombone.

Okay, not as a father, but as a band parent. Okay, fair point... TOTAL failure may be a "little" strong, but a failure. Let's just settle on "failure as a band parent."

Don't blame him, he actually WANTS to practice the trombone, but I almost always make him practice piano instead. "What about those practice records?" you say. As long as we're coming clean, I mean, I 'm coming clean, you should know that I didn't even know about those until two weeks ago.

Do you hate me? Are you angry? Is Brayden going to fail band?

Please understand, as a music teacher, I want you to know that I understand the importance of practicing. These are formative years for my child, musically and otherwise, and I know that Brayden will never get these learning opportunities back.

I'm a band director for goodness sake. I should know better, and I do. And yet, I still failed. You must be so disappointed in me.

Listen... I know that you are tired. I know that you are frustrated by increasing demands and decreasing instructional time. I know I am supposed to be a role model for my son in all things musical. I know that you are concerned about budgets, job security, and the future of music education. I know that parents like me give you pause and have had you considering making a change to your career on more than one occasion.

Forgive me Phil, with football, karate, piano, homework, and family time... It's just hard. But that's no excuse.

I WILL do better Phil, I will work HARDER. I PROMISE.

But, in the likely event that this doesn't come to fruition, just know that I am thankful he has you as a teacher.

I am thankful that he wants to practice. I am thankful that he looks forward to band. I am thankful that you have been able to bring my dream to his life. I am thankful that you are doing the job that I left behind. I am thankful that you are helping him to pursue his dream of becoming the next Trombone Shorty, while I am just helping with the shorty part.

In short (no joke here Phil), I am thankful for YOU Phil.

You did say I could call you Phil, right?

Oooooh, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Mr. Hatchner!