Who IS Big Benford, really?

One of the hardest sections of my site I’ve had to upkeep or write accurately about is the “About Me” section. This is really a difficult question to answer — “Who IS she, really?” I am a complex person trying to live simply. So does that make me an oxymoron?

I’m 32, not married but not single, 6 years out of college — which was several chapters of my life — and in full swing of my career as a band director. Actually, being a band director is not just a career, it’s really a lifestyle. I’ve grown up in this lifestyle so it takes a lot for me to see the rest of the world doesn’t function as the band world does. The nice thing is, many, many people I run into have participated in band or have kids that are band kids so they understand the world in which I live.

Many days, it’s a very easy world for me to live in. I’ve been on one side or another of this world for a majority of my life. Now that I’ve spent a few years on the educator side, I’m learning some of the struggles I’d been afraid of. The world of the band director always seemed to me like “A Man’s World” because it is. It is filled with “Old Boys” and their “Clubs” and women who enter this world can be pat on the head, given the paperwork to process and the colorguard to teach (whether they know how to or not). I’ve always blamed this “Old Boys Club” for keeping anchor on our glass ceiling. I’m starting to see that it isn’t quite the case.

Being a high school band director is very time consuming. Many evenings and Saturdays are filled with rehearsals, concerts, meetings and festivals or contests. I don’t even want to try to count exactly how many 12+ hour days I’ve put in this past one year alone. It’s a wonder my apartment is somewhat clean and my cats aren’t completely bitter and angry with me.

And Len…it’s amazing we haven’t killed each other (or ourselves) trying to maintain our relationship, when you think about it. Somehow, we’ve managed to talk everyday since we started talking a year ago. We see each other about every other week and we haven’t gone more than 3 weeks without seeing each other. Those 3 week periods have been few & far between as well. We spent Thanksgiving, a good majority of winter break, Spring Break, and birthdays (mine, his and family) together, as well as 2 seperate weeks off on vacation this summer. We’ve been very fortunate that our busy schedules have synced so well this past year. They say that love comes knocking when you’re not looking for it. This was certainly true with meeting Len. I guess those sayings exist for a reason.

So, I’m finding there are LOTS of women band directors in the middle schools around Texas. Do they not aspire to more? Are they not hungry for the higher level literature attainable by high school groups? Can they just not find jobs in high schools? Are they intimidated by these old boys who seem to dominate (but are retire) from the high school scene? No…it takes less time for anyone to be a band director in the middle schools. They don’t have to deal with as many after school & weekend events in middle school so they have more time for their families being middle school directors.

On one hand, I want to be married and have a family. On the other hand, I want to be a head high school band director and conduct groups that can handle the meaty pieces of literature I’ve fallen in love with through my own personal education. I don’t think I have to choose one or the other…I have two hands on my body. Why can’t I learn to make them work with each other? I’ve looked for women who are successful HS head band directors I can call on to be mentors. That’s a hard find in Texas. Most women band directors are either assistants (again, potentitally a bit easier on the schedule) or they’re not the family type — if you know what I mean. I look at my professional associations and find most women teach choir, elementary music, or are assistant band directors or teach middle school band. One association I belong to has a spouses section of their convention which is geared totally for women! What about if we’re a woman who’s spouse isn’t a band director…or even interested in the band thing? I guess they won’t be coming to the convention, huh? I have found that there is a national group of women band directors. Turns out, I just missed their summer meeting which happened to be here in Austin. I was out of town that week so maybe next year. Their membership year runs Jan. thru Dec. so maybe I’ll look into joining next January. Maybe not. I’m not necessarily seeing major benefits on their website. Maybe I’ll contact one or two of the women from Austin that I can figure are members and see. Maybe I’ll just contact them to get their take on this quandry I have. I don’t know. I’ve got to figure it out. I know you can’t have everything you want in life.

Family & career…they make inspiring movies about women who can achieve both. Usually, the women end up running themselves ragged and end up with a drug or alcohol addiction. I know I don’t want that. I guess the answer comes one step at a time and with a lot of support from many different people. Anyone know a good shrink?

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