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When I was in middle school, every sixth grader was required to take a fine art for the year. That meant either taking band, orchestra, or choir. Of course, for the musically-inclined, or those who just want to try something new, this may seem like a delight, but I know not everyone likes shelling out hundreds–if not thousands–of dollars to pay for an alto saxophone or a brand new cello (or voice lessons for those choir students who were born with their instrument). That’s not to mention having to dedicate hours a week both during and outside of school to hone your skills. Nevertheless, even though I only continued my fine art (specifically band) up to the end of eighth grade, I think that there are aspects about these organizations that really help you meet new people and make friends.

You’re Forced to Spend Lots of Time With Others

While this is phrased in a way that makes this seem like something to dread, it doesn’t have to be. At the start of fall semester, you’ll be in a class of kids who you’ll be practicing and rehearsing with before school, after school, or even during weekends, until at least winter–if not longer, depending on how often your school holds auditions. Some of your classmates you might already know, while others may be complete strangers or people you only recognize because Facebook keeps trying to make you add them as a friend. Unlike calculus or history, music classes tend to foster a sense of camaraderie–after all, even if you’re individual musicians, during rehearsals and on stage, you’re all working to create something that includes all of you. Not only that, but typically once you get to a certain level, your band, orchestra, or choir will be filled with people of all grades, from freshmen to seniors, so there is more variety in the people you’ll be with.

So if you’re spending so much time together, you might as well get to know each other, be it by striking up a conversation on the bus ride to a state competition or even while you’re casually emptying your spit valves.

You Have to Work With Each Other

So maybe you’re a soprano who just can’t seem to hit that high G. Or maybe there’s a few measures your concert piece whose rhythm just seems impossible. Well, whether you’re in band, choir, or orchestra, you’ll have peers to help you out–and since a performance judged based on how the ensemble does as a whole (excepting solo parts, of course), there’s more incentive for people to work together to improve. There might always be a slacker or two in the orchestra who never practices and doesn’t seem to care, but even so, chances are that you’re still surrounded by a bunch of other motivated and passionate individuals who want to cooperate to excel. And even if you don’t know someone, if you just spend half an hour or so with them perfecting that cantabile part in measure forty-two, I can pretty much guarantee that both of you will be more comfortable with each other.

Concerts and Trips Can Be Excellent Bonding Opportunities

Depending on how often you hold them, concerts can be something to groan about or something to enjoy; your winter performance could be filled with holiday cheer or the pieces you’ve rehearsed so many times you’ve gotten sick of them. However you feel about concerts, the fact remains that whatever you’re feeling, you’re feeling along with a multitude of others. The simple elation of having accomplished something in a group to be shown to an audience can be a powerful unifier. Also, something I regret about quitting band so early on is that I never got the chance to go on a band trip. Whether you’re riding a bus to a nearby city or flying to another state (or country!), the memories made can be invaluable. I know of friendships forged simply because a couple of strangers had to room together on a trip to Disney World. The frequency of these probably vary depending on the resources of your particular school’s organization, however.

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