Every summer, I volunteer as a band coach and teach little kids how to play music at Girls Rock! Chicago. And every year, someone inevitably quits the band—usually it’s only for five minutes, but still.
My first year at GR!C, I wasn’t expecting this situation. The band I was coaching had been working for almost a week in preparation for a showcase where they’d only get to perform one song. Two days before the show, the drummer presented a completely new song to her eight-year-old bandmates. It was a great song, and she’d stayed up all night working on it. But it was a little more advanced than her bandmates could play, and with the show mere days away, there just wasn’t enough time for everyone to learn the skills required. The band voted to stick with the original song they’d rehearsed all week. The drummer, devastated and, I’m guessing, humiliated in the face of her creativity being rejected by her peers, immediately quit the band and took refuge under a desk. Naturally. I had no idea what to say to get her to crawl out from under her tiny fortress, much less how to get the band back together again. I have to admit that a little piece of my heart broke off watching her hide under that desk—I can’t even tell you how many times in my life I’ve wanted to do exactly that. So I ended up telling her that, and then launched into an off-the-cuff speech about diplomacy and how sometimes you have to take one for the team and about how you have a lifetime to see a song through to fruition. Little did I know at the time, I would end up giving a version of that speech every year to the girl who quits, and little did I know, I was actually giving some advice to myself to stick it out with my own band.