Andover’s musicians often find themselves running from classes, to athletics, to ensemble rehearsals without a moment to breathe. For these students, it can be nearly impossible to pursue their art form because of the demanding, time-consuming nature of other activities at Andover. But as a school that encourages students to pursue all their interests, Andover should take advantage of the upcoming schedule changes to support students’ interests.
The Blue Book states that ensemble rehearsal time “is protected for students participating in musical ensembles; rehearsals take priority over any scheduled event (extracurricular, co-curricular or academic) on campus.” Few students and faculty, however, seem to be aware of this protected music rehearsal time, resulting in events or practices being scheduled in conflict with music rehearsal. Students must either choose to miss rehearsals or to skip these other events, neither of which is ideal.
Additionally, Andover’s athletic requirement poses a great conflict for student musicians. Musicians who participate in competitive athletics often have practices that extend late into the evening, cutting into their rehearsal time. Even LIFE sports pose conflicts as they might be scheduled at later hours to avoid location conflicts. When athletic practices do not interfere directly with rehearsal, though, students may still find that they must either skip dinner or arrive even later for music rehearsal, which is detrimental both to the student’s musical education and to the group, whose rehearsals are interrupted.
This sort of conflict is not exclusive to musicians. Andover students, by and large, participate in many extracurricular and athletic activities with conflicting meeting times. Music rehearsal conflicts point to a larger issue at Andover: we, as students, are often unable to pursue our interests with the rigor we would like because there is simply not enough time in the day. It is nearly impossible to complete all schoolwork thoroughly, attend athletic practices and participate in extracurricular activities, let alone get enough sleep and have fun with friends.
The 2014 Strategic Plan highlights “Empathy & Balance” as one of its Strategic Priorities, according to its website. The initiatives to support this goal include “further [incorporating] social-emotional learning into our educational program.” These initiatives, however, should extend to concrete advancements in the nature and organization of our schedules, such as enforced protected times beyond music rehearsals, clearer communication practices between teachers and leaders, a more manageable distribution of classes and more feasible homework assignments.
Of course, Andover was never going to be easy. We opted to attend this school because we want to work hard. But we are still teenagers, and this level of stress and work is inevitably unsustainable and unhealthy. We hope that the new schedule changes the faculty members have worked so hard on will actually reflect the goals of “Empathy and Balance,” thereby allowing us to work hard without sacrificing our well-being.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVIII.