Kids Missing Once-in-Lifetime Inauguration Performance…All Because Band Leaders Refuse to Attend

The path that took Donald Trump to the White House broke the mold in a number of ways, and early reports indicate that his presidential inauguration will be no different.

According to a report from NBC 4 Washington, Trump’s inauguration will mark the first time in two decades that a band from Washington, D.C. — which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton — will not perform during an inauguration.

As one D.C. public school spokeswoman told reporters, “she was not aware of any band in the district that had applied to participate in President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade Jan. 20.”

According to various officials, it’s all a result of things like budgetary restraints or their schools going through rebuilding years.

University of Maryland band director Eli Osterloh, on the other hand, pointed to “an unwritten rule that some bands wait 10 years before reapplying, as a courtesy to other applicants.”

Still, not everyone thinks that’s what’s really going on, like former Democratic National Committee chair and one-time presidential hopeful Howard Dean:

The band director at Washington’s Howard University, John Newson, also suggested that “many band directors’ and school administrators’ political beliefs” are likely playing a role in the decision, as NBC 4 notes:

“I think everybody knows why and no one wants to say and lose their job.”

The Lesbian and Gay Band Association, which performed at Obama’s 2008 inauguration, was a little less vague as to why they’ve opted out of Trump’s ceremony:

“While the parade route itself should be a safe zone, we cannot hope to guarantee our safety while traveling, while rehearsing in public or while out and about in the DC area during the weekend.

All minorities are at risk and any opportunity we give the new administration to co-opt a minority organization will likely be exploited to our detriment.”

When it comes to high school musicians, though, who are missing out on a chance to perform on a national level, the story may not be the same.

As marketing director Luke Wiscombe of Music Celebrations International — which organizes school band trips across the U.S. — pointed out, the opportunity for a band to play in an event like a presidential inauguration is nothing to sniff at:

“It’s a huge deal to march on the national stage.”

Still, it sounds like this opportunity that D.C.-area school bands are missing out on is providing an opportunity for others across the country: Wiscombe has noted that schools from the South, Midwest, and Northeast have all expressed interest in performing at the president-elect’s inauguration.

When faced with a chance to provide their students with an opportunity to play on a national stage, it may be hard for students or parents to understand the mindset of a band director who would deprive kids of a once-in-a-lifetime experience because they voted for someone else.

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