I  t seems like only yesterday, but in truth it was more than 20 years ago that my daughter, Stacy, was a flutist in the West York High School marching band and orchestra.

It was a wonderful experience for her. It certainly was her extracurricular activity of choice while she was in high school. In many ways, music was her sport.

Looking back on it, I'd have to say her participation in West York's music program was as meaningful as just about anything else she did during those formative years.

So in our house, it was important.

And, I might add, it was always well-respected by the community.

Still is, apparently.

Because a week or so ago, more than 100 parents, students and concerned residents of the West York Area School District attended a school board meeting to protest budget cuts affecting the music program and reports the district intended to go without a band teacher at an elementary school for the last month of the school year.

It was a real protest -- signs, speeches, the whole works.

Obviously, this was a big deal to those band parents, students and taxpayers.

And they were speaking up.

I was glad to see it.

Because, to tell you the truth, I've always thought the music programs in nearly every high school in York County tended to take a back seat to athletics when it came to funding.

Athletics first, everything else second. And not always even a close second.

And while athletes and their parents have been expected, in the last few years, to contribute to the cost of running athletic programs in some districts, it's pretty much been happening for decades in every high school music department in York County and beyond.

To be honest, it's about time athletes and athletics are held to the same funding standard as all the other extra-curricular activities available to students.

I have no problem with that at all. It's more than fair.

And I absolutely salute the parents, music students and taxpayers who are standing strong in support of the West York music program.

It is absolutely wrong, I'd agree, that the school board and administration are considering spending taxpayer dollars to renovate the gym, including new bleachers, adding a new floor, an indoor track and new lockers at the same time the music program appears to be taking a financial hit.

How so? Well, the parents are in an uproar because Trimmer Elementary School band teacher Laurie Astree apparently will be taking over classroom duties for teacher Tiffany Scarlato, who is going on maternity leave with one month to go on the school calendar.

And the school district had decided to let the band position sit empty through the end of the school year. What that means is students will miss about four weeks of music instruction and three band practices before school shuts down for the summer.

The music parents don't like it.

They're worried that their children will fall behind or lose interest in music during the possible four-week layoff.

But district officials did say they made a good-faith effort to find a replacement for the band slot, and couldn't. So maybe it's one of those things that just can't be helped.

As a former band/music parent, I don't think the West York parents have too much to worry about.

It amounts to a 10-week summer vacation being turned into a 14-week vacation from the school music program. And even then, for those kids who really love music and want to be good at it, there will be the private weekly music lessons to fall back on.

And if you think about it, how many weeks of music instruction are lost during the year because of family vacations during the summer months or the frequent days and weeks lost to holidays, teacher in-service days and week-long spring recesses during the school year?

Music parents have every reason to be alert to changes in music instruction and funding. And to protest when it happens.

But this might not be the slight to which they should hitch their wagon.

Don't sweat the small stuff, in other words.

And it does seem to me that this is relatively small stuff.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.