A Questions Posed:

How many times have you looked like this in rehearsal?

Would it be better for my students if I worked 70 hour weeks, and fought tooth and nail for a better program, resulting in a better more cohesive program but with an angry, unhappy man at the helm?  OR…Take my time, spend time with my family and be a happier person, striving for the same goals as before, but taking much longer?

I have struggled with this question for some time now, and have come to the conclusion that if I was the former, I would be more unhappy, thus making the students more unhappy…then what’s the point. In any workaholic’s wake, there are those that are neglected.  I do not want to risk making my family feel that I am a non-entity in their lives.  I just don’t know what to do, or how to be happy with the balance I find.

Think, think, think…

Still Back at the ol’ Drawing Board

A motto created by my students

Who ever coined the phrase “Back to the Drawing Board” must have been an educator.  Back in August, I wrote about reinventing myself as a band director and reshaping my program.  Well, it has been a long process, and what I hae learned is that I have not reshaped my program, but evolved with it.  A music program is like a living, breathing organism.  It like an ensemble unto itself. I have seen tremendous maturation occur so far this year, and have struggled to keep up.

This year, I have begun the great adventure of trying to be both band director and choir director.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  The simple task of trying to transition between the two disciplines is mind-bending.  Fortunately, I have wonderful students who are doing a fairly good job of keeping this year in perspective and understanding that there are adjustments happening for everyone.  The learning curve has been very steep this year.

I think the most helpful change I have made this year is keeping a journal every day.  I reflect on everything from encounters with students to how a particular lesson went.  I started doing this for several reasons, among them was to gather the type of material that would be good for this blog and helpful to others.  So, going forward, I plan to share with you some of the most inspiring and insightful among my adventures this year so far.

Back to the Drawing Board

As another year begins, I am always reflective on two things:  how short the summer was, and how can I improve the beginning of the year.

As you may or may not know (depending on whether you are a teacher or not) the beginning of the year is a critical point.  It determines how the rest of your year will commence.  I have decided to do less FOR the students, and put more pressure on them to stay organized.  In the past I have spoon fed every thing to them so they all start off with everything they could possible need to be prepared.  I found that this just makes them dependant on me for the entire year.  This year they buy there own flip folders, organize their own pep band tunes, and makes sure they buy a lyre that works. 

I have also been handed the choir program at my school, so this summer has been a flurry of reorganizing what I have to accommodate a new rehearsal strategy and the new needs of the students (they also took the choir room away).  I am choosing to try and see the bright side of all of this.  Yes, it is going to be difficult to balance out the needs of two distinct programs.  It will also be hard to find the choir director in me, but it will also force me to stretch as an educator.  It will provide an opportunity to model a cool head in a difficult situation of my students, and afford me some level of achievement for future job opportunities. 

Now, on to future articles.  I am currently working on drafts of several articles for the blog that feature the use of technology that I have either tried and failed at, or used to great success.  I will also talk about some articles I have read recently about classroom management, and constructivism in the music classroom.  Back to the grind stone!

Time is a fickle friend

Sorry for the lack of posts.  The band room has been a crazy place!!!  I realized that I am the reason for my stress.  At the beginning of the year, I scheduled all of my concerts, trips, and assemblies.  Since this game is still new to me, I didn’t account for how much time each would take.  For example, a couple of weeks ago, I scheduled a trip on Thursday and a trip on Saturday.  Now, I know that seems crazy, but the group of kids going on Thursday was small, and it wasn’t that far away.  But I didn’t account for the fact that I would need to be a school by 5 a.m. on BOTH days!!  UGH!!

This week, I have a chamber music concert I scheduled, but didn’t think that a giant upcoming event in April would conflict.  Well….it has.  I am not able to practice what I need to practice for the April event, because I am stuck doing music and listening to soloists for the March event next week.  STOOPID!

Oh well.  Back to the drawing board for next year I suppose.

The last ill-panned event of the year is my recruiting trips.  I did not take into account how or when I was going to recruit.  I planned on taking a group or two down to the middle school, but that has not yet materialized.  I believe that the eighth graders register soon, and I have only made one appearance!!!  My program is DOOMED!!!  Hopefully, a great feeling of excitement for band will sweep over all of the eighth graders and propel them into my band room….um…..yeah, that’s it.

Sibelius…Make the switch!

One thing I have found to be an absolute asset to my teaching so far is my skills using Sibelius.  For those of you who don’t already know, Sibelius is a musical notation software.  It it incredibly easy to use, and you can compose orginal compositions that look professional.  As a matter of fact, Sibelius is becoming increasingly more popular on the musical publishing front.  I have done quite a bit of engraving work (preparing music for publication) for various publishers nationally, and they all used Sibelius.

For those of you who are members of the Finale Faithful, you have a great program there as well.  Early on, I could see the differences in terms of flexibility and in some advanced features in Finale being more useful, but since then Sibelius has turned things around quite a bit.   Some composers have told me they think of Sibelius as being a program for people who just want a quick and dirt score to put out.  Well, I have created some pretty incredible looking scores, and if I don’t say so myself, better than those of the people who complain the most.

I am currently working on a post dedicated to taking a novice through a step by step process in Sibelius, using screen shots and easy to follow steps.  By the end of it, you will be well on your way to become a Sibelius Guru.

More soon.