Where did the summer go?

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything since the end of the school year! Well, the school year ended up great, and I’m actually very excited for the school year to begin. Maybe even more excited than I have been in a while!

I just finished up attending a 2 day ed tech conference at a local school. It was the first one, and it was a great success. We had sessions on Wikis, podcasting, Web 2.0, and I even gave a presentation on blogging. It was a wonderful first year, and I am looking forward to attending future events.

We have some major changes coming to my music program this year, which is very exciting. First, my senior high band will be rehearsing all together in one period every day of the week. In the previous 5 years, they rehearsed in 2 separate periods, and only 2 days a week, since we shared the students with the choir program during the same period. I really think the group will now be able to play music at a level that is up to their potential. They are very talented, but we just didn’t ever have the time to prepare anything more challenging than a grade 3 level piece.

Another change to our band program is that we are going with only 5th and 6th grade participation in band, instead of 4th, 5th, and 6th. This will allow me to see the elementary band students 2 days a week…once in a small group with like instruments, and once in a large group “band” rehearsal. This is very exciting! We will actually be able to perform complete arrangements at our concerts, instead of silly 8-measure exercises out of the book!

Finally, we a receiving new marching band uniforms this year! After 3 years of asking, they were finally ordered last spring, and should be here in time for our first game, which is at home. I can’t wait to make our traditional march to the stadium in those brand new uniforms!!

So, things are shaping up to be a great year! Band camp begins on Monday! Just don’t ask me if I have finished writing my drill charts yet! 🙂

Band Camp Reflections – Day 1

Today was a good great day!  I am extremely excited for the marching band season this year.  Actually, I am always excited, because fall is my favorite time of year.  I must admit that I was going into this camp feeling anxious for the first time before a camp.  Let me explain:

Back in May, I had a meeting with my superintendent about an unrelated issue.  In passing, he mentioned that people in the community had been commenting about the lack of numbers in the marching band, and that it was “an embarrassment.”  I took great offense to this statement, because I happen to think our group is far from “an embarrassment.”  In fact, I challenge you to find another band in the area that plays as well as our group. Of course, I’m biased though!

I have always been very proud of my students. The group at Sharon has always been small since I have been here.  However, we have always had great quality, and that is something I pride myself on.  If you are not familiar with the program, I should point out that we only have about 25 musicians.  We had about 35 my first two years, but due to large graduating classes, that number has declined slightly.  I have always said that I don’t care if we have 10 musicians…I will take whoever wants to be there! What people need to understand is that this program had 3 different directors in 6 years before me.  This contributed to the decline in numbers before I arrived, and it takes several years to build the program back up through the elementary schools.

Anyway, I think what made me anxious about this years’ camp was the comment about the numbers.  I guess that I was shocked, because that concern had never been articulated to me in 4 years of working in the district.  And, for the first time, I found myself trying to come up with ways to increase the numbers….This was dumb.  I have invited some 7th graders into the marching band this year, and they are doing a nice job.  However, some of the students that originally were going to play have now backed out on me at the last minute.  You see, worrying about the numbers had shifted my focus and attention away from what it really should be on – teaching the music!

Anyway, the other thing that I realized today is that 100% of the students in the marching band this year have never had another director for marching band.  That is, they truly are “my students.”  I must say that I definitely noticed a difference right away today.  It is very exciting!  I do not get the rolling eyes and the poor attitudes that I have been getting the last 4 years.  Every student knows what I expect of them, and what to expect from my rehearsals.  I think we are on pace for a great year!

Finally, the last thing that I realized today is how much I missed my students over the summer, and just how much I really do enjoy working with them!  It was a lot of fun for me to catch up with them on breaks, and to work together toward a common goal.

So, in short, an outstanding first day, setting the stage for a great camp and a great marching season!  Here’s hoping that your school year goes well.  Have fun!