Well here I am at the end of this adventure of a year. So much has been changed, so much is new, so much is ahead. Of course it’s been quite a while since I checked in. I had to blow the dust off of the web site and make sure that it still worked. It seems that much is still in order, but as I said before, much needs to be changed as well. First, I’ll concentrate on what the rest of the year was like.
June 15, 2009
February 25, 2009
Well the new year is here and has been for a good while now. Recently I passed out some new music in preparation for festival for my 7th and 8th grade groups. For each of the groups I have tried different pieces, trying to find a march, lyrical, and an other piece that would play to my groups strengths. A couple of tunes seemed to work some right away did not and finally I came to some decisions. I’m not sure I got it right, in fact, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t, but I’m not sure that with most bands you will find the magical mix of pieces that will guarantee a Superior at festival. My bands’ instrumentation just isn’t ideal enough. I was kind of disappointed that Travis Weller’s MS band room fire idea didn’t catch on as well as his HS one did. I know that I did learn a good deal about middle school level literature from trying so many pieces in a short period of time. (more…)
December 17, 2008
Well the big day finally arrived. All the little ones, the ones who have been playing their instruments for a whole 2 1/2 months, had their very first ever band concert. For those of you who have done this for a while, you know what to expect. You have seen the problems, you have heard the results, and you know what the parents (and kids) are going to say. Those are all things that I didn’t know at the beginning of this year, but I now I have started to understand.
November 15, 2008
Welcome back, did you miss me? I’ve been taking more time to spend with the family and wrapping up some other stuff over the last month so I haven’t taken time to write. I know that when I look back, I’ll regret not journaling about all that has been happening. It’s been a while so here are the highlights, lowlights, all the lights that have been happening in the last month.
Concerts: I gone through a concert with my 8th and 7th grade bands, both went fairly well. Each group played as well as they had practiced, no worse, so I guess there isn’t too much more than I can expect. Our concerts take place in a gym, so all the reverb “mixes” our sounds a little more, sometimes helping with making our mistakes not as noticeable to the average listener. Good things came out of the concerts. I have at least two kids who were planning on quitting at the quarter do a u-turn (one them, one their parents) on that decision. Each is a fairly poor player now, but they are doing better with trying. I got very good comments from parents and administrators overall and only one complaint. The complaint was that some of the band kids who were not playing while the other group was playing were talking. I’m not happy about that, but I’m not surprised either. Oh well. (more…)
October 13, 2008
It’s been a little while since I checked in and it seems that everything has pretty much calmed down for the moment, at least as much as it can in middle school. A routine is starting to set in for the different groups. I’m starting the beginners on the EE2000 book 1 and we’re on #12 after about 12 days. Lots of review, lots of checking to see if pitches are right (and they are not) and lots of checking posture, hand positions, embouchure, etc. I’m hopeful to get to play Merrily We Roll along soon before getting to gasp! half notes. I like that EE doesn’t really start the kids on whole notes that last 4 beats, but instead as long as the director says so. I still haven’t got many of the kids onto SmartMusic. I think it could really help. I miss the art in the music that I have been used to with working high schools. Not that I’d get a lot into music in the HSs at this time with marching band and all, but the monotony of fundamentals is something I am struggling with a bit. I understand that this sounds bad to say out loud (or write) but it’s the way I’m feeling now. (more…)
September 25, 2008
An explanation is for the title is in order I suppose. In the area that I teach, the beginning band teacher assigns instruments to students, the students and family do not have total choice. I finally finished the 6th grade testing and now have determined and distributed the instrument selections for each student. Obviously I’m not going to make everyone happy. Unhappy (or disappointed) kids equal unhappy or frustrated parents equal parent phone calls and emails to me…and like I said in the title of this little post, they have.
First I’ll freely admit that my testing process and instrument selection method is or may be flawed. Perhaps my reader (thanks mom) would care to weigh in on it as I’ll describe it. Don’t hold back, I want to try to fix it so I have fewer problems in the future. (more…)
September 23, 2008
It’s Tuesday and I am getting some things accomplished. It’s a good feeling, but it is a roller coaster for me. I got all of the things needed to get done on Monday ordering shirts, getting things copied, inputting grades, and answering emails. I also tried to teach a bit. I’m really trying to get the 7th and 8th graders to get a stronger foundation on their rhythmical reading. I using 101 Rhythmic Rest Patterns by Grover C. Yaus with both groups. It was in the library and I have enough copies for a classroom set. It’s working pretty well, but I wouldn’t mind a few more exercises on some of the simpler stuff. Hopefully we won’t be there very long though. I’m continuing to get through the 6th grade testing. I think we can finish by the end of the week…maybe. (more…)
September 21, 2008
Like I expected, I’m not fond of middle school pep rallies. It was mostly people encouraging the 6-8th graders to scream their little heads off and being upset when they wouldn’t until you wanted them to watch something or tell them something and then being upset when they wouldn’t stop screaming their little heads off. On the up side, you can always rely on the “Hey Song” to bring a crowd together. (more…)
September 17, 2008
Tomorrow I begin my further indoctrination into the life of a middle school teacher. I have my first MS pep rally. The last place that I taught middle school they didn’t have pep rallies because they thought that the kids might riot. I guess that might be part of the reason I’m not exactly pumped up about ours tomorrow. One of the other reason is that there is not a schedule yet. Yep, the thing is tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll have that, you know, BY THE TIME THE THING IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!! I emailed the cheer coach who is supposedly in charge of this little horror-in-waiting and got a response back that she was working on it. OooooooooooKay. For these things I have to set up the band chairs and stands and get the 8th grade band to play a few numbers while only the cheer coach seems to know what else is going on. I’m honestly not at all sure what to expect from this little event. Hopefully the rest of the day will allow me to accomplish some things. I can stand pep rallies only slightly better than picture days. (more…)
September 13, 2008
Weekends come and go, but I’m glad I have this one. After not posting for the week, I’ll lay it all out. Going into this new week (week 4) I’m a bit more prepared and am looking forward to getting things going, after all The Show Must Go On and in some cases just begin. I was hopeful that this week would see some progress in playing, great progress in the instrument testing process for beginning band students, and a bit better mindset than what I left the last week with. To some degree all of those things have happened.
The playing progress is probably happening, but sometimes I feel like I’m Going Slightly Mad. The 8th graders now have all the tunes that they need to have to play at pep rallies and the football games that they have to play for. They aren’t good at them yet, but for this point in our schedule for needing to know them, we’ll be OK. We have a pep rally on Wednesday and I really don’t have much of an idea of what to expect from a MS pep rally. (more…)