ReBand…A New School Year, A New Gig

September 7, 2008

The Vice Principal Talk

Some things to keep in mind when you get a new band job:

1. You have to train help your administrators to understand how you (a new person) will in almost every circumstance have a influence and at least a slight change on the current program, you know, because you’re not a clone of the last director.

2. Know you’re going to have the a similar exchange as the one below, probably after school Friday of the second week.

Vice principal: So, how do you think things have been going? (Loaded question) (more…)

September 5, 2008

One Cried, Then I Wanted To

The week has ended. This week I survived fire drills and picture day and was in fairly good spirits heading into Friday morning. Today was the second day of introduction woodwind testing and it had gone pretty well to that point. The first period class went pretty well until a sixth grade boy came back to my testing area (not doing his worksheets) just sobbing. I have small children, I understand sobbing, this was worse, completely uncontrollable. After several minutes of him looking at me and sobbing without attempting in any regard to tell me what was the matter or acknowledging my questions, I finally found out that he was so upset because he had forgotten an assignment for a class later in the day. I let that set into my mind a bit, was thankful that he hadn’t been hit by another student or been abused in any way before I became just flabbergasted that it was such a big deal to a 6th grade boy to forget his homework. I finally forced a smile while I wanted to cry because I was so delayed continuing my testing, told the child that it would be OK, and to go back to his seat. He smiled and sat down. I have so much to learn about teaching middle school. That boy will probably play horn. After the delay I got back to testing and only got through half the students I had hoped to. No water works the second 6th grade class…awesome. (more…)

September 3, 2008

I Was Right

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 8:54 pm
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About what I wrote about picture day yesterday, yeah, I was right. I hate picture day.

The day was a waste mostly. Picture day included all the non core class teachers spending most of the day in the gym hoping that the kids wouldn’t hurt themselves as they bounced off the walls while waiting for their group to be called to stand in line for pictures. I did get to play a bit with 7th and 8th grade. In 8th grade, some progress was made. In 7th grade, progress was also made, but mostly in learning what the kids didn’t know. For instance, all the clarinets in the 7th grade who were in a different school last year know zero fingerings above the break or below C below the staff. The flutes are apparently immune to key signatures and the saxes aren’t sure of fingerings such as the very tricky (rolled eyes) Bb. The first order of business tomorrow morning will be to get fingering charts printed for that 7th grade woodwind class. It seems that this is going to be every bit the challenge that I thought it would be.

September 2, 2008

Tomorrow is Picture Day!!! (I hate picture day)

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 10:10 pm
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Day 6 has come and gone and things are beginning to settle. That being said, here comes picture day. Before I get to that though, today should at least be discussed. Introducing the instruments to the beginners has been a lot of fun so far, but it sure has taken longer than I had hoped. Again, I’m sure that my expectations are uneducated. This is the first time I have done this. The kids (about 40 in a class) have so many questions and take such a long time looking over the instruments when they are passed around that I haven’t been able to do more than one in a day. Today was clarinet day. It was fun showing them how the embouchure should basically be and playing a little bit for them. It was great seeing their eyes light up as they tried to figure out where their fingers were really supposed to go. I feel like I want to get this stage of introducing and selecting instruments over with, but I know I’m going to miss that wonder and anticipation in their eyes. (more…)

August 29, 2008

Week One: It’s So Over

OK, I’m glad that’s over. An update to my check predicament, bottom line, I fixed it and it looks like I’ll be fine, but I did mess up. In a totally unrelated subject, today I signed and turned in my union membership papers. Last year I went union free as an assistant, but now that I am the head of a program again, I’m paying the fee. It does give a little more sense of security. Most teachers (I’m told) never have to use it, but I have more than once (twice actually), albeit all for non-student reasons and being deemed in the right in both cases. I personally don’t like the whole union idea, but they can be useful. Now back to the first week.

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August 28, 2008

Week One: The End is Near

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 11:20 pm
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Well, I’m starting to see the end of week one approaching. Everything has gone pretty well (except for one thing I’ll touch on later). I only have one class of the 6 that really isn’t seeming to catch the vision of wanting to do things well and cooperating. Of course, the other classes could just be in first week of school mode and really crush my spirit later on. Today we worked for about 10 minutes on breathing in the 7th and 8th grade classes and talked about the woodwind family and a little about the flute in the 6th grade. I’ll finish up with the flute tomorrow and maybe even get to the clarinet. I’ve continued to get a lot of council and guidance from fellow band directors which I am continually grateful for. Once thing that bothers me is that no one I’ve talked to is using any type of rubric for instrument testing (the type to decide what instruments might be best for kids). I have the feeling that this is going to come back and bite someone. I just hope it’s not me. (more…)

August 26, 2008

OK, Now what

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 9:06 pm
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Day two came to a good conclusion, sort of. I’m starting to get multiple questions from students and a few from from parents who want to know if their kids can change instruments and almost all of them are to go to (say it with me) drums! I’m sure that this will work it’s way out. After all I am a new teacher at this school and people are testing me out and seeing about limits and such.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to start instrument introductions for the beginners. Hopefully I can do a good job. Then it will be time for testing. I’m thinking about calling in the reserves for that and contacting a retired band director to come in and help me with that. My fellow MS band directors in the area have been very helpful to this point and I’m sure that they will continue to be. I’m sure grateful for that.

With the rest of the band, I’m hoping to get started playing a little tomorrow. That is if I’m able to get donations receipted and get school owned instruments assigned. I suppose that if I don’t get to it tomorrow, I’ll get it Thursday. I really need to see if I’m going to like this job.

August 25, 2008

Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 8:27 pm
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Well Day 1 is now over. Just like many first day’s this one started off the night before by not sleeping real well. I’m sure I was snoozing by 12:30, but I went to be before 11:00. All and all, better than most years I suppose. I got to school and got some things read and then came the 6th graders. Many questions, but also timid with my class being the first or second of their entire middle school careers. Then came 8th grade. I knew some of them from visits from my last job and I think that I got the message across about my level of expectation. It’s going to be a challenge for me to know where they should really be after not doing MS in this area or for so long. The 7th grade have the most instrumental issues, but common ones. Too many clarinets and trumpets. I’ll take the clarinets, but the glut of trumpets I could do without. Hopefully I can get a couple of baritones or tubas out of them. All in all the ensembles (at least 7th and 8th grade) look to be in pretty good balance shape if I make a couple of adjustments. (more…)

August 22, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

Here we go. It’s the weekend before first day with kids. Monday is starts a new year with students and this weekend I’m taking it easy…mostly. After a week of in-service (which amounted to one faculty meeting, time in the room and 15 hours of open houses). We are apparently ready to start the year. I have done some things to try to prepare for the new things that I have felt unprepared for. I had a few meetings/phone calls with other local ms band directors and picked their brains and materials as clean as I could. Monday shouldn’t be a big deal as I’m sure I’ll be going over rules, procedures, policies, and doing some get to know you stuff. That being said, I am sure that not everything will go as planned. Already I have 2 invoices that have come it from the previous year that will most likely have to come out of this year’s rather small budget. (more…)

August 16, 2008

ReBand

Filed under: Uncategorized — reband @ 1:55 am
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ReBand. ReBand is something that I came up with to describe the process of going from one band directing job to another, often doing something very different from the last job. ReBand is what I’m experiencing right now. I went from being an assistant high school band director in an accomplished band program of over 200 students, to being the band director at a very good middle school in the same zoning district. The district is undergoing some major changes and so am I. For me, the age of students and the type of music is the biggest difference in the teaching aspect. For the first time in my near decade career, I’ll be starting students on band instruments. This is something that I am most excited and most apprehensive about. I am also realizing that I will likely have vastly different time commitments than what I’ve had working in high schools for almost all of my career. I have never sought to work in middle schools, but here I am, ready to start the school year soon working with some very talented 12-14 year olds (and some others) trying to figure their place in the world. I hope that I will be able to help them with that and with music as well.

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