I have been way too busy. It feels like a month since my last post, and then I realized it has been a month since my last post. Arrrgh….
But now I find myself past the half way point of my summer session at Kent (a little sad about Dr. Dorfman leaving, but he will do great things at BU), and balancing my course load with a series of summer rehearsals with the marching band. My hour plus drive during the week has provoked some thoughts in me about our role as band directors and how one year never really seems to end…
Consider that our performance groups mirror the school athletic teams in the districts in which we teach: football leads to hoops like marching band gives way to pep band. For some of us, our jazz ensembles usually start before pep band finishes. Preparing students for honors festivals takes time in and out of school, and before long preparations for a spring trip come into play. We hold auditions for next year’s band fronts before we sometimes get all the equipment back. We become immersed in the process of recruitment/retainment for our ensembles for the next year before the final note of our spring concert is sounded. Don’t forget monthly Booster meetings, important board meetings, faculty meetings, and in-service days that have all the relevance of a Paula Cole acoustic set at a Biker Rally in Sturges. During my last week of school while other teachers are putting away books, cleaning up their rooms, and putting together a summer reading list, I work with the Senior Class Advisor making graduation practice happen for about 100 graduates to be – at the same time being responsible for 25 students in the commencement band. All of this being said I have not mentioned that we are teaching students during the school day….that is when the brilliant Ed Rendell says we don’t have to be testing them (note: Rendell=jabroni).
At times, the “necessary evils” of our profession seem insurmountable. There is only one of us, and we can get stretched pretty thin. So submitted for your approval, 5 suggestions to make your life as a band director a bit more manageable.
5) Plan early – Budget not only what amount of time you commit but when as well. This means getting your schedule set early for all extra-groups and constantly looking at the big picture. The more information we have at our fingertips when we begin mapping out our schedules, the less chance we have for a frustrating surprise wrecking our plans.
4) Don’t teach the same band every year – Each year our group’s complexion will change. Sometimes we reload sections, sometimes we rebuild them. But in either case – they are a differently personality that learns in a different way. They should know our expectations, but we should be responsible to learn how to connect with them better.
3) Think about next year’s band now – Huh? Yes, in the moment of working with this year’s group make sure you take time to note how underclassmen are developing. To ensure our groups can maintain the demands of performance and live up to their expectations, we need to build up the skills, confidence, and demeanor of younger players so that when the time comes they can assume a new role.
2) Consider goals – We should engage ourselves and our ensembles in setting goals – personal and group goals for our camps, and throughout the year. The goals should be worthy of our (collective) commitment. The goals should be reachable through sound process (no pun intended).
1) Take Time for You – Throughout the year and especially in the summer, we need to take some breaks. One week in the Outer Banks does wonders for yours truly, and the other 51 don’t seem that bad. Even throughout the year, from month to month, taking time away is rewarding. Finding those 15 minutes a day for you and your other interests can make a world of difference.
There is a band for all seasons, as long as a Director is there to lead them.