Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Full Circle

I had a nice meeting today with a former student who is now a band director in New Haven. I can still picture her eager little face staring up at me the first day of 6th grade. She is experiencing all of the first year issues that band directors face. She is working way, way too hard.

Above all she needs to prioritize and manage her time. But that is so challenging. I worked 90-100 hours a week for many years. I know that work paid off. But I also know that work absolutely drained me. I have become much more efficient.

As this program grows, I can easily get sucked into the double shift again. Work 6am-2pm on the main job, then 2pm-10pm on the "after school" part. I'm spending tomorrow working on plans, curriculum, and budgets. I'm hoping this time allows me to cut out the "extras" so I can focus my efforts on time with students.


I watched Dudamel conduct the Berlin Philharmonic last night on Ovation TV. I would love to play under him. What a dynamic conductor!

The LA Philharmonic has an iPhone app that you can also play on their website. Kind of like Guitar Hero. Now I tried it and it doesn't quite make sense as the "cues" don't quite match the instruments but its a nice attempt. Its also a good way to get Berlioz into the classroom.

Check out this video of Dudamel with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. A bunch of kids!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Music Research

Music improves your IQ, your test scores, and the amount of information you remember. Britain is pouring a ton of money into music education because of this.

Are there other interventions that work as well?

Monday, September 7, 2009


I have been writing and reading a lot about planning for the year. Planning requires the following:
  • Scope and sequence. What are you supposed to learn and in what order? There is not an existing scope and sequence. That's OK, it gives me something to do this year.
  • Data. Where are the students on the benchmarks? Again, there doesn't seem to be data or benchmarks. That's OK, it gives me something to do this year.
  • Rotation. Students can sit in choir for four years. I can't give the same introductory solfeg lesson each September. I have to scaffold each lesson for each group. This is incredibly time consuming and requires scope, sequence, and data. None of which we have.
So, now what? This is what I see so far:
  • Beginning band is pretty much straight-forward. We have the support of the general music teacher, which is sooo helpful. Lessons I'm ready for. There is much to do in creating culture and program.
  • Developmental band did very well on their reading. We have started their instruments (flute-clarinet-trumpet). I haven't figured out how to do this all at once (rather than flutes on Monday, Trumpets on Tuesday, etc...). They don't know enough to work independently yet. These are good kids.
  • Choir is moving much faster than expected. Half of them are freshman and they can all sing. I owe a lot of credit to the middle school director. Now I can do some hard core assessing and start selecting repertoire. We have done some solfeg but I haven't really tested their reading yet.
  • Band has a performance in 10 days!! This is what I was most worried about. But they will do fine. I want to get through the gauntlet of the football game and then settle into our reading and ear training. This band of ten (yes, ten) will have to be very versatile.
  • Plus I have to work on curriculum, coach cross country, and get home for dinner!
So, this week I will block off the year. I will start to plan concerts and work back from there. There are so many avenues to take. But I feel it is important to instill (and install) my basic music values:
  • You will read/play/write/sing in any key.
  • You will show up on time.
  • You will play/sing with great tone.
  • You will believe in yourself.
  • You will believe in your program.
I have to find the lessons that make that happen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pep Band

Here is the current instrumentation for our Pep Band:

Alto Sax
Bass Guitar
2 Bass Drum

We had our first rehearsal today and it went pretty well. We learned three cheers that I have used forever and started to work on the songs for the stands. I hope to have the cheers plus 3-4 songs ready for the first game. We also have the National Anthem to work on.

We definitely need to read a lot. If we can read better we can play a lot more music. My challenge now is to introduce those lessons while preparing for the game in two weeks (!!).