Wednesday, May 18, 2011

End of year movement

I haven't technically been here a year. But the end of this school year means massive changes to the music rooms. 
For several years now the "Choir room" has been used as storage and office space, because one teacher taught all the music classes in the band room. Next fall, with band and choir separate we cannot use the same room. Plus there is to be some re-carpeting and painting in the band room this summer. My students and I have logged many hours cleaning and moving out everything so that they can re-carpet and paint. When the carpet is done they will install my Wegner sheet music storage unit, build me a bunch more shelving units, and then i will do instrument inventory and sheet music inventory as I move it all back into the band room. I really have my work cut out for me this summer.

This is the band room right now. There are a few personal instruments to be taken home today.
There are also a few items which will be taken to the trash and a nice cabinet 
that will be sold at a school surplus auction next week. I pulled the screen down to hide the HIDEOUS white board, which is being replaced this summer also. In addition they're building me some more shelving units like the ones seen because the program is growing.

This is now the Northwest corner of the choir room. Stacked in that pile are 8 horns, 7 trombones,
11 trumpets, 5 alto saxes, 1 tenor sax, 2 bari saxes, 5 baritones, 3 tubas, lots of drums, and a Piano.
I tried to stack it out of the way as much as possible. 
But the poor choir teacher has me invading her space. 

The Southwest corner of the choir room. Containing marching snares, and trumpets, clarinets, 
bass clarinets, lots of drum stands. The robes and uniforms have been taken to the cleaners.
The filing cabinets will be replaced by the Wegner Music Storage units which are in 
the gigantic cardboard boxes. The only thing in this picture staying in the choir room
for next year is the overhead projector.

For now all I have left to do is move 67 music stands and 54 chairs into the choir room, move the surplus to the bus barn for auction, and throw away the broken stuff. 
Hopefully I can get it all back together before the July 12th band camp. Ugh. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lanky, Mouthy, Tripping-over-your-own-feet Marching Techniques

So I'm finishing the year with marching basics. We went out to the field today and subdivided the marching step (1-e-&-a, 2-e-&-a, etc). The slow motion of dividing up the step helped the high school tremendously. The middle school made massive and impressive improvements.
The 6th grades couldn't walk straight if their life depended on it. They were trying sooo hard for the first 20 minutes but the awkwardness of pubescent youth was whooping them. They were literally tripping over their own feet. After the initial rough time they began to feel helpless and mouthy. I then stopped the marching and did a number of energy-sucking stretching and dancing activities until the smiles returned. We did march a little at the end and they did better.
I forgot how clumsy they are at that age.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Limited Instrumentation

I have spent probably 20 hours this past week beginning a seemingly doomed search for music.

My students really need exposed to classics: the Whitacres, dello Joios, Reeds, Swearingens, Fillmores, Jacobs, Holsts, and Grundmans. They have played way too many Mike Storys and Paul Murthas. Not that Story and Murtha aren't good enough arrangers. But these student's haven't played anything older than maybe 15 years.

The biggest challenge is the limited instrumentation. My high school band in the fall will have doubled and will be more or less 5 clarinets, a bass clarinet, 2 altos, a bari, 2 trumpets, a horn, a trombone, a tuba, and 2 percussionists. Something in the central Nebraska water makes flute undesirable. So I look and look and look. I've found a number of "limited instrumentation" resources with JWPepper and most recently Nevertheless, these are mostly grade 1-2 works. My high school band could handle a 2-3.5 and be more successful. But most everything requires a flute.

So, I'm thinking about having a successful 8th grade flute step up and help. Which, as i understand, would even be acceptable in District Music Contest.
I'm also still trying to find something that fits my instrumentation without bringing middle schoolers into the mix.

On the bright side. I've doubled the band program in High School and the Middle school is looking at 140% growth in the fall. Not a single 6th grader is quitting and only 2 or 3 are quitting before entering 9th grade. So recruitment seems to be successful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Concert Night

I've only done a few concerts here as a new director but I'm pleased with my band's improvement. They aren't perfect or anything but progress is progress.
The two things I've noticed most so far:
First, directors who stay calm have an amazing power. Directors who literally sweat out every detail in a stressful manner will drive the kids to performance anxiety. I'm proud to say I'm very comfortable in the performance because I work my heine off to have everything prepared in advance.
Second, smiles from the podium are super powerful. The kids both light up and focus more when they glance up and see the smile of confidence. I remember my college director giving me this amazing smile of confidence in a concert several years ago and now I'm noticing it working on my students.
I'm pleased with my kids.
Not necessarily with others though.