Friday, August 16, 2013

First Week: well that was fun?!

Man I was excited this week to finally get back in the classroom with the kids. I still am actually. The week has been full of work. I've only gone in at night to work 8 times now in the past 3 years-ish. Three of the 8 were this week and honestly I have so much to do I oughta go back in tonight. But bag that. It's a friday night and the mood is right for sitting at home doing nothing but dishes and cutting some herbs from my garden.
We have a new principal who is a great guy. I was one of the teachers who interviewed him and I think he's doing great things. He requires more work though, like teachers submitting lesson plans with standards attached and he's supposedly going to compare the standards taught with the ones on the state test to make sure we're preparing them. He's demanding and strict compared to what we had before, and I welcome that with open arms.
Right now I'm running a 5th grade band of 27, a 6th grade band of 24, a Middle School band of 26 and a High School band of 25 plus a guitar ensemble of 14. Not too bad for a K-12 district of only 300 kids.
I know the kids are not yet adjusted to sitting and behaving in a school setting. I'm not either. Yet despite the added work load from the new bossman, despite the excessive talking. I'm genuinely happy to be back in the room. I'm feeling the stress, but I really feel like I was made for this.
Ohhhh so story: This girl. Lets call her Suzie Que. Ok, so Suzie takes summer lessons from me at school every year. She's a flutist and honestly pretty decent considering all the social, emotional, and intellectual barriers she has. Ok so her mom calls and says that Suzie got mad and bent her flute. I was all like 'whats that even mean' but mom apologized and swore up and down they'd make it right. I gave them the addresses of the shops I approve and they supposedly got it all fixed. I'm not sure what "bent" really meant, but they were fixing it right. So today she's getting her flute out and I was like, wow I should look at that sometime. So after class I got it from her. The following is a photo I just took of the flute AFTER FIXING.
Close up of the scarring
To be honest, the repair guy I love could've probably done a better repair job, it's still kinda folded up there. But seriously, what did this girl do? There is also a pretty good ding on the plate so I think she like whacked the headjoint against a counter or something while it was in the body because the barrel part is great and the scarring from it being folded is right outside the barrel. Below is my fantastic artist's rending...
Perfect rendition of the flute headjoint

So yah, that was fun...
It's one of those 1960's or 70's Artley 18-0's. (1969 according to a quick serial number search) Basically made out of steel. These old Artley student models ain't pretty but still.

Anyway. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pre-semester thoughts

I've spent a significant amount of time pondering the sociological influences on traditions in my little town.
See there is no extracurricular sport or activity which experiences success thus far in the school district. At least not since the '70s. Three years ago our athletics had a winning-less year across all sports.
The problem with no success is that is brings a complacency, an attitude of "it ain't gonna work anyways."
I read in a music ed journal about motivation a few months ago an article by Frank Kick ( about motivation. We had a special band officer's meeting to discuss the cycle of work-success-fun and my HS band camp was a whole different world of attitude this year. They worked hard and accomplished a massive amount in two days. It was an emotional high for me to finally have some success and we shared a lot of fun times...
Then I had two kids show up for the MS band camp. It was a massive snap back to reality.
I'm not tired of the students and certainly not the peer teachers and administration. I love them dearly.
I'd just love to not lose so many to scheduling problems and activity conflicts and...
These kids are good kids and like many at small schools, they're stretched so thin with all the demands we put on them.

School starts next thursday. We'll see how things go. I'm excited to see them again and not be doing janitorial work :)

When someone invents the ability to pick up a school district and move it closer to family please let me know.

BTW- My little one is 2 years old today! Happy Birthday Lyds!!! te amo

Thursday, August 1, 2013

You've got to ac-cent-chu-ate the positive

So I was reading old blogs and felt the need to expound on the positives that have happened and are continuing to. I hope my last blog didn't come across as the angry ramblings of a disillusioned man.
Rather, it has been a very positive experience thus far. I'd like to publicly share the positive nature of my experience teaching here thus far.

  1. Support staff: Our front office secretary has been a life saver countless times. She is a big help professionally. Our custodians are both big supporters of the program and willingly go out of their way to help me. 
  2. Student "D": This kid makes it all worth while. Last spring I caught her on facebook at school and saw she had the band's picture as her cover photo. I think she is the first "band kid" this school has experienced in years. She plays a pretty mean flute, takes on challenges, etcShe also happens to be our primary babysitter for lyds.
  3. Admin: I have 2 wonderful admins (3 soon but I barely know the new guy). Both are incredibly supportive and helpful. I'd go as far as to say I'm friends with my superintendent. They both are the most kind and helpful supervisors I've ever seen. They haven't always said yes, but they've always found a way to make things a more positive experience for the kids. They've helped me add a pops concert, a guitar and percussion class, a low brass trip to TUBAChristmas, a televised holiday concert, a...
  4. Young leaders: I have a handful of incoming freshman this year who are going to be great leaders very soon. Including a group of 4 who did several MS honor bands together and are constantly challenging amongst themselves to be better musicians. They're a great asset.
  5. The School Board: These guys have been wonderful. They've fought in my behalf on financial and logistical issues and without their support I wouldn't have made it this long. 
  6. My wonderful "assistant": while Karin holds no official title and receives no pay, she is right there with me. First in and last out and working the whole time. She has missed fewer pep bands than most students and has always been helpful. Until recently some of my kiddos actually thought she was a paid assistant band director. She even sub-conducted once (long story).
  7. The peer teachers: I mostly work with the four 5th and 6th grade teachers who have been incredibly supportive and will accommodate anything if it is at all possible. 
  8. me at Tuba Christmas 2012

    HS Band fall 2012
    Drum Majors 2013 and myself