In this episode we talk about kids that are too involved to be in band… or stay in band.
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This episode is a recording of our TMEA 2017 clinic entitled Success Through Accountability. We talk about specific methods we use to approach accountability with our own kids and how individual skill leads to program success. You can find the YouTube video from the actual presentation below.
In this episode, Sunil Gadgil (sax teacher at Stiles) and Darcy talk about private lessons, choosing solos, and smelling like alcohol. 🙂 Jenna’s band is rehearsing American River Songs in the background.
Jenna teaches half of the flute class, and the spring semester is all about vibrato in the flute world! In this episode Jenna expressed her concern about teaching vibrato when (as a horn player) that is not a skill she’s ever had to perform. The beginners are also incorporating octave slurs into their fundamental time, and the flexibility required to slur without over-blowing is not something her brass face has yet. In this episode we cover vibrato techniques and discuss exactly what a good flute face should do when changing octaves. An I-Play-You-Play demonstration is provided! 🙂
CHECK OUT OUR FACEBOOK PAGES FOR A LIVE FEED VIDEO OF DARCY & JENNA’S I-PLAY-YOU-PLAY FLUTE FLEXIBILITY!
Or, watch the same (but less amusing) basic premise on this YouTube Video.
With UIL completed, Darcy’s Honors Band starts working on The Nightingale and The Two Sisters by Grainger (grade 4). This episode focuses on approaching a new piece in a full band setting with no prior sectional work.
In this episode, we discuss picking Spring Concert music. The goal of the Spring Concert is different for all three bands, and Alex, Jenna, and Darcy talk about what factors go into choosing the right music for their kids based on those goals.
In March every Texas band director received a survey from TMEA about our health/sanity/balance/burnout. It was a survey fueled by questions about exercise, diet, and what we do outside of the school day. Jenna, Alex, and I have talked about this a lot over the course of the last two years as none of us want to find ourselves in the place in which band simply is overwhelming to the point of a career change (as many of our friends have reached).
The Texas band system is one on steroids. To say that we brag about how many hours outside of school we spend at the band hall is maybe an understatement. Early in my own career, I decided that was not a path in which I was interested, and therefore efficiency vs. time on the job became the goal.
Each of us physically active outside of work. I (Darcy) exercise 5-6 days a week in addition to the yard work that centers me more than maybe anything. Alex spends his evenings alternating between basketball, jumping rope (for real), and video games. Jenna miraculously manages to find time to work out most days of the week after putting the two tiny Yees to bed. And all of this in the name of not hating our lives or our jobs.
So many of my college friends have already left the profession. While I attribute much of that to kids majoring in music simply because they liked playing their instrument (as opposed to teaching), I strongly believe that music educators create an environment of success by working more. If I worked at Chili’s and chose to show up 2 hours early and leave 2-4 hours late, people would look at me like I was crazy. But band directors arrange their own schedules dictating 12+ hour days for pennies on the hour with pride.
It’s not sane. It’s not healthy. And it’s not heroic.
The last 12 weeks of school is 100% prep time for next year’s bands. While we definitely are still teaching beginner classes, we have split most of those periods amongst the three of us into two speeds: those who who need 12 more weeks to master Essential Elements book one and fundamental skills (ex. one octave scales), and those who are ready to potentially finish most of Essential Elements book two as well as more advanced skills (ex. unmetered vibrato, two octave scales, focus on musicality). Our number one goal is ensuring that 100% of our beginner students are prepared for 7/8th grade band, and that means meeting the kids at the level that they currently are at. Continuing to teach all students at the same pace denies the reality that kids learn at different speeds and sets some up for failure and others for boredom. We speak specifically about what that split looks like in the podcast.
In our full band classes, we are creating next year’s leaders. Whereas 8th graders might have been assign the majority of first parts most of the year, we are now pairing a 7th grade first part with an 8th grader so that they can learn to confidently take on harder roles while still with the safety of their older partner.
Having a student teacher on campus brings to mind all of the lessons a new teacher still has to learn, lessons that most often can only be learned from making their own mistakes.
As the three of us talked, classroom management and injecting your specific personality into your teaching style were the major themes. Finding a balance in front of your kids is something that takes experimentation and is constantly evolving. I certainly don’t teach anything like first year me, and that is a good thing in more ways than one.