You Survived Another Year!

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If you are a teacher in a public school, chances are your year is winding down and you can see the end in sight. You are thinking… FREEDOM!!!  Or maybe you are thinking the title of this post. I survived another year!

This time of year your concerts are over, and your room is about 900 degrees because who needs AC, and you are trying to find things for your band to do. I always tell people, break out the movies! Blues Clues for everyone!!!

There are a lot of things you can do with your band once the concert season is over.

  • Listen to the concert in class and have them write down thoughts as they are listening. Have them talk about the positives of the performance. Have them talk about what they could have done better to prepare. Ask them what they learned.
  • Sightread, sightread, sightread…
  • Have the group watch videos of professional ensembles and talk about what they hear in class. Get them listening. I am always asking groups I clinic “What does a good band sound like?” “How many of you listen to concert band recordings?” “Well, if you don’t then how do you know what a good band sounds like?”
  • Have students a chance to conduct the ensemble in exercises. Let them know what it sounds like from the podium. Let them know what it is like to be in charge!
  • Ask them what worked and what didn’t work. (possibly in writing?)

These are just a few things, and I really didn’t want to focus on what to do with the ensemble, I want to focus on what to do with you!

I know you are counting down the days, and thinking of the beach, or that first cocktail in celebration of the end. But your year isn’t over, even if your concert is! Here are just a few questions you need to answer before you hit the beach, or the bar!

  • What did I do right? What did I do wrong?
  • Did my ensemble(s) improve musically?
  • Did I improve musically?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What worked and what didn’t work!

The important thing it to take stock in your year now! Don’t put it off until before you start the new year. August is not the time to reflect on the last year, it is the time to plan the new year. Plus, you will forget, or you will revise the history that was your last school year with each passing month away from the classroom. By August, you think, “I had a great year last year! I don’t need to change a thing!” And then you go to your notes, and realize, well, yeah, you do need to change some things and try some new things.

Take that time now. Think, question, and learn from your school year. I am pretty sure you didn’t do everything perfectly. None of us do, and that is why we need to always learn and always expand our knowledge in our field, whatever field that is. There just might be a better way to do things out there.

Especially to those out there who are actually thinking the title of this post. You shouldn’t feel that way (at least not 100% that way) at the end of the school year. If you do, take some time to think about why? There is a lot you can, and should do, to change that feeling. If not, you will burn out rather quickly.

As the sun sets on your 2016-17 school year take a few minutes to reflect and learn. I know what you are thinking. Easy for you, a college guy, to say. Yes, I have been on “break” since mid May. And I put that in quotes because my break involves producing a major classical music festival (60 concerts in 17 days at 12 different venues) and running a summer institute for band directors (Shameless plug time: Go to NEBDI!!!!) Oh, and I conduct an adult wind ensemble. And even I have time to relax and reflect.

Trust me, that cocktail and beach will be there for you. The university faculty haven’t emptied every bar… yet… Good luck with the last few weeks, and enjoy it! And reflect on the year now!

Back to the beach…

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