This is a question that creeps in to my mind from time to time, and I never really have had a good answer. What is my duty to the band world? The following flood my mind when this happens (in no particular order):
- Educate my students and prepare them to not only be musicians, but to also be music consumers
- Promote new music and composers
- Get out and work with ensembles of all ages and abilities
- Share ideas with my colleagues and friends
- Continue to learn every day
- Evolve as an educator, musician, and person
- Work for change (but NOT just for the sake of change!!!)
Do you owe anything to the band world? What has the band world done for you lately? I think you do owe something to the greater band world, no matter what level you teach at. The idea is to pass knowledge on, isn’t it? The idea is to help make others who teach band better so that they can make their students better, right?
Who doesn’t always want to work with the best bands! Who doesn’t want to conduct All State ensembles? I will admit, I do! I love working with great ensembles with complete instrumentation. I enjoy a two days festival where I am working with the best student musicians in the county, region, or state. But I argue that those ensembles need our help the least. That is not to say it is not important to do these things.
College people, this ones for you… When is the last time you visited a band that barely had enough musicians to play a standard band arrangement? When is the last time you visited a school where the band maybe met two times a week and never as a complete ensemble at any given rehearsal? When is the last time you worked with an ensemble that had difficulty with easier music? Every ensemble and every visit can teach you valuable lessons to bring back to your majors. Every band has something to offer even if they aren’t playing grade 5 music and performing at national conferences. Are we training our music education majors to just be band directors at great programs? Or do we still have the tools and first hand knowledge to teach them to succeed with any kind of band.
But this goes for more than just the college crowd, doesn’t it? Public school band directors, when is the last time you worked with an ensemble at a different school? High school band directors, when is the last time you conducted a beginning band at another school? Get out there and better yourself. Put yourself in what could be an uncomfortable position and learn something. Make yourself a better musician. Do an exchange with another band director.
What will be your first thought after reading this? I DON’T HAVE TIME. Well, make time! Because this is our greater job. This greater job will help us with our own students. I just began writing about my experiences in band when I was younger, and struggle to remember what it was like to just be a kid with a trombone sitting in the back wondering what am I doing. And now as I work with honor groups of all levels (and throw in some orchestras too), from time to time I still ask myself… What am I doing… And it becomes one of the best experiences I ever have, and it is also a humbling education every time!
I will try and hit on those other thoughts up top at another time. It’s way too nice out and it is a Saturday!