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Last Minute UIL Concert & Sight Reading Preparations: 10 Things I Am Doing To Try To Get Sweepstakes

This Thursday, I will be taking my Middle School band to our UIL Concert & Sight Reading contest. For those who don't understand how the band world works (and even for those who don't understand Texas UIL), here's sort of how it works. How UIL works I will be taking them to perform a concert program of three pieces that we've been working on since February. Following the concert, we go to the sight reading contest. In that, each band is allotted a certain amount of time to look at a brand new piece of music. As a director, I can spend the first part (four minutes for my band) talking them through it and pointing out key changes, accidentals,

No Kidding…

Sorry, no April Fools Day jokes from me this year. But I am actually posting a little bit. Last night, I took my band to the UIL Concert and Sight-Reading contest and we got a Sweepstakes trophy. This means that at least two of the three judges for our concert program and two of the three judges for our sight-reading agreed that our band played superior and earned a first division. I'm so proud of them! Contact me via email and ask me for the link to the recordings. I have done a ton of thinking about this blog lately and I am determined that I will once again enable comments soon. I have the old ones, but I am

Cut the Cord

For the first time since started my blog three years ago, I am going to be taking a break for at least a month. No writing, no checking stats, no emails, no nothing. In fact, I'm pulling the plug on my cable modem as soon as I finish writing this. This is not just a blog issue, but I am going to be away from Facebook almost entirely for a month. In fact, I deleted Facebook from my phone a couple of weeks ago and noticed a substantial improvement to my productivity at work. My free time isn't spent checking to see who else is slacking off at work, but rather in avoiding the temptation to slack myself. I've

Laying Out A Legacy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how my friend Junior had posted on his blog calling for people to write about what kind of a legacy we wanted to leave. I have been thinking a whole lot over the past few months about my progression as a teacher, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to really flesh out some about what kinds of things I have been through. I've sort of broken things down by year and I would be interested to know how many other teachers could say their progress as a teacher has been similar. Clearly I have not yet arrived, but I have learned a handful of things along the way, and it's been

The Allocation Of Attention

Here is a brief summary of the last 19 months of my life. In December of 2007, I was getting ready for work one Friday morning. I got a phone call from one of the high school assistant band directors. He told me that the other middle school director I work with had a stroke and was at the hospital. This was a huge blow to the band program as he has been in the district longer than I've been alive. It also made for a difficult month for me that included taking two bands to the Christmas Parade the next day, taking each band to four elementary concerts on consecutive days the next week, and preparing both bands for

Flashback Friday

I've been thinking lately about trying to have each day be a sort of theme day. I don't intend on posting every day (that's not realistic for me at this time), but I would like for things to be a bit better aligned. So for instance, if I write a list article, I'll schedule it for the next available Monday. If I have a blogging article, I'll schedule it for the next available Wednesday. Or something along those lines. Here's the ideas I've come up with: Monday Music Monday - I am a band director. I haven't posted a whole lot about teaching band. I would like to overcome that and really begin to place a bit more emphasis on the

Welcome to Education: Now Change Your Plans To Fit OUR Schedule

I was supposed to have my Pre-UIL concert tonight, but we were informed yesterday afternoon that the 7th Graders would be having pre-registration that night instead and they need to use the cafetorium, and gym. Of course! By the time I left school at 5:45 this afternoon, parents were already showing up and trying to go into the band hall. Evidently they had meetings scheduled in there tonight also. Lemme tell you, I can't wait to get to the band hall tomorrow morning and figure out what they've done with my chairs and stands that I had set up for our 7am rehearsal! So in my last article, I mentioned that I require pass-offs and also that I cut students.

10 Awesome iPhone 3G Apps (Band Director Style)

For an updated list of iPhone apps I actually use in band class after over  year of use, check out 20 Ways I Really Use My iPhone To Teach Band Class I haven't gotten a new cell phone in the last two years, so I am excited about this opportunity to upgrade. My decision to buy an iPhone was anything but spur-of-the-moment. In fact, I have been planning on getting one for just about 5 months. I was going to get it shortly after my band earned Sweepstakes at the UIL Concert & Sight Reading contest back in April. But I heard rumors of a new version of iPhone coming out then, so I waited. I have been eagerly

07-08: What To Change Next Year

As we begin the summer vacation, I am looking back on what went really well this year, what didn't work so well, and what needs to change for next year. Below are some of the changes that I intend to implement next year: Change the focus - Winning is not the only thing that matters. In fact, winning is absolutely fun, but so is doing something well. One of my college professors was a big proponent of the concept that you teach music for the sake of teaching music. He said that when you do it right, the results will follow. I never earned a sweepstakes trophy in all my years of band, even though I was in a really

07-08: What Worked Well

As we begin the summer vacation, I am looking back on what went really well this year, what didn’t work so well, and what needs to change for next year. Below are some of the positives about this year: Remaining calm - Despite circumstances this year, with the other band director having a stroke and all, I was able to stay calm most of the time. I lost my temper a few times, but it was nothing compared to my previous years of teaching. A lot of this comes from stress reduction measures I put into place, as well as growing up. Doing my job without complaining - I complained a bit on here and to friends, but never

5 Tips To Putting The Pieces of Your Life Back Together

I recently took my band to the UIL Concert & Sight Reading competition. We worked hard on the music. We worked hard in after school sectionals. We worked hard on passing classes to retain eligibility. The end result was that the band got first division in the Concert portion of the contest, and first division in the Sight Reading portion. That combination is called Sweepstakes. Putting together a performance like this takes its toll on everyone involved. As a result, I have fallen behind on a number of things in my personal life. The most notable is my housekeeping.Since I conduct the second band, it is made up of mostly 7th graders. This was their first year to go to


Have you noticed that People   really   don't   like     As I prepare my bands for the UIL Concert & Sight Reading contest that is now less than a month away, I have noticed that they seem to have a big problem with rests. For the uninitiated, rests in music represent silence.  If I reduce the amount of noise that I make, my students will be more likely to hear the important things I tell them As I was talking with one of the classes on Friday about the incredible importance of the rests, I made a correlation about how we don't like rests because people really don't like silence. In the visual arts, typography, and graphic

Loving My Job; Hating My Work

Even if you ignore the majority of this article, check out the last sentence. I am absolutely loving school since coming back from Christmas Break. Even so, I am beginning to get burned out. If you want to know why, go read this. He's still not back yet and it's all but certain that he will not be coming back next week either. Still no clue when I can expect him.I wrote an email to my principal today, some edited excerpts follow: I love teaching and I love rehearsing the bands, but I am very tired. The students suffer as a result. More than anything else, that is what breaks my heart about the whole situation. It’s not that I

Less Stress: Reduce Responsibilities

Time is a commodity where everyone is equal. But some people seem to do a whole lot more with their time and others seem to do a whole lot less. But we all stay busy. The problem is that some people choose how to fill their lives and other people allow their lives to be filled. It's so easy to get into the trap of agreeing to do everything that anyone asks us to do. Ever wonder why it is the youngest teachers who end up doing the most work in many schools? It's because the experience teaches us that our class suffers when we take on too many responsibilities. Basic time management List your responsibilities Prioritize your list,

Anxiety Sets In As The New School Year Looms Ominously Close

The new school year is two weeks and two days away. This time last year, our week of inservices was well under way. Thanks to the Texas legislature, we will not begin staff development until August 20th and are not allowed to begin school before August 27th. That's fine with me, but I am ready to begin the school year. We started our middle school band camp this past Monday and it is so much fun there. As I've mentioned before, these are students that I taught in 6th grade. I am moving from the sixth grade campus to the 7th & 8th grade campus this year. It's so much fun for me to see all of these kids whom I