Falcon HS Band and Orchestra

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A Band Director's Dream

 

Once upon a time there was a band director who had a dream. He dreamt that his students would reach their full potential, that they would make it to state and win awards and competitions, but not because he cared about winning. This band director had nothing to prove to anyone; he just knew what his band was capable of.

 

This director – we’ll call him Mr. D – set out 11 years ago to make sure his bands were the best they could be, and he saw improvement. The bands went from earning scores of 4 (below average) to 3 (average) and finally to 2 (excellent), but they really struggled to reach that 1 (superior) level. Mr. D worked harder and spent many hours in score study, preparing lesson plans and going to conferences so he could become a better teacher, but that “1” still seemed elusive. The bands grew from 42 students to over 100 students. Still the “1” was elusive. After eight years of this, Mr. D had an Aha moment.

 

The reason the bands were not progressing was that students were not really practicing on their own. Oh they practiced occasionally on their music, and they received practice in class, but to really achieve their full potential they needed to practice on their own.

 

Two years ago, Mr. D found out about a program developed by a long tern music teacher and college professor – Dr. Satterwhite – which was called “The Power in the Progress” system. It is a comprehensive, self paced practice system that aims to develop self motivated, independent musicians who play with great tone, technique and interpretation. Mr. D incorporated the system immediately.

 

Overall it was a success with 1/3 of students going beyond what they are required to do, 1/3 meeting their minimum requirements (albeit often late), but the final 1/3 really resisting the practicing. Mr. D assumed since the monthly requirements could be completed with less than two hours of practice a month that students would jump on board and that the bands would finally achieve the superior ratings they were capable of. But alas, band is a total team effort, and that 1/3 held back our progress.

 

Mr. D has not forgotten his dream! He still believes the bands are capable of superior ratings, but

 

THEY have to want it,

THEY have to work for it,

THEY have to hold their peers accountable.

 

He sees two things holding students back…

 

Procrastination

 

In life, it’s easier to stay ahead of the game. It’s easier to prepare in advance than to always be playing catch up. Pay now or pay later! Lack of taking time to exercise now might mean a triple bypass later (with corresponding time spent that’s not optional). Lack of spending time with a spouse now may mean counseling later. The hardest part of any task is often getting started.

 

Fear

 

Many of the students play well, but one minor item in their assessment prevents them from playing it for Mr. D. It might be a high note they can’t quite reach, or a term they don’t understand, or a rhythm they can’t decipher. The interesting thing is that with 1 minute of coaching, the students are often able to perform what they thought they couldn’t. The fear held them back. Fear is a dangerous wolf seeking to devour our productivity and what we are called to do.

 

The dream is alive, but Mr. D no longer assumes responsibility for getting bands to the superior level. He offers himself every single one of his lunch breaks to students who want to join him in the dream. He often can be found staying after school to help students overcome their procrastination and fear. He invites them to join him in this dream…

 

that the band students at Falcon HS will reach their full potential and play at a Superior level,

 

that they will make it to State and win competitions,

 

not because winning is important, but because it’s what we are capable of doing,

 

because we weren’t born to be average or mediocre,

 

because what we learn in the music class can be applied to most endeavors in life.

 

Sincerely,

Mr. D

aka Mr. Divine

www.jamesdivine.net

 

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