Thursday, July 3, 2008

Week Three Highlights

So we're past the half-way mark in summer band and I didn't nearly mention it enough. When I mention it, kids often get this shocked, wide-eyed "what, you're serious??" look on their face and come back after a couple days sounding a lot better. I hate to say that my best motivator is the reminder of a deadline, but I think that's because I haven't really gotten the hang of playing teacher mind-games yet, complete with the guilt-trip, the inspirational speech, and the hundreds of other tricks in a good teacher's bag.

Today in particular was a very interesting one, being the 3rd of July. One of my classes was very small because three of the five kids were gone a day early for vacation. Fortunately for me, one of the two left has a lot of natural talent, and the other one is a very hard worker and is going to be just fine if he sticks with it. (and works on his note-name-and-fingering flashcards!) On the other hand, since one of the teachers couldn't find a sub, I was teaching two horns, five bones, and a dozen-odd trumpets. Having not planned ahead and rearranged my room, we kind of formed into a circle with in the middle dancing around and keeping things going. It was actually really fun, and I wish I had recorded it to see if I did as well as I thought I did.

By the way, I base the assumption that I did well on the fact that there were kids smiling in the I'm-having-fun way and not in the I-can't-wait-to-tell-Billy-about-this-strange-teacher way. This makes me both feel really good and also really cautious because I've heard many teachers give me the warning that if the students like me by Christmas vacation (ahem, Winter Break), I've already lost control. I'm really of a split mind about this advice, but that'll be the subject of a later post.

Anyhoo, also this week, I led my first warmup ever! The teacher who was supposed to have been doing it called out the piece but then was taken out of the room by a parent. I realized, "oh gosh, I'm a teacher now! I have to do something!" So I jumped up on the podium, said something about half notes, Bb, and listening - it was all so fast! :) - and started rehearsing the piece. Woot! I really wish I had caught that on tape; that would have been golden footage for my instrumental methods class this fall.

Finally, what's the deal with finding out a teacher's first name? I don't remember ever having wondered about that as a kid, but I've been asked half-a-dozen times this week. Have we lost respect for our elders so much that a first-name basis is expected of your teachers, or is the beard not fooling anyone? By the way, my first name is "Mister" and let's look at "Hard Rock Blues."

Anyone else notice that you don't really find blues influences in hard rock? Rarely will you ever find a blues-like progression, eighths are always straight, and what about blue notes?

In other news, I'm playing 18th- and 19th-century music with the Century Brass tomorrow at Murphy's Landing. They're such a fun group to play with because I always get my butt kicked; their ears are so much more finely tuned than mine, and they have such wise stylistic points. I'm learning a lot.

Okay, that's all for now. Happy 4th of July!

1 comment:

Joel said...

For what it's worth, I disagree with your advisers who have told you that it's over if the kids like you before Christmas. I think You better smile before Christmas!

This is especially important as elective teachers. There are always other choices out there.

The successful beginning band student needs to make it through the year with these three essentials.

1. Rehearsal behavior skills
2. As much band weenieness as possible
3. Characteristic sound on the horn

In that order.

The first comes from your enforcing rules.

The third comes from your entertainment value. Once their behavior is under control, make them enjoy being around you. When they misbehave, they will miss the happy Mr. Albing. That's what you want.

The third comes from your spending tons of time in class on long tones. They won't practice at home. Accept it and move on. :)