October 12, 2020
Friday (October 2nd) was another in a series of small steps toward putting our band back together. The students are making slow progress—in every class, in every rehearsal together over the last three weeks, they have demonstrated incremental improvement in their cohesiveness and sound. It should be noted that for our performance on October 2nd, the only time the band actually played together as a group was at 5:30 on Friday night—just before the game. It was also the first time the entire band played a single note together since September 18th when our football team played SOHS—a full two weeks “apart”.
I continue to work with the students on how to be “in a band” through our in-person, A/B schedule. Frankly, it is so difficult to make musical progress on concert or marching band selections with the instrumentation as wacky as it is on A/B that working through the re-building of the program is focused on building knowledge, fundamental training, and the right attitude. I’m hopeful we will get the opportunity to actually rehearse together in our actual classes sooner rather than later. Time will tell.
Our Snap! Raise project is off to a decent start, with the project scheduled to conclude on October 20th while we are on our fall break. We are still not up to my expectations on participation level or completeness of student account information, but it is slowly improving. I’ll keep after them to do so get things completed. We need to see an improvement in participation level, or this effort will fall short of our budgeted result. As easy as this project is to do successfully, I’m expecting our students to max out their effort by the end of this week—they certainly won’t be thinking of anything school related after this Friday!
Rehearsals while we are on current in-person format (A/B), the rehearsal day will continue to correspond with a day the students are already in the building at 3:45 p.m. A-Day in-person students will meet on Wednesdays, and B-Day students will meet on Tuesdays. These rehearsals will run from 4:00-5:15 p.m.; parents can pick up their student at 5:15. In addition to these rehearsals, we will have a brief rehearsal on the evening of any home football performance (October 16th and October 30th). I’m asking our coaches who teach individual lessons here to try and coordinate with the after-school rehearsal days until we’re back in-person/every day. These folks will probably have a greater level of involvement than in previous years in an effort to recover the ground lost over the last six months.
All rehearsals and performances of the band are part of the grade in the course! If a student is not in attendance, they will not receive credit for that event. Per the course syllabus, exceptions to attendance at rehearsals are at the director’s discretion (athletes at games, verified illness, and unresolvable conflicts with other school-related functions). There is no way to “make up” a missed performance. I do not like publishing a schedule that has to be constantly adjusted; as a result, I’ve tried to communicate rehearsal and performance dates/times well in advance. The situation we’re currently in makes publishing a long-range calendar at this point much harder to do with any degree of accuracy. I encourage everyone to watch your email/Remind/Google Classroom/or Infinite Campus communications.
Uniforms made a HUGE difference in how we presented ourselves on October 2nd. Getting our concert uniforms fitted are the next step, and a good bit of progress has been made the last two weeks in getting this accomplished. Let’s hope we are able to get our annual photo shoot and fall semester concerts to happen! The dates for our upcoming concerts are: November 12th (Symphonic Bands); November 13th (Jazz Café I); and December 15th (Holiday concert).
Audition music was made available to all students in their Google Classroom/Classwork. Auditions will be recorded the week of November 16-20, with the format (live or virtual) to be determined. I’m still waiting on definitive word concerning All-District and All-State auditions (the same excerpts will be used as in the past). I am confident this information will become available in the coming days. Kids should NOT WAIT to begin working on these pieces; they will be graded on their performance and seated in chair order in November!
Thanks for everything you do in support of your band program! Eight weeks after school finally started, we continue to revise schedules, how instruction is delivered, expectations of teachers and students, and even the makeup and duties of our faculty and staff. Not a day goes by without a new twist to some aspect of how and what we are doing.
I am so blessed to be assisted in navigating these very unfamiliar waters by a group of band parents who “get it” and work so hard to see to it that their kids have the best musical and performance opportunities they can under the difficult current circumstances. That is what has made our first quarter work as well as it has, and what will bring about our ultimate success going forward.