U of L School of Music Virtual All State Audition Help Session

In past years, our band students have had the opportunity to travel to U of L to work with clinicians on their All-State Audition Music.  Due to COVID the in person clinic is being replaced by a virtual clinic.  Please see below for details on this years virtual clinic which will be held on Wednesday, September 30th.  If you have any questions, please email Mr. Rogers directly at bradford.rogers@oldham.kyschools.us.

From Dr. Frederick Speck, U of L Bands:
 
Though COVID restrictions preclude hosting an on-site version of our Annual All-State Audition Clinic, we are pleased to let you know that we will be hosting a Zoom Clinic on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. As in the past, our artist faculty, along with other excellent local professionals will serve as clinicians.
 
We know that all of you are teaching in a variety of unique modes and that the challenges are great. We are living that out at UofL, too. All of us on the UofL Band staff wish you our best. Please let us know if there are specific ways in which we can help.
 
Below you will find instructions to share with your students so that they may attend the Zoom Workshop.
 
SCHEDULE
6:30-7:00pm – Registration/Join Zoom Meeting
7:00-9:00pm – Zoom All-State Workshop with UofL Faculty
 
REGISTRATION
The Zoom call will be available to join starting at 6:30pm. We will use that time as a registration window to get everyone assigned to their instrument meeting room. Once signed in, you will change your username to "First Name Last Name, Instrument," example: Frederick Fennell, Percussion. From there, you will be assigned to a "meeting room" within the Zoom call based on your instrument.
 
ZOOM MEETING INFORMATION
Topic: UofL School of Music All-State Workshop
Time: Sep 30, 2020 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
 
Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/93473728572?pwd=Nm02QktPSGZJSjFLNU9HR0hDd1FBdz09
 
Meeting ID: 934 7372 8572
Passcode: 599153

Letter from the Director: Next Week’s Rehearsal Schedule

Good evening all:

Thanks for your help and support the past few weeks!  It has been a particularly difficult stretch getting ready for our first actual live performance in over six months.  I thought the band performed admirably on Friday night and represented themselves extremely well.  Just as a point of reference, Friday’s performance was only the third time the entire band has had the opportunity to play together as a group since the last 30 minutes of band camp week–seven weeks ago.  Really pretty remarkable…and something to build upon.

We will return to our "summer" rehearsal format for next week only, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Monday-All Brass

Thursday-Woodwinds and Percussion

The focus next week will be on concert literature and audition excerpts.

Once we begin A/B in-person classes on Sept. 28, all after school rehearsals will occur immediately after school from 4:00-5:15 p.m.  All students will be required to attend one rehearsal per week, and the rehearsal day will be the same as one of the days they attend school regularly (all A-Day students regardless of class on Monday or Wednesday; all B-Day students on Tuesday or Thursday), with no rehearsals on the planned "rotating" Fridays, other than before home football performances (see below).  I’m still working out the logistics on this and will announce the days each group will meet by Monday 9/21…so stay tuned closely!

As a friendly reminder: ALL students and staff must complete the online health screening form, including a self-check of your temperature, prior to arrival on campus for ANY REHEARSAL OR PERFORMANCE EVENT.  

Once you arrive, you are required to have your temperature verified before you enter the building.  

ALL students must complete the attendance check in to verify your arrival and attendance–this is in ADDITION to the health check survey and is used to confirm your attendance at required rehearsals and performances.

Upcoming home football performances (required performances): 

October 2nd (v. Fern Creek; HOMECOMING)

October 16th (v. Bryan Station)

October 30th (v. Collins–Halloween Show???)

NONE OF THESE DATES HAVE CHANGED since they were first announced in February…

I hope to see all of you in our Zoom meeting of the Band Boosters at 7:00 p.m. on Monday night!

Bradford D. Rogers

Oldham County High School Band

1150 N. Hwy. 393

LaGrange, KY 40031

Adjustments/announcements for next week’s rehearsals/performance

Rehearsal schedule for week of September 14-18:

FULL BAND Monday AND Thursday 6:00-7:30.  Make sure to wear proper shoes; we will need to learn how to get onto the field for halftime on 9/18.  All of the time will be spent on the back (band) practice lot.

A detailed schedule for our first performance next Friday will be finalized by this weekend; it will be posted here and through booster email.

A form for pre-paid concession packages will come out this weekend as well.  Because restrictions require all concessions to be pre-packaged, "no-touch" delivery items, pre-ordering is the only option you’ll have if you want concession items after you perform on Friday night (3rd quarter),   This form MUST be turned in with payment at next MONDAY’s rehearsal!

Information about parent tickets will be forwarded as we receive the plan.  Stadium capacity is severely limited, so you’ll need to be timely in responding once we know how that will work.

Keep your eyes peeled for more info as we get through the next couple of days–from the boosters and from me.

At least we’re getting to PLAY TOGETHER…finally!

 

Wash your hands…

Mr. R

Band-Related COVID-19 Case Reported and Testing Info

Dear Parents and Students,

We had one percussion student receive a positive test result since last Thursday night.  

Following protocol, the entire percussion section is required to stay out of rehearsals for tonight; more info concerning how this might affect camp week for the affected section will be forthcoming later today.

At this time, woodwinds will still have rehearsal.  If that changes, an email will be sent and we will post to Facebook and Google Classroom. If you have questions and concerns, please email Mr. Rogers directly at Bradford.rogers@oldham.kyschools.us.

Others may consider seeking a test for themself in the meantime.

Below is information on where to be tested in Oldham County if you choose.

Seven Counties Services
2141 Spencer Court LaGrange (off Commerce Parkway) (502)222-7210

Drive-thru testing
No appointment needed
No symptoms/positive exposure required for testing

Thursday, July 23 hours  – until 4 PM
Friday, July 24 hours – 9 AM – Noon

Next week hours:
Monday-Thursday 8:30 – 11 AM BREAK 1-3 PM
Friday 9 – 11 AM

Stay safe…Mr. R

Letter from the Director regarding Virtual Learning Academy and In-Person Classes

To: OCHS Band Parents and Students
From: Brad Rogers
Re: Updates, current and near future
Date: July 21, 2020

Virtual Academy vs. in-person classes:

Over the weekend, I received advice from our principal that directs me to accept any students returning from Virtual Academy status to in-person instruction at the beginning of the second and/or third trimester.  While I believe my original recommendation is still the best option for anyone choosing the Virtual Academy over concerns for the safety of their child or family for the beginning of the school year (one based mostly on keeping students’ contacts in band classes the same until the viral transmission concerns are mitigated, and to a lesser degree the continuity of instruction), I WILL certainly accept anyone who decides to come back to in-person band classes at the end of each trimester of VA. I will do the best I can to incorporate them into where we are at the time of return.

That means (to me, anyway) that students will need to enroll in their band class for the school year as normal.  To take band out of their schedule will create a situation in which they may well not be able to fit it in with their other academic choices if they wait to do so until they come back.  Mr. Steedly and Mr. Moore have not given advice on this to me, but it makes sense that it will make the process of a potential return from VA easier in terms of class schedule.

In deciding who will deliver instruction to VA band students, it is pretty apparent to me that while teachers involved in daily in-person instruction will not be expected to teach VA, I’m really the only person in our building who can do that, and set the VA kids on a path to a smooth potential return to regular instruction.  I will discuss this situation with Mr. Moore, and come to some conclusion in the next few days about how that will work.

Summer Band and Camp Week:

Summer rehearsals have been going extremely well, attendance has been especially good (better than normal summers, actually), and it is very obvious the students have missed each others musical and social company.  They have been very compliant with the distancing, masking and all the other expectations of dealing with COVID-19, and frankly I think it will help them negotiate the opening of school having gone through some of these things prior to opening day.

I will have to make a decision on any changes to the Camp Week (July 27-31) schedule by the end of this week (Thursday/Friday).  Adjustments could be coming based on whether or not we will be allowed to attend “large gatherings” (football games), allowed to march halftime shows, and other unknowns.  With very little guidance on these things coming from the state or KHSAA, it may end up being another of those decisions based on instinct, past history of how we have dealt with such things, and what my colleagues at NOHS and SOHS will be doing on their campuses. 

Regardless of what we end up being allowed to do from a marching band perspective, we will still have a band camp!  Band camp has always been very important; this year, we have to begin addressing the nearly three months of instruction, performances, and growth we missed since this crazy situation began.  The schedule for the week may be adjusted to make our group size, social distancing, and contacts easier to manage.  It will still involve a morning and evening rehearsal session as originally planned, but possibly only ONE session for each student each day (either morning or evening).

And we could keep what we have already planned for; I’ll try to have the necessary conversations with admin, athletic director and my colleagues in the next couple of days and come to a decision by Friday.  Stay tuned.

Please know I will try to make the best choices for our program based on the advice and direction I continue to receive.  It’s the end result, not the current difficulties that we should focus on.

Brad Rogers 

Letter from the Director regarding Parental Concerns

To: OCHS Band Boosters and Students of the 2020-21 Band
From: Brad Rogers
Date: 7/18/2020
 
First and foremost, I want to express my appreciation for the difficulties you are all experiencing in making decisions regarding how your child will receive their education beginning in August of this year.  I am thankful to not have children in this position (they are long beyond “grown up” at this point).  I have agonized over the potential solutions for keeping one of the best band programs in Kentucky together through all of this.  What we do in the OCHS band program is aimed squarely at providing outstanding musical opportunities for high school students through ensemble performance, and has been as long as I have been connected with this program. 
 
Many of you know I don’t do “social media”…I really don’t have time for it, and think it’s the original “time suck” in terms of productivity, so I have to rely on others to clue me into what’s being said, even on the OCHS Band Facebook page (I haven’t even subscribed).  I wish people who have issues with anything we’re doing would come to me first.  If they didn’t get an answer or at least an explanation, I could understand the negative posts if that’s the only way they could publicly express their dissatisfaction.  Divisive stuff on the internet for everyone to see really doesn’t help us, especially now.
 
Believe me, I feel your pain.  I’m still here because I love working with your kids.  Personally, the collegial relationship between teacher and students in achieving musical goals, teaching kids how to learn to accept others’ talents and limitations, and build relationships that will last long after they leave high school are the true motivations for me to remain here.  I could have said “enough” long ago, and have answered the question “What are you still doing here”? ad infinitum. The answer has always been, “the kids”.  And by that, I mean the “band” as a whole, and careful deliberation on what is best for the individual student in band.
 
All of that being said…everyone from the superintendent on down to the kids entering kindergarten and their families have been dealt a situation in which there are no truly “right or wrong” answers.  Combined with terribly little reliable, consistent guidance or advice about what direction you really should take to get through it, the end result is frustration and confusion.  As we had to do in March, I feel we’re all sort of “making it up as we go”.  Any time I’m faced with that scenario, I have to make decisions based on what things will look like when the difficulty is finally resolved—and we will be years, not weeks or months, in getting to that point after the current situation is resolved.  The choices created by these decisions are not necessarily what any of us want, and are developed based on a return to a solid band program built on the concept of collegial, in-person instruction.  And as quickly as possible.
 
I can assure you that our school leadership from the teacher team leaders all the way to the superintendent are agonizing over a situation even they have little control over, and their decisions ultimately end up affecting what I can or cannot do in putting our program back together.  Everything from how to handle summer rehearsals, camp schedules, carpooling concerns, COVID-19 restrictions of all kinds based on guidance from KMEA, state and local health officials, and many other aspects of what we do had to be negotiated to even have a summer program at all.  I’m thankful our building leadership was willing to let us begin to return to rehearsals, even on a limited basis.  They did so because they understand the importance of our program to the students who elect to be a part of it. 
 
I don’t WANT to lose any band students—not to the Virtual Academy, to the lack of contact over the last few months, the fact that band classes will be different for a while, or the loss of performance opportunities.  While I have very little control over what happens outside the program itself—that was the case before March 12th, 2020—I do get to decide what is best for the long-term viability of the band program within any restrictions I have to deal with.  For me, it has nothing to do with what has already happened, or what we don’t know, but what this program will be about after I’m gone. That has to be what I’ve already stated: the OCHS band is squarely focused on providing outstanding musical opportunities for high school students through ensemble performance.  
 
Yes, you may have to make a hard choice for the present, but I know you’ll do the right thing for your child and your family.  I won’t argue that with you for one second.  Please know that the hard choices and decisions I’m making in this situation are in the best interest of the band program and its future. 
 
We will both have to live with the choices we make, just like we always have.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end.
 
Brad Rogers 
 

Director’s Comments July 16, 2020

Director’s Comments July 16th, 2020
 
Still have a few holdouts on submitting information for the band directory; hopefully we can finalize this in the coming days. Rosters in Infinite Campus for the coming year are now available, but they may well change dramatically as parents/students weigh their option to go to the Virtual Academy instead (see comments below). Symphonic 2 looks like 56 students, Symphonic 1 68, Percussion 17, and Jazz 14 (could use a few more). When I’m able, I’ll match them with the directory info for accuracy.

The Virtual Academy is not and can not be a band class. Parents and students choosing the Virtual Academy option for their academics probably would be best served through employing a private instructor for the year and returning to the program for 2021-22. There is no way a student could “practice” on his/her own and just show up for the performances. All of the work done through in-person instruction would not have occurred, and ensemble performers train themselves through the rehearsal process to “know” each others’ contribution to the whole in performance situations.

Going “virtual” would open up the possibility of taking another academic course in place of the band class, but also would likely mean these students would not return to the program at any point in the future. Lessons are great for moving the individual forward but will never take the place of the ensemble experience or all of the collaborative activities involved in producing successful performances together.

Sad, but just another uncomfortable choice students and parents may have to make based on their own situation at this point.

I would encourage all of you to read the article included with these comments at your convenience. Some of you may already have…

Drum Majors for 2020 (announced last meeting): Aaron Cook, Ashtyn Jones, and Andrew Witak. Now, let’s hope we’re able to have a performing marching band!

Summer program activities have finally begun; we had our first pair of rehearsals this week. I want to thank especially Lisa Adams for coordinating our first week check in process, and Lorena Reed for handling the instrument checkout, flipfolder and music stand concession.

Monday’s brass group numbered 44 students (a few we know about were out for this one), and instrumentation was decent (need more horn players). It was obvious that 1) the students had not played a ton recently, 2) the potential for success was definitely there, and 3) they enjoyed the opportunity to play together. As we will do tonight with the woodwinds and percussion, we worked primarily on getting back on the instruments, and did some light standing marching fundamentals. The plan is to repeat that process next week to get kids a bit more acclimated before camp week begins.

The band camp schedule is different than in past years, with a morning (8-noon) and evening (6-9) pairing of rehearsal blocks. Students will not be allowed to remain at school during the middle of the day, and should go home, relax/eat, and return for the evening sessions each day. This cuts out approximately 2 hours of playing rehearsal time each day. I have not yet determined how Friday will look for sure, but could be morning session only.

While I’m on the subject of camp: I still have not heard anything definitive from KHSAA concerning “fans in the stands” at games, or really anything else that might impact our marching band going forward. No one seems willing to make that decision at this point—and I’m relatively sure that bands are the furthest thing from their minds in their deliberations. Also, their limitations on practice time/week (six HOURS per week, per sport) have started to bleed into band camp schedules that have already been announced to band students and parents across the state. These administrative decisions (if I’m directed by admin here to align with the six hour/week requirement) would ultimately affect how camp week is done and whether we had the time or the need to even learn the marching drill to a show of any length. If faced with this prospect, any changes to our plan will be decided next week, PRIOR to camp week, and will likely involve simply continuing our two-a-week, Brass and Woodwind/percussion evening rehearsals. Right now, it’s way more important to get the kids playing together as best we can than anything else. Our camp staff has been attending the evening rehearsals and will be critical to our success later in the year regardless of the format of camp week.

I have had some preliminary discussions about spring travel, but until I hear definitively that field trips of any kind will be possible next year, it is not really time to do any more than simply think about possibilities.

The awards ceremony went very well last month; I still have a good number of awards certificates, etc. that need to be picked up. I’ll work toward getting some of those out at our summer rehearsal nights.

I have begun work on rehearsal and performance alternatives for the reopening of school; some of these ideas I floated in my last Google Meet with students. Any viable alternative that will be of benefit will include our talented paraprofessional section coaches, probably at a greater level of involvement than in previous years. While I have put considerable thought into more than one scenario, and shared them with administration here, after last night’s school board meeting and today’s administrative staff gathering to try to put together plans, I’ll have to revisit and likely redo anything I thought might work. I hope to have more than this to report to you live tonight, but that really depends upon how far our admin team has progressed in their plan for the school in one day.

Thanks for all you do in support of this program! Although we still are in the dark about the beginning of the school year, it’s important that we plan ahead as best we can, concern ourselves with continuing the financial viability of the organization, and focus on making the future bright for the program. This won’t last forever, and the students need for the band program to be ready when we come out of this.
 
What are we really doing here?
Brad Rogers
 
 I’ve been an educator my entire adult life, working in what I consider one of the most important subjects a student can choose to undertake—the study and performance of music. Music and its elements can be found in and connected to every academic discipline. That students choose to become involved in actual music making in our schools is but one of many factors that differentiates music from the so-called “core” or required subjects studied in our educational system.

Fortunately, this choice draws many bright young people to our music classrooms. By any measure— academic, social, or talent potential—music kids are among the best students in any school. Ensemble directors should recognize that students under their tutelage have made a conscious decision to be in their classroom rather than elsewhere.

The influences affecting their decision will vary depending upon the student. Some may be drawn to the music classroom because their friends are making the same choice. Others may have had some prior music experience or a parent or sibling that had been involved in the past. The rigor of musical study and performance may interest those who have a strong academic background. The artistry involved in performance may lead the “creative” student into band, orchestra, or choir. Whatever the reason, once a student has made the choice to be in our classes, the real trick is in keeping them involved.

So, the initial question posed still stands. What follows will attempt to move toward either an answer or possibly more questions.

For many students involved in music, it is a way to be a part of something bigger than themselves that includes a wide variety of personalities and abilities all striving for a common result. There are other things that can provide a similar experience (like team sports, honor societies, and academic teams). Music performance especially distinguishes itself in that every person is constantly contributing to the end result. Performance ensembles don’t have a “bench” or a “second string” set of performers. Ensembles never stop to substitute musicians in the middle of a concert to give the “starters” a rest–all members play an important role in the production of the overall product at every juncture in rehearsal and performance. Music can be an unbelievably effective tool in developing great team members and collaborators—qualities that are highly valued and increasingly rare in today’s real world.

For some, doing something with friends or others with common interests is most important. The social aspect of music ensembles is not to be overlooked. Learning to work closely with others who are friends is relatively easy. Learning to do so with those who you don’t always agree with or possibly not at all encourages empathy and acceptance of the kind of diversity our society is actually built upon.

For a small minority of students in any ensemble, music becomes who they are. They can’t imagine a life without music playing a leading role in every aspect. They are usually perfectionists who ultimately end up having to live with constant imperfection. Every great performance has its flaws (unless you can edit or auto-tune them out). No one will ever completely figure out how to play an instrument or compose a masterpiece, although the rare individuals the world calls masters of the craft come closest to that goal. These students are willing to give enormous amounts of energy to both their own efforts and those of their fellow ensemble members through example and mentorship. These individuals provide a picture of what passion, commitment to excellence, work ethic, and artistic fearlessness look and sound like for everyone else in the group—in short, they embody what leadership is.

Personally, music is what makes me who I am. Decades into a career, rehearsing, teaching and performing music still excites me every day, and although I come home every day totally exhausted has never felt like work—unlike a lot of the other things happening in today’s schools that certainly do.

So, what motivates a long-term commitment to music study on the part of students who are in our classes for an obviously diverse set of reasons?

Realistically, very few of our students will become professionals in the music field—and they shouldn’t. For students who don’t necessarily feel that music is me connection, other means of creating value through their involvement must be developed.
As a music educator, I believe the most important things we must do for all students are:

  1. expect excellence from everyone involved, regardless the level of experience
  2. cultivate a sense of family, with each member knowing they have an important role
  3. provide a rich, significant diet of repertoire in every aspect of the program
  4. set incremental goals, with each one just out of reach of the current level of proficiency
  5. provide a wide variety of performance opportunities
  6. plan in such a way to put students in a position to be successful in their work

 
I doubt that you can leave any of the above out of your thinking and completely serve students in a music program. For example, to achieve #1, you would need every one of the others.

With that in mind, if there is a single answer to my question it has to be a little bit of all of the things mentioned above. Each member of our ensembles is there for a reason, and for some it is not the one we might think. It is up to us to find ways to understand as best we can and provide the vehicle that validates their choice of music as part of their educational experience.

Brad Rogers has been a director of bands at Oldham County High School in Buckner, Kentucky, since 1987. He can be reached at bradford.rogers@oldham.kyschools.us.

Director’s Comments June 18, 2020

Director’s Comments
June 18th, 2020
Still have a few holdouts on submitting information for the band directory; hopefully we can finalize this in the coming days.  Guidance has not yet made available 2020-21 rosters in Infinite Campus, but that should be coming soon.  When I’m able, I’ll match them with the directory info for accuracy.

Drum Majors for 2020: Aaron Cook, Ashtyn Jones, and Andrew Witak.  Now, let’s hope we’re able to have a performing marching band!

Summer program activities are slowly coming into focus.  All three HS directors met with Brent Deaves Tuesday morning to discuss KHSAA and KMEA suggested guidelines.  We were instructed to come up with our own set of guidelines for OC school band programs, aligned with KHSAA/KMEA timeframes.  Mr. McAllister, Ms. Buchholz and myself met again this morning to complete our draft document which has been sent to Mr. Deaves and administration for review. 

At this time, it appears we will be allowed to have our summer rehearsals beginning on July 6 on Monday and Thursday nights, and that we’ll be allowed to have summer band camp from July 27-31 here at school.  You can count on those rehearsals looking and sounding a LOT different than we are used to, and the schedule may very well have to be altered in terms of both time frame and who can attend to comply with guidelines.  I hope to have a definitive plan for the two-a-week evening rehearsals and camp week by the July 4th weekend, but must wait to see if our OC-based plan is approved by admin.

I have had some preliminary discussions about spring travel, and hope to be able to share more with you about options by the end of July.  I do think we’ll be looking at a location that can provide a trip shorter in length to make it both affordable and achievable for families.  Obviously, we’ll be facing a reduced time frame for the payment schedule and any fundraising directed toward supporting a trip.  At this point, I’m hoping we’ll be allowed to travel at all.

New EOMS Director: David Centers.  He should be “in” on our meeting tonight; if you haven’t met him yet, I’ll give him a little time to introduce himself.

The awards ceremony went very well, with a couple of interesting “twists”.  I think everyone who was able to attend was grateful for the opportunity, and I was very glad that families could attend without cost.  Thanks to all of you who worked with the health dept. and administration to make this a reality!

I have begun work on rehearsal and performance alternatives for the reopening of school; some of these ideas I floated in my last Google Meet with students.  Any viable alternative that will be of benefit will include our talented paraprofessional section coaches, probably at a greater level of involvement than in previous years.  I feel that I need at least three possibilities with different structures, because we really don’t know anything about how we’ll go about reopening schools yet.

Thanks for all you do in support of this program!  Although we still are in the dark about the beginning of the school year, it’s important that we plan ahead as best we can, concern ourselves with continuing the financial viability of the organization, and focus on making the future bright for the program.  This won’t last forever, and the students need for the band program to be ready when we come out of this.

Director’s Comments April 23, 2020

Director’s Comments
April 23rd, 2020
 
The latest in a long series of disappointments was announced earlier this week, as the decision to keep schools closed until the end of the school year became a reality.  I’ve sensed this would be the way this would go since our spring break week, but hoped I would be wrong.
 
NTI will continue until our last day of instruction, currently slated to be May 27th.  OCBE will meet on Monday and will certainly discuss new information from the state Department of Education related to NTI and required instructional hours provided.  Any adjustments will be announced officially after the board has done their deliberation, but I am confident we won’t extend beyond the 27th.
 
Placement auditions for the two concert bands next year will not take place.  Logistics and the time frame simply won’t allow enough time, and the point is to hear the incoming kids play “live”—I actually know only a handful of them, and even at that, very little about their musical development.  After discussing the situation with Mr. Steedly, we agreed that upperclassmen will be assigned to 7th period band, percussionists to Percussion Tech, and all incoming students to 6th period band.  The 6th period band will be augmented by performers from the 7th period band to address any instrumentation inequalities for public performances and concert festivals.  That’s the best we can do under the current restrictions.
 
The program budget has been submitted to the school bookkeeper along with our booster fundraising requests.  My deadline was April 15, and I just barely managed to meet it.  The budget itself maintains all existing program priorities, but some are at a reduced level of funding.  The result is a reduction in band fees from $400.00 in 2019-20 to $375.00 in 2020-21; not a lot, but in a direction that I think they need to go when many of our families may well be hurting financially for a while recovering from what we’ve been dealing with.  I also recommended that the participation portion of the fee structure ($160.00) be waived for the second/third child enrolled in the program.  The siblings would be responsible for only $215.00 each (camp, transportation, uniform, and instructional materials fees).  The booster fundraising obligation has not been increased to make up for any of the reduction in fees.  If we are fortunate enough to do well on our fundraising efforts, we can try and address making up for the cuts toward the end of the spring semester.  If not, we’ll still provide a good level of support for our kids and their band experience.
 
Summer program activities are still very much a question mark.  We will need to organize a “curbside” turn in for concert band equipment the students have at home and their practice folders/music toward the end of instruction, and figure out a way to get marching band horns out to those who need them.  This needs to be coordinated with Conrad Music, so the concert instruments can be properly cleaned and maintenance work done by the time we get back to school in August (wishful thinking?)
 
Plan now to assume we’ll be allowed to have our summer rehearsals beginning on July 6 on Monday and Thursday nights; Plan now that we’ll be allowed to have summer band camp from July 27-31 here at school.  If we’re not allowed to do these things, we will explore any available options (sectionals instead of full band, playing wind instruments in PPE…).  If there are no options, we’ll reduce/refund camp fees and hit the ground running with sectional coaches once school begins, and do the best we can.
 
I am scheduled to have a conversation with our superintendent about major trips tomorrow morning.  After speaking with Mr. Roth at length about this, we will be best advised to hold off, possibly until the end of the summer, to begin work on any major travel for the spring of 2021.  We will have to come to a decision about a closer to home, shorter in length trip to make it both affordable and achievable in a reduced time frame for the payment schedule and any fundraising directed toward supporting a trip.
EOMS director interviews began this afternoon; over 30 applicants placed materials with OCBE for consideration.  I offered to assist with anything the administrators there wished; as a happy result, I have been involved in the process of finding someone to fill the position almost from the beginning.  It will take several days to work through, but I’m confident there are qualified and capable people in the pool of folks invited to interview.  This is an extremely important position in terms of the potential impact on two high school programs, and we need to get it “right” for the long term. 
 
Awards banquet alternatives: I’m all “ears” on this, but whatever we end up doing will need to pass muster with whatever guidelines all school groups will be expected to follow on gatherings.  I’ve submitted proofs for senior award plaques, assembled thumb drives for the seniors’ recording compilation, ordered a gross of chevrons, and am preparing to print certificates for all band members.  I’ve even given some thought to personalizing the compilations with a personal video from me for each of the seniors (gotta get a haircut first). 
 
We just may have to hand them all out at our instrument check in “curbside” soiree…sad but at this point, likely.
 
Thanks for all you do in support of this program!  I can assure you that our success (past and future) is a direct result of your commitment and hard work backing what we do.
 

Letter from the Director regarding Covid-19 Fallout

To: OCHS Band members and incoming freshmen; Band parents
From: Brad Rogers
Subj: Covid-19 fallout
Date: April 26, 2020
 
I know the last few weeks have been a mixture of lost opportunity, disappointment, confusion, emotion, unexpected and unwanted change, and maybe even a little fear.  I’ve been involved in public education and teaching band for over 40 years, and have never experienced a situation like the one we are currently dealing with.  It truly is impossible to teach “band” without having an ensemble together.  The very definition of the word band implies a collegial connection that results in a common outcome for the group; band as it relates to music absolutely requires that interaction in real time between the performers to achieve its true goal.
 
So, under the current circumstances, teachers and students have been relegated to “making it up” as we go.  The targets of learning and growing in every discipline have been affected by the following:
 
            The uncertainty of the potential date to return to school (we do know this now…)
            The availability of connectivity to online resources and equipment
            The degree of parental involvement in making sure students are trying
            The ability of teachers to construct and provide relevant instruction without overdoing it
            The willingness of students to give solid effort toward what they are being asked to do
 
Most folks can come up with even more things that run alongside the few I’ve mentioned above. 
 
There is still an enormous amount of the unknown, specifically for our band program.  I’ll attempt to address some of that in the following.  Please read all the way to the end, and reach out to me with any questions or concerns at your earliest convenience.
 
1) Band awards banquet, graduation, final performances

None of these events will happen this spring, as we’re not allowed to gather in groups.      The awards we normally use to recognize all band members at our traditional banquet will still be presented, but the format for doing so will be quite different and is yet to be    fully developed—we are not going to just “move on” without these important recognitions.  Graduation adjustments will be something that is determined by people above my pay grade, but we can assume the band will not be involved in any live performance.  Final jazz and band concerts have been canceled and won’t be
performed this year.
 
2) Placement auditions

Will not be performed this year.  All upperclassmen returning to our program for 2020-21 will be placed in the 7th period band class, with all incoming freshmen placed in 6th period band (all percussionists regardless of grade will be in Percussion Techniques).  This is exactly as it was done in 2010-11, when we instituted the 6th period band as a training group for the advanced band; placement auditions were actually implemented in the 2011-12 school year.  The addition of section coaches for every instrument and placement of students in a group appropriate for their level of development are the reasons we have progressed as a total program.  So, in effect, the covid-19 pandemic will take our program back about a decade in terms of its structure—not good, but not the end of the world.  It will be necessary to utilize some 7th period band students to perform with the 6th period band dependent upon instrumentation balance, but that is much like what we do when taking major trips in which individuals may or may not participate.  For 2021-22, we’ll go back to the placement audition format and move on.
 
3) Summer band rehearsals

Until I receive instructions from higher-ups, I cannot tell you anything with certainty. For now, you should plan to begin summer rehearsals on July 6th as originally announced, Monday and Thursday nights from 6:00-8:30.  We’ll see if they are allowed, and under what constraints if any.  We will work out a process for checking out marching band instruments (mellophones, baritones, percussion, etc.) coordinated with the ending of school year; that way, you’ll at least have them to practice with at home if we’re left with that as our only option.
 
4) Band Camp (July 27-31 at OCHS)

Still a question mark.  If we are allowed to gather in large groups, even that may not fit with rehearsing an ensemble of over 100 people together, outside or inside.  If smaller group work is allowed, I may have to completely restructure the schedule for the week to accommodate sectionals rather than full band, partial day or a rotation of time inside/outside with the small groups, etc.  We don’t even know for sure if or when football games can be played, or if they are, if fans will be allowed to attend!  Marching Band will likely be different, and teaching drill may have to wait until we can actually do it with the full band—if we can do it at all.
 
5) What will the 2020-21 school year look like?

Who knows at this point?  There are all sorts of ideas floating around, none of which are conducive to having band as a full ensemble—as anyone in band knows, you really can’t have it without everyone involved together.  Split-day schedules, A/B days, rotating class schedules and more online learning are among the things that might be considered.  We will have to be very intentional in adjusting to whatever is decided.  Hopefully, people like band and choir directors at all levels will have a voice in the process.  I’m not very confident at this point (end of April) that we will begin the year like we did in 2019-20.
 
6) 2021 is a “trip year” for the band…

I’m still hopeful that we will be allowed to travel next spring, and have begun the planning for this with our travel service provider and the Band Boosters.  However, we can’t begin to discuss how much it will cost, or where we might go until much later than I’d like.  Usually by now, we’ve already received board approval for such an undertaking, and have put together payment schedules, etc. so families can plan appropriately.  I will not put us in a position to commit any money to a trip until I’m certain it can actually happen, and will insist that travel cancellation insurance be part of any travel package    we agree to.  None of this can happen until we get direction from the board on this, and honestly, they have bigger issues to deal with in getting us back in school first. 
 
7) Student retention

This is actually my biggest concern coming out of this unprecedented situation. Because the connection between players and the every-day work we do in ensemble rehearsals has been completely broken and will remain so for the foreseeable future, there is no perfect way for me as a director to ensure students are really doing all that’s musically necessary for their success.  Some students practice every day as part of who they are; others practice when they “have to” (like cramming for a test); and some NEVER play the instrument outside the normal class activity.  This last group (thankfully small) is in band for reasons, that while valid, are not musically oriented.  Without being held accountable by the pressure of performing together in the group, it is this last group of  students who are most in jeopardy of returning once we’re given the opportunity. 
 
I’m especially concerned for both the “socially oriented” members we currently have in our program, and for incoming 9th graders who have not yet had a high school experience.  Going through what will amount to one quarter of your school year without playing together in band and not practicing on your own will result in many of these students simply putting the instrument in their past—creating a situation where unrealized potential is the result for all concerned. 
 
As difficult as it is to retain even our most dedicated musicians in the face of academic and scheduling pressures, it is just as important to bring these students on the fringe of what we are really about into the fold, and keep them there.  Any influence from our current “band kids” or “band parents” on these folks to encourage them to come back and be a part of the rebirth of our school in the coming months will be very important. 
 
In the coming days, you will be receiving a number of important items from me or your middle school directors.  Please take the time to read them carefully, watch any videos presented, and reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
 
Thanks for getting all the way “to the bottom”!  I’m looking forward to putting this thing back together, and soon!
 
Brad Rogers
bradford.rogers@oldham.kyschools.us