Still Learning

The Backpack Middle School Bands have spent the past couple months preparing for our trip to the annual adjudication festival.  And talk about progress – these are not the same players they were at Christmas time; they have made great strides.

During this time, especially this past week, I have been challenged to improve, as well.  I spent last weekend chaperoning for the All-State Bands at Purdue University.  The Concert Band (second band) rehearsed  under the expert direction of Dr. Lissa May of the Indiana University music education department; the Honor Band was conducted by Ray Cramer, retired I.U. Director of Bands, whose name is synonymous with wind ensembles.  While observing a few hours worth of rehearsals I was amazed at their attention to all the little details.  Coming from a middle school band program, I was really enjoying the high level of playing from these super-talented high school students.  But the conductors were hearing much more than I was.  So I was challenged to listen more closely to the details of my own bands’ playing this week.  I realized that I have been ignoring some of the rough edges.

Second, the Backpack High School band director paid a visit to BandLand to help out during our rehearsal yesterday, and he made several suggestions to help us improve our articulations, and he suggested some changes to our percussion section setup that turned out to be very helpful.

Finally, composer, teacher and long-time colleague Les Taylor accepted my invitation to come listen to an after-school rehearsal of my Concert Band students today.  And he surprised me by bringing along his wife, Dr. Susan Taylor, the director of the Anderson University Wind Ensemble.  It was great.  They both made numerous helpful comments and were very encouraging to my students as well as to me.  Susan even filled in on bass drum for one of my drummers who went home sick today.

So what have I learned this week?  I have learned that if I want my bands to sound their best, I need help, and I need to be challenged.  I can’t let my ego get in the way.  You would think that after 19 years, I wouldn’t need any help, but frankly, a great performance involves too many details.  Even the best directors need some occasional feedback.  And since I am far from the best, I will take all the help I can get.  Thanks to my friends for all the assistance!

Our performances are tomorrow night.

Wish us well!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mom on March 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    How did tonight’s performance go, Rob? Mom


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