They think I am Superwoman….

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    Three years ago, I was just the middle school band director, assisting the high school and pushing my younger ones to excel on their instrument. Two years ago, I was assigned to HS choir in addition to MS band, splitting my day between both schools. That was the year I met my friend, Depression. With 20 lbs. lost due to the illness, and gained back, due to the ice cream….I now enter a year where (after many cuts across the system due to a shrinking population) I will be teaching three grades of middle school band, HS choir AND (drum roll, please) HS Band. Now, this is TN. This is marching band. A job all unto itself. I have no assistant director. There has been talk of cutting chorus (which I had finally built up into a decent, motivated performing group; had one kid go to All-State this year, another got a hefty vocal scholarship to pursue a music ed major…). But the kids don’t deserve that. But I am only one woman, right?

    So this is where I need you guys, to help me make sure I am thinking of all of the things I have to get done.
    Please list the best resources out there (or just give me here what they say….save me some time;) ) for marching band stretches, warmups, handbooks, discipline, administrative tasks (inventories, libraries, student info), band booster management (I have one now that thinks they control the universe….), and most importantly, motivating students.

    Students found out the former director was leaving on Monday night. Last night, in order to keep things moving, I went on with a planned rehearsal. I only had about half of the kids there, some had let us know they would be gone, some just didn’t show with rumors they had quit. That attitude issue is the only part of this (oddly enough) that has me stressed. These are all children that I have taught since they were beginners. I’m not unfamiliar or new to teaching. But I think they know that I will require a lot of them, which is NOT what they have had in the past and they don’t want to work hard for it.

    So I appreciate you lending a visual ear; please respond with anything you can suggest. If you prefer your response to not appear online, feel free to email me with anything you can provide.



    First of all, I’m sorry for your stress and for being stretched so thin. I often feel the same way, and try to remind myself that it is better to do less things better than to try to do everything and have the result be mediocre. If that means cutting down your number of performances, tackling less music for each, or limiting each group in some way in order to stay sane, don’t feel bad about it. Being stretched across all programs was not your choice but a budget issue – do the best you can with the situation to keep as many kids as possible involved in music, but also set reasonable expectations for yourself and your program in this new role.

    In regards to the marching band, the first thing I would do would be to try to identify some student leaders and see if there is any funding (or a grant from the boosters or PTA, or scholarships?) to send a few of them to drum major or band leadership camp over the summer. United Spirit Association has put on great camps across the country for a long time (I attended one as a high school student) and will give them a great foundation to lead as students, run drills, and teach marching basics. That puts more of the work in the hands of your students, allows them to rise to a leadership position, and takes some of the work off your plate. I would also rely on marching music and drill that is packaged and ready to go the first year – don’t try to write your own right off the bat, you will have enough to be working on the first year! Get a summer marching rehearsal/camp schedule out ASAP….and then go step-by-step from there.

    Good luck, and keep us updated!

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