Episode 107 – A Rehearsal Method for Learning Marching Band “Sets”

This is a great technique for learning and polishing marching band sets. I stole it from my friend and colleague Keith Bisaillon. I’ve used it for several seasons.

This will be the last podcast of the season. Lord willing, I will see you back in August. In the meantime, perhaps you are looking to gig over the summer. You may be interested in my online course…

40 Ways To Make Money as a Musician

Episode 106 – Things I Never Thought I’d Say During Rehearsal

This episode is just for fun. Have you ever suffered from foot in mouth disease, when you either say something embarrassing or say something you never thought you would! That often happens to me. Sometimes I get my tirds wisted. Maybe I have a speed impechiment.

I Have the Best Job in the World

Guest post by band teacher Christian Sarazen…I know it will inspire you like it inspired me!

“I have the best job in the world,” Mr. Andrews said after a successful rehearsal at Ben Lippen School one afternoon. It was my senior year, and that was the moment I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. I told him, “Well, if you have the best job in the world, then I want it!”

I went on to get a degree and moved overseas to start a band program at an international school. But my first year teaching would be Mr. Andrew’s last. Midway through the year he was diagnosed with brain cancer and given months to live. His final concert was an emotional one, as anyone can imagine.

I was too far away to be there, but I wrote a song for my band and performed it in his honor that same Spring.

The band program at Ben Lippen did not continue after Mr. Andrews passed, (about 7 years ago now) and the band room has been the “Large Group Instructional” room since then. Until this year.

Last fall, I was hired by Ben Lippen to re-start the program and we just had our first spring Concert tonight. The highlight was our performance of that same song I composed in his honor my first year teaching.

So Mr. Andrews, here I am. I’m trying to fill your shoes. Thanks for giving me my first trombone lesson, for noticing me, valuing me, encouraging me to stick with it, inviting me hang out in your office with the cool kids, and letting me bring my cassette player in to record our songs all the time 🙂

Most days band directing is banging my head on the floor. But not every day. Tonight was a night that made me feel like I have the “best job in the world”. I have your job now, but I’ll ever be working my way toward being a director like you. Thank you for everything.

My Earliest Memories

Here’s a post about some of my earliest memories. Don’t forget to register for the Forgive & Live Workshop here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2027225010884730/

Earliest Memories

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

-Sigmund Freud

This is a picture of my grandfather, my mom’s father. He passed away before I had a chance to meet him. My mom speaks very highly of him.

Most children don’t remember much from their earliest years. My oldest son Josh surprised me once by telling me something he remembers when he was under three years old. I had been gone for three months for Army training. When I returned, we all went out to Taco Bell to celebrate. He remembers that.

Most of my early memories are good. I played outside a lot. I peed on the trees in our backyard despite my mom’s insistence not to. Hey, little boys play, and they don’t think about peeing until they have to go REALLY bad, and the trees were so convenient. At least I didn’t pee in the heating vent like at least one of my sons did!

I remember watching Bob Barker on The Price is Right (and then watching him three decades later…it hasn’t seemed right since he retired). I had a best friend next door named Manny. I got my first bike.

There was a neighborhood convenience store that my friends and I walked to often. The proprietor was a very friendly man. If we sang a song for him, he would give us each a piece of small, football-shaped chocolate. It seems like such a small thing, but he is one of the many people in my life who was a positive influence, just by his kindness and character.

I remember being fearful of my father. I sometimes witnessed the abuse he delivered to my mom, and I was afraid of him. As far as I remember, he never laid a hand on me. I can only remember two interactions with him. I asked him how the turn signal turned off in the car. He had my sister and I convinced that he was magic. On another occasion, we went fishing with my older brother. It was cold and my feet hurt terribly, but I was too afraid to tell my father. I tried fishing later in life but just never grew to love it like many men I know. I know there must have been other interactions, but these are the only two I remember.

My mom tells the story of when my father sat me on his lap and asked me if I loved him, and I answered “No, because you hurt Mommy.” My father said that Santa Claus wouldn’t bring me anything and I answered that I was fine with that. Then he sat my sister on his lap and asked the same thing. She answered the same as me until he told her Santa wouldn’t bring her anything, and then sis said, “I love you, Daddy.”

I always thought she should have been an actress.

excerpt from “Forgive: One man’s story of being molested.” Available on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Forgive-story-being-mo…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

The Day I Stole my Mom’s Identity

Two years ago, my mom suffered a debilitating stroke. I was the one tasked with handling her affairs. I sold her condo, packed away many of her things and found a place where she would live after her rehab. It was a daunting and exhausting task!

Little tasks that should have been simple and easy to handle became complex because of how afraid people are. For example, I called to cancel my mom’s cable tv subscription. Here is how the conversation went…

CC=Cable company . ME=me, good-looking Italian boy

(20 minutes on hold)
(finally!)
CC: Hi, Always Broken cable company…how may I help?

ME: Hi, this is James Divine. I’m handling my mom’s affairs. She recently had a stroke, has moved out of her condo, and now I need to cancel her cable service.

CC: Can you please give me her name, last 20 addresses, as well as the date when she has sacrificed each of her children?

ME: Sure, here it is
(3,200 account numbers and birthdates later)

CC: I’m sorry, we will need to speak directly to her. You are not authorized on her account to make changes.

ME: I realize that, but she almost died and is in rehab. She’s not well enough to talk.
(at this point I’m starting to get frustrated….there are 100 more urgent things I need to get done for my mom)

CC: I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.

ME: Can I speak to your manager please?

CC: I’m sorry, we don’t have a manager. I’m located remotely on an ice cap near the south pole, in exile and forced to work a job I hate, but it pays the bills.

ME: Surely you have faced this situation before and have a procedure to deal with it.

CC: I’m sorry, I’m not able to help you with your request. Would you like to be transferred to our north pole office?

ME: No thanks. I’d rather eat a plate of raw maggots then listen to more on hold music.

CC: Would you like me to transfer you to our maggot department?

ME: I thought that’s who I was talking to.

I hung up the phone. I was really frustrated. Since I was also handling her bills, I thought “Maybe I just won’t pay the bill” but I knew in the long term that would end up hurting my mom. I decided to try a different approach…

(20 minutes on hold)
(finally!)
CC: Hi, Always Broken cable company…how may I help?

ME: Hi, I’d like to cancel my cable service.

CC: Can you please give me your name, last 20 addresses, as well as the date when you sacrificed each of your children?

ME: Sure, my name is Rita C. and the account info you need is 1846dhfdku467253745be759403934565h3nyru5u5rhfyuj4m4neuemtn5ueiuwju666

CC: Is this really Rita C?

ME: Yes.

CC: Sorry you will be leaving us. Thank you. I have closed your account.

I didn’t disguise my voice or anything! It was so easy that it was a little scary. I think the reason it worked is that I had the secret number…  1846dhfdku467253745be759403934565h3nyru5u5rhfyuj4m4neuemtn5ueiuwju666

I don’t recommend stealing your mom’s identity, but drastic circumstance call for drastic measures. As soon as I post this article, I will be moving. I expect the FBI to knock down my door at any moment.

***James is a teacher, musician, speaker and author in Colorado Springs. He wrote the book A Stroke of Bad Luck: A Survival Guide for When Someone You Know has a Stroke. Purchase it immediately on amazon: