Episode 124 – Should Practice Outside Of School Be Required

Episode 124 – Should Practice Outside of School be Required

We all wish that each and every one of our students practiced two hours a day every day, but is this possible or even realistic? It depends.

In my 21 years of teaching I’ve tried it all. Surprisingly I have found success by trying something different. Perhaps it will work for you.

Episode 123 – Six Responses When Students Say “I Want To Switch To Drums”

Episode 123 – Six Responses When Students Say “I Want To Switch To Drums”

I’ve been teaching for 21 years, but I still HATE it when a student asks me if he can switch to drums. Why doesn’t anyone want to switch to tuba? Can we control the number of drummers in our bands (yes, we can)? Can we shape the culture of our band to minimize this (yes, we can)? Will some students quit over this (yes, some will, but not as many as you think)? Six tips to minimize students wanting to switch.

Find a download of the 40 basic rudiments at The Percussive Arts Society page, www.pas.org.

Episode 122 – How To Properly Use Festival Warm-up Time

Episode 122 – How To Properly Use Festival Warm-up Time

Believe it or not, in my early days of teaching I did not know how to use this time properly. I actually ran out of things to do!

Now I know better.

This is a repost from an episode several years ago in which I share tips on how to use your warm-up time, what to do, what NOT to do, and even preparing yourself mentally.

And remember, performing at a festival is all about getting FEEDBACK. Don’t be overly concerned about your score (be a little concerned, but that’s not your main focus).

Episode 121 – Prepare To Be Judged

Episode 121 – Prepare To Be Judged

In this episode, I bring back Lori Schwartz Reichl from last week. With contest season coming up, we discuss the how to prepare your band to be adjudicated. What are the goals with adjudication? How can directors prepare themselves in the weeks, days and hours beforehand? How can we prepare our students for the experience?

As a music educator, Lori is an active adjudicator, clinician, guest conductor, private instructor, speaker, and writer. She is the author of the series “Key Changes: Refreshing Your Music Program” published monthly in the teacher edition of In Tune Magazine where she provides resources to enhance the music classroom/rehearsal space. She is also a journalist for Teaching Music Magazine.  Visit her at www.makingkeychanges.com

Episode 120 – How To Get Admin On Your Side

Episode 120

In this episode, I interview Lori Schwartz Reichl on getting administrators on our side. We discuss what’s important to admin, the biggest challenge young and old directors face with admin, and some tips on how to handle the relationship if it becomes adversarial.

We also discuss the importance of the three Ps…
Preparedness
Positivity
Persistence

As a music educator, Lori is an active adjudicator, clinician, guest conductor, private instructor, speaker, and writer. She is the author of the series “Key Changes: Refreshing Your Music Program” published monthly in the teacher edition of In Tune Magazine where she provides resources to enhance the music classroom/rehearsal space. She is also a journalist for Teaching Music Magazine.  Visit her at www.makingkeychanges.com

James Divine’s Year In Review

EVERY year holds the excitement of new beginnings, unchartered waters and high expectations, and every year ends with beautiful memories we carry with us as well as experiences that may have hurt us (but that ultimately make us better). I am a BLESSED man. Enjoy this year in review.

I often start the year with some sort of physical activity, and 2018 was no exception. THE INCLINE! This depends upon the weather of course. It may not happen for 2019 as snow is swirling as I write. I sometimes forget to be thankful that God has blessed me with a healthy body. I’ll take on any young punk anytime, physically or mentally, but I don’t know if it would be fair mentally as I see you have come half-armed.

No matter what we do for a living, we can sometimes wonder “Does what I do matter?” YES! YES! If you are doing what God has called you to do, it matters. Teaching is a profession like that. It’s always great to visit with former students and see how God is using them. B.D. is one of the nicest, sweetest people I know. Great parenting? Probably. Someone who serves the Lord with all her heart? Definitely.

I was honored to be selected to present at Tri-M day at The Colorado Music Educator’s Association Conference in January. I brought my band. The topic was “The Student Led Rehearsal.” The clinic was well received by 500+ teen attendees.

Whenever the weather cooperated, my sweetie and I took the opportunity to enjoy God’s creation in this beautiful state we get to call home.

I got to share a hilarious story “growing Up Italian” at a local speaking event. Some told me I may have a future in stand-up comedy. I’ll remain seated while waiting to see if that will happen (but it was funny).

I performed more in 2018 than in the previous six years combined. It has been a blessing to get quite a bit of my free time back to be able to do this. I hope the performing will continue. Sadly I am not able to continue with Swing Factory due to other commitments.

Susan and I enjoyed discovering many hot springs across the state during a stressful time this past spring.

I was able to take a road trip and see the American Jazz Museum in KC for the first time. Definitely worth it and something I hope to do again.

Susan and I got to visit our grandkids over spring break. At the time of this picture we had three grandkids, but that number has doubled since then!

Michelle Mras interviewed me for her show, Conversations with Michelle.

I visited my favorite Aunt in Fairfax. Hoping to make many more trips out there in 2019.

I got to meet a niece of mine who I had never met. Susan and I spent a weekend in Naples, Florida visiting with her family.

And biking…

And having a few SMALL laughs along the way

Susan and I picked up a new hobby…SUP – Stand Up Paddle-boarding

I recorded a song for which Austin did the artwork. I don’t think it will sell much, but I needed to do this one for me (Kenny Rogers, it’s available if you’d like to record it).

For the second time in six months, we were able to return to Germany, this time mainly to see our newest grandchild, but we were still able to do some touring too.

Then on to the ASBDA conference in Va. Beach (and a tour of my old haunting grounds, the Army “School of Music”, or as we sometimes called it, The Pool of Mucus, and an opportunity to visit our parents there. By the way, they own a cruise business and would love to show you a great vacation at www.shiptrip.com.

Devil’s Tower Monument

A visit from our German family!

A new school – teaching orchestra, 10% more pay, 30% reduced hours (the hours teaching marching band were killing me)

Another visit with the grandkids!

Headlining at a historic theater.

More hiking!

A train ride we have been dreaming about for 20 years!


Camping with my favorite youngest son

And Christmas surrounded by family. They are the BEST gift, besides the greatest gift of Jesus Christ.

I am one blessed man. There were some trials in 2018, but I choose to focus on the many things that made 2018 beautiful Keep your eyes on…

Episode 117 – Can I Go To The Bathroom – How To Respond

This is THE question I hate the most as a teacher. I’m very strict with it and my policy is “No/Never.” I also want to answer like my 5th grade teacher did…”Yes you can, but you may not.” Oh how I hated that. Here are some strategies for dealing with this age old question.

Episode 116 – When A Life Is Lost

When tragedy strikes the band room, either through accident, natural causes or suicide, how do you handle the grief? Is it ok to cry in front of students? What about counseling? A few years ago we had several tragic events in a row at my school. Here are some ideas for dealing with it and processing it. And please get help!

Advice From Your Italian Grandfather

Becoming a grandfather is hard work. It took me over 45 years to achieve that. In this clip, I give you advice from your Italian Grandfather. What if everyone followed this advice about life? Find out why pasta has no calories, what type of pill one should take daily, and even SEX.

Episode 114 – Parents Are 45 Minutes Late. What Do I Do?

Don’t you hate when parents are late picking up their kids? You are ready to leave and go home yourself, maybe to your own family, but you are stuck waiting. Be careful not to react in anger because sometimes the lateness is legit. Follow these tips.

Episode 113 – When Students Are Dating

What should you do when students are dating each other? Ignore it (not completely)? Freak out (no)? Try these band director tested tips and remember that I married my high school sweetheart who happened to be in the guard in our marching band! We’ve been married almost 32 years, raised 4 kids and now have six grandkids.

Episode 112 – HELP! I’m a Band Teacher Teaching Orchestra.

In Colorado, music teachers are certified as K-12 music. But just because we are certified, does not mean we feel qualified.

This year, I transferred to a Title I school and moved from teaching high school band to middle school orchestra. I learned a lot of things the hard way. If you find yourself in the same position, listen to this podcast for some tips on what to do about tuning, when to introduce bowing, how about assessment and many other topics.

Geared for the non-strings player who finds himself teaching strings!

You can do it!

Episode 110 – Getting More Parental Participation

We all wish we had more parents participating in our program. In this podcast, we talk about some tips and ideas to do that. A pitfall regarding email. When it’s ok to let the ball drop. How the process might look different in a suburban versus Title I school.

Example Pledge and Parent Involvement

Episode 109 – Interview with Frank Tracz of Kansas State

In July, I had the chance to meet Dr. Tracz when he presented at The Colorado Bandmasters Association Conference. We carved out a couple of minutes to talk about some tips and challenges for todays band director.

Dr. Tracz talked about burnout in one of his sessions. Although we don’t cover it on the podcast, here is a link to a Burnout Self Test. I took it and was very surprised to find I was burned out this past spring.

You can find many resources by Dr. Tracz on the Kansas State University website, http://www.k-state.edu/band/downloads/index.html

Join me on this informative podcast.

Episode 108 – When To Play (and other tips) for Football Games

When I first started teaching at the high school level, I was totally lost when the pep band played at our football game! Perhaps you feel lost too?

Listen to the podcast to learn some tips and tools of the trade. When to play. When NOT to play. What to play. Who to talk to before the game…and more.

Are you burned out? Take this test to find out.

In 1998, I started my first teaching job with passion, dedication, love and joy. I gave my all to my students, but I neglected myself and – I’m ashamed to say – at times my family. I became extremely burned out. When I left that school for another in 2005, I promised myself I would never let that happen again! I set boundaries, I took better care of my health, I left for home at the end of the school day.

As my own kids grew, I found myself starting a marching band and devoting more and more time to my work. I didn’t mind. My responsibilities at home had changed, I had more time, and I saw what a difference marching band was making in my students’ lives. I had overcome the possibility of burnout!

WRONG!!!

I succumbed again. It wasn’t quite as bad as the first time, but this time I didn’t recognize the signs until I heard a presentation by Dr. Frank Tracz of Kansas State. He shared the burnout link with us that you will find below.

I left my position for a new one teaching middle school with no marching band. Sometimes – not always – one must leave a position to regain balance. That’s a whole blog post of it’s own.

Are you burned out? Take this Burnout Self Test from the good people at Mind Tools to find out. If the results come out positive, make the changes necessary to prevent burnout. You’ll be glad you did.

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.