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.

Episode 103 – Incorporating Special Needs Students in Band

I’m not talking about adapting so much in this episode. Most of us can use our creativity and figure out something to make it work. This is mostly about how to incorporate students with severe needs who may never be able to learn an instrument.

Episode 101 – Posting Audition Results

Do you ever just want to RUN AWAY after posting audition results? Hope these tips help to make it less uncomfortable. Try posting this and sending an email to parents…

STUDENTS STOP! Before you discover your placement, remember:

1. We care about you.

2. Sometimes, the lessons we don’t want to hear are the ones we must learn. They prepare us for life.

3. Life is hard. I’m sorry, but it is at times.

4. Reactions should be professional. Celebrate or mourn away from the band hall.

5. Do not tell anyone their placement. Do not take pictures and send them. Everyone deserves the chance to discover the results just as you do.

6. Both the number of auditioning students and the quality of the players within the program have been increasing. This is making it increasingly more competitive to get into the wind ensemble.

7. If you did your best, that is all you can do. You can only control your level of effort.

8. If you have questions, you can come talk to us in a composed manner. No emails will be addressed unless you have spoken with us personally. We will be honest with you because…

9. We care about you.

PARENTS – I would ask for the following considerations upon learning your child’s’ placement. Having a discussion with your child BEFORE results are posted often helps what can be a valuable learning experience.

1. We are all here for the betterment of your students. We care about them deeply.

2. We are hired to give them the best musical advice and experience we can possibly give. We must assess them as best we can.

3. Many are working hard and taking private lessons.

4. Emotions can cloud judgment.

5. Students’ careers in music are always in a state of flux. We must take a snapshot through auditions to capture their progress in that moment. We are considering many factors in addition to the audition including our prior experience with them in rehearsals. Seniority in the program is not a factor in our decision. We are selecting the best 9th through 11th grade musicians to fill out the Wind Ensemble for 2018/19.

6. More students will NOT be accepted than will be accepted. For that, it is important to have the conversation with students regarding the best reaction to news that may not be the news you wanted.

Parents, we would ask that you allow students to advocate for themselves with face-to-face contact with us should there be any questions. If after that direct communication, parents would like further information please feel free to contact us.

Episode 99 – Jazz Band Warm-ups

 

If your jazz band is like mine, it’s filled with some of the most creative and ENERGETIC students in the school. They never get in serious trouble, but if I don’t keep them occupied and doing something, they can tend to get in a little bit of “teen goofy” trouble. I like to start class with one of these warm-ups to get them focused right away.

Episode 98 – Are Practice Sheets Worthwhile

 

I started my career utilizing practice sheets, but dropped them shortly after arriving at my current position. Are they useful? Are they a waste of time? In this podcast, I share some thoughts from fellow band directors on both sides of the debate. Ultimately you have to decide what’s best for your program.

Episode 97 – Thoughts on Marching Band Philosophy

 

We all know directors who have burned out teaching marching band. Some flee from the thought of ever teaching it again. However, I think with a few changes in our philosophy, we can have successful marching bands that don’t destroy our life. I share a few of those thoughts in this podcast.

Episode 96 – 5 Tips for Dealing with Bullying Colleagues

It’s bad enough when we are bullied by a boss or superior, but what do we do if a fellow teacher is bullying us? This is a difficult situation to deal with, especially if you are a young teacher and the one doing the bullying is more experienced. Here are 5 tips to help you deal with the situation. Also check out Henry Cloud’s book Boundaries

Episode 94 – 8 Tips to Consider on Overnight Trips

 

Trips can be fun and educational. The secret is to over plan and plan early. Follow these 8 tips to make your overnight band trip more successful and reduce the risk of something going wrong.

trip behavior agreement

Parent Educational Leader Guide

Link to Travel 101 by Andrew Yaracs

 

 

 

Episode 92 – Dealing With “I Quit”

I’m not talking about you the teacher, but the student. I personally want to quit at least once a month, despite having spent 20 years in this wonderful field. If we have this desire (and get over it), don’t you think the same can apply to students? You do have to learn to develop a hard shell. Here are some strategies that will make it easier – but to be honest – the pain never completely goes away.

Episode 91 – Getting Non-Performing Groups to Sit Quietly

In my early years of teaching, it was chaos with my students who were waiting their turn to perform. I knew something had to change, so I developed a strategy that has been effective for 10 years. No strategies are foolproof, but this has worked for EVERY student I have had, except for three stubborn knuckleheads who I get to use as an example from seven years ago. Make your concerts into even happier events.

Episode 86: 7 Things Your Middle School Director Wants You To Know

Many times, High School band directors are quick to put the blame on their middle school. Often they have not even met their middle school director.

I am fortunate to work with an outstanding director who is also my assistant director for the high school marching band. We collaborate often.

I started my career as the 4th-12th grade band director at a small private school. I was my own feeder! These 7 things your middle school director wants you to know were gleaned from multiple informal interviews and personal experience.

Episode 85: How To Organize Your Music Library

When I started at my current position in 2005, I inherited a stack of music three feet tall that was mostly SINGLE sheets of music that had not been filed. The school was first opened in the 1970s. It seemed like nobody had organized the library ever!

It took me the entire school year, but I was finally able to get that all organized and now have a system in place that is easy to maintain.

Episode 84: 5 Performing Groups in 62 Minutes

Have you ever wondered how to get a bunch of groups to perform in a short amount of time? I remember when my two oldest kids were in high school. The concerts were great, but they seemed to drag on as the stage crew set each chair exactly in place between each group. I didn’t care about the chairs!

Incorporating some advice from friend and fellow band teacher Wayne Hoey, this past May my spring concert included 5 performing groups and we finished in 62 minutes! Parents told me that was their favorite concert ever.

But you need a plan. This was mine…

Concert Plan May 11

Episode 82: Create a Yearly Task List

I learned a long time ago that there’s no way my brain can remember everything I need to do. I created what I call a “Yearly Task List” to help me remember what I need to get done and WHEN I need to get it done. This list gets revised each year as I add or take away responsibilities (or realize that I am missing something).

I print it out at the start of the year and actually go through the list, adding the items to my calendar. If you would like to see a copy of my list, here it is: Beginning of Year Task List

Episode 81: Make Your Marching Band Rehearsal More Efficient

Did you know many of our top marching bands in the country are under what’s called the 8 hour rule. They are only allowed to spend 8 hours a week practicing their marching band show. How do they do it? With efficiency!

In this episode I interview marching band judge and clinician Andy Brady. Find out more about him at www.andybrady.net. 

Episode 80: Getting Sax Players To Play With Good Tone

As a professional sax player myself, I am sometimes deeply disturbed by what I hear coming from the sax section, even in my own band! But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this episode I share 8 tips that will help your students to have a better sax sound.

Episode 79: 14 Tips on How To Get Better At Fixing The Music

The main thing we do…fixing the music! How do we get better at that?

In this episode, I share 14 tips that I have learned over the years, including an acronym from the Army Band (DIAC) and what NOT to use as a rehearsal technique, a technique used frequently by one of my band commanders.

Also listen to Episode 40 to find out more about the function chorales mentioned in this podcast.

Episode 78: Answers to Listener’s Questions

I take a slight turn in this podcast and answer a few listener questions. I hope to do more of these. If you would like to submit a question, please go to the contact page at www.jamesdivine.net and send your question.

  1. Joel writes…I’ve been teaching awhile with the program growing stagnant. Do I need to move on? If not, how do I pull it out of the rut? Or can a program only become “so good.”
  2. An anonymous listener writes…What do you do if there is a school culture of AP classes and no time for band?

Submit your question