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

Episode 77: How and Why You Should Start a Tri-M Chapter

Like me you probably think you don’t have time to run a Tri-M chapter. I’m here to tell you you don’t not have time! A 2-hour investment per month can yield hundreds of hours of influence. It’s simple and not expensive.

Go to the Nafme website to find out how to start a chapter in three easy steps. They have a ton of resources for you:

Tri-M Music Honor Society

Episode 76: What to do (and eat) the night of a concert

In my younger days, I didn’t have a plan for preparing myself for a concert (besides the music). It ultimately led to a few – shall we say – uneasy rumblings while on stage. I have developed a routine that works for me to prepare me physically, mentally and emotionally for each concert.

Episode 75: Student Led Rehearsal

What is a teacher to do when he has to be gone and the sub knows nothing about music! Have the students lead the rehearsal…after all, they probably know more than the sub.

A student led rehearsal is different than having a student conduct. Nobody conducts in a student led rehearsal. The students collaborate.

I stole this idea from Dr. Menghini of Vandercook College of Music, who presented a session using his own students. I have used it with much success almost every time I have a sub.

Episode 74 – Teaching Guitar Effectively: Interview with Bill Swick

Join me as I interview Bill Swick – master guitar teacher. We dig into several strategies for how to effectively teach guitar, especially if you are a band teacher.

When I started at my current school 12 years ago, I had no experience as a guitar teacher. I must confess that in the back of my mind I planned on getting rid of the guitar class as soon as I could. How dumb I was! Guitar draws in a whole different group of students who may not be drawn in by band, orchestra or choir. It doesn’t take away from the other classes…it adds to it.

Out of 18,000 teachers in Clark County, Nevada, Bill was selected as the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year. He has developed a year-long lesson plan that follows and covers his state’s curriculum. Find out the biggest mistake guitar teachers make. Pick up several strategies for how to teach guitar more effectively, including some discussion of Prodigy software for assessment.

You can sign up for Bill’s free newsletter, which includes free resources, by sending him an email with “Free Newsletter” in the subject. Send that request to: billswick at msn.com. Find out more about Bill and order his materials at www.billswick.com.

Also see Episode 33: You CAN teach guitar and orchestra

Episode 72: Incorporate Writing & Math WITHOUT Giving Up Band Time

In this episode, I share a quick strategy that will give you up-loadable evidence to show that you are incorporating writing and math into your curriculum. The best thing about it is that it is probably something you are already doing!

Episode 71 – How To Practice, with Professor Jimmy

Professor Jimmy, James Divine’s twin music teacher brother, gives you tips on how to use your practice time wisely.

Professor Jimmy is much more fun to watch rather than listen to. Watch him here.

 

 

Episode 70: Interview with Greg Martin, author of “Marching Band Techniques”

Order the book on amazon

This book can be used as an accompanying text for the collegiate marching band techniques course and to help build a successful marching band program at a high school. Topics include everything from developing a program handbook to student leadership and adult staffing, budgets, rehearsal techniques, sample forms, and basic information regarding the development process of a marching band show, as well as basic drill design techniques. It also addresses typical mistakes made by young teachers and offers suggestions on how to avoid/handle those mistakes. Finally, workbook-style activities at the end of each chapter help support and reinforce the material presented.

Episode 69: What To Do The Last Two Weeks Of School

You just had your final concert but there are still two weeks left at school. What do you do now? Don’t make the mistake I made early in my career and have no plan. Now is the time to try a few different things while still holding the students to high expectations. Listen to find out more.

Episode 68: Successful Differentiation In The Music Classroom

Many of us have learned to differentiate for special needs students, but did you know gifted students also need differentiation? In this episode, experienced music educator and music supervisor shares a few strategies for differentiation.

Does this whet your appetite for more? Earn college credit and learn more this summer when Samantha teaches a 4-day seminar of the same title. Find out more and register HERE for the course at Colorado College.

Episode 67: 5 Tips For More Efficient Rehearsals

Have you ever felt like you stunk as a teacher? I have 18 years experience and recently I felt this way. One of my colleagues came for a visit. He gave me some tips afterwards and pointed out some things that I should know better about! I was embarrassed (but glad he pointed these things out).


I took a good look in the mirror and immediately implemented some changes. Rehearsals have been more efficient and productive. These were things I knew – I had even implemented them and taught others to – but I had let things slide gradually.

Hope this reminder helps you as much as it has me. 

Episode 66: The Joy of Teaching in a Rural School 2; interview with Karen Gregg

Where can three degrees in bassoon performance take you? Sometimes to exciting and unexpected places like teaching music in a rural public school. Join me as I have a conversation with Karen Gregg about the joy of teaching in a rural school, where Karen has a ton of community involvement, more flexibility, gets to know her students and has 40-45% of students in band.

Also check out Episode 41: The Joy of Teaching in a Rural School; interview with Kevin Beaber.

Episode 65: How To Properly Use Festival Warm Up Time

When I was a young director, I thought the thirty minutes they gave us to warm up was too long. I just didn’t know what to do. Now I fill those thirty minutes quickly and wish I had more. I share my warm up process for festival and for most days in band.

Link to the Breathing Gym Materials

Link to Function Chorales by Stephen Melillo

Episode 63: 11 Ways To Lose A Band Student (and 11 Ways To Keep Them)

It’s the little things that make the difference. In this podcast I share 11 things we sometimes do (or fail to do) that cause us to lose a student.


We often get the music right, but fail at the relationship. Incorporate these ideas and you will find yourself keeping more of your students. 

Episode 62: What To Do If You Don’t Have A Bass Player For Jazz Band

A Bass Player and Percussionist are absolutely essential to making a jazz band or combo sound good. You can make almost any combination of instruments work. There are good percussionists almost everywhere, but what do you do if you don’t have a bass player?


In this podcast I share several strategies for obtaining a decent bass player.