James Divine – Youth Success Speaker

Poverty
Abusive Father
Homelessness
Sexual Abuse

I’ve lived through all of these. I had to overcome them as I realized that I could have a better future than what my life had dictated. I love sharing my story of experiencing all these things, but more importantly, sharing the steps I took to overcome and leave these events in the past where they belong.

In the past 20+ years, I’ve shared this message with tens of thousands of people to help them change their mindset, overcome their past, and move to their best future. You can count on me to be humorous, interactive, and an engaging speaker, full of insights and stories, and music, and humor, and different characters even.

I have been teaching middle and high school students for more than 20 years. I know their struggles. Their pains. Their insecurities. I was exactly like them. I suffered from “I Can’t” syndrome, but finally found the process to break free. I wish it was just a little magic pill, but it’s not. It’s a process. I’ve helped hundreds on their own journey.

Now I’m a veteran, husband, dad, teacher, musician, author, and grandad! Contact me today and let’s discuss your needs.

Are You a Man or a Boy?

When I turned 18 – way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and brontosaurus burgers were just 25 cents – aka 1984 – I proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen – and most didn’t – “I’m a man now.” (By the way, that sentence is a homage to my 12th grade English teacher, who hated run on sentences, and who often encouraged us to split those sentences into smaller – what he claimed was easier to read – sentences that didn’t ramble or anything…I guess I didn’t learn much…but then again, my counselor said I would never have a successful career in music, and here I am 37 years later! If I retire from this field, maybe I have a chance to be an English teacher).

Turning a certain age does NOT make you a man! It is often hard to pinpoint exactly when a boy becomes a man. I think it is actually a process. Just like I am becoming a better saxophone player each day, a better Christian each day, a better husband/dad/grandad each day, I am becoming a better man each day. And if I’m not, then I’m becoming more boy-like. There’s nothing wrong with being boy-like when it is intentional and for fun, but not when it means we shirk our responsibilities. I know of a lady who lives with three “boys”, and they are all over 21.

Here are some ways to tell whether you are a man or a boy…

Boys Play House…Men Build Homes

Boys Shack Up…Men Get Married

Boys Make Babies…Men Raise Children

Boys Invent Excuses…Men Put In The Hard Work

Boys Want a Hand Out…Men Offer a Hand Up

Boys Want Popularity…Men Earn Respect

Boys Quit…Men Commit

***James is STILL in the process of becoming the man of God that he is meant to be. It takes courage, faithfulness, and being disciplined in seeking the Lord. Check out James’ books or invite him to speak at your event, www.jamesdivine.net

5 Ways To Teach Kids About Gender

By Summer Stevens

Reprinted with permission from GES. Link to the article online HERE.

From Tolerance to Forced Approval

There is an intentional attempt to indoctrinate your children to the LGBTQ lifestyle, and your church is likely doing nothing about it.

This indoctrination is evident in obvious ways, such as in the mandatory teaching of LGBTQ history in many states across the country and a push for LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. Last year England made LGBTQ-inclusive sex education mandatory in public schools. A Psychology Today article reported that 81% of elementary and 88% of secondary teachers approved of LGBTQ-inclusive education, and 45% of kindergarten teachers felt comfortable addressing the topic with students.

The indoctrination shows up subtly, too, in the quick embrace of a same-sex couple in a TV commercial, on rainbow-colored kids’ cereal boxes during Pride month, and in the quiet introduction of gay characters in almost every Netflix series or Disney movie. Mere tolerance is not acceptable any longer. People must embrace and celebrate LGBTQ practices or be threatened with labels such as homophobe or bigot and risk losing friends and jobs. And in fact, many people are embracing it. In 2001, 53% of Americans thought homosexuality was wrong; by 2021, that number had dropped to 32%.

“Young people today are more accepting of LGBTQ people than ever before. And as acceptance has grown in this country, so too has the number of young people who describe themselves as LGBTQ,” said the 2017 GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance study. That is a fascinating quote by GLAAD. The church should pay attention to it because cultural acceptance equals higher numbers of people embracing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles. Homosexuals used to comprise a relatively small percentage of Americans, but this number is rising fast. A Gallup Poll revealed that in 2012, 3.5% of the population identified as LGBT; that number climbed to 5.6% in 2020, and the youth of America are leading the charge with LGBTQ identification by almost 10% of teens aged 13-17 and a whopping 20% of millennials according to a GLAAD study.

Mental Health

Let’s put Biblical morality aside for a moment and focus just on the mental health of LGBTQ youth. Every other year the CDC conducts a large Youth Risk Behavior Study that monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among young people. In 2015, the study began collecting data for those students who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Several surprising facts began to emerge—namely, the drastic mental health concerns for LGB youth specifically. For the 2019 data, those in this group had experienced daily sadness or hopelessness for two straight weeks or more (66.3%), seriously considered suicide (46.8%), attempted suicide (23.4%), and had been forced to have sex against their will (19.4%) at much higher rates than their peers who identified as heterosexual (32.2, 14.5, 6.4, and 5.5%, respectively).

Transgender teens are almost six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

For a lifestyle that is so prone to hopelessness and suicide, it is a wonder that our culture continues to recommend it to our youth.

Watching the Storm

Sadly, the church has sat back and watched the storm, out of touch with the real struggles youth face, and has done little to affirm God-given gender identity in children. Elementary and middle school children are asking these questions and making sexual identity determinations.

A high school youth group series on waiting for marriage is too little, too late. Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy children with precision and calculation (John 10:10). How much more should the church seek to preserve, protect, and guard children against the lies and devastation barreling through our world in the realm of sexual identity.

Christians are not exempt from these statistics. At one of my previous churches, about half of the youth group struggled with sexual identity. Many of these were kids who had grown up in the church. The answer, then, is to start early in affirming biological gender and sexual identity. Because, as the statistics clearly reveal, teens are embracing homosexuality at drastically higher rates than ever before. Sexual preferences are being offered like a smorgasbord, with very young children encouraged to sample whatever looks appealing. Naturally, more and more children are trying out homosexuality and transgenderism with devastating results like depression, anxiety, and suicide. We are told that this is because of a lack of acceptance for these youth, and the answer is simply to celebrate the lifestyle even more, but God’s Word reveals that when we break from God’s design and pursue our own will, we will experience heartache and grief (Rom 1:28-32; 8:6).

The church must lead the charge. We cannot look to another organization. Each week the church has a unique opportunity to teach God’s truth to children and equip youth with firm confidence in their sexuality and gender identity. If you have any influence in your church as a pastor, pastor’s wife, elder, children’s volunteer, or even a parent or grandparent who is willing to schedule a meeting with the leaders, I cannot urge you strongly enough to seriously consider this issue and come up with a plan. Please prayerfully consider what you can do in your home or your church to prepare children to live confident, honorable lives for God.

Action Items

Here are five ideas to get you started.

1 Incorporate sexual identity-affirming statements into Sunday school classes on a regular basis. If you have teachers or administrators who attend your church, enlist them to help create short, age-appropriate lessons beginning with toddlers. That may sound very young, but if your children are watching Disney, then you need to begin these conversations.

These can be very simple for preschool children, like, “Raise your hand if you’re a boy. Who made you a boy? Yes, God! Does God ever make mistakes? No! God meant for you to be a boy, and it’s good to be a boy! If you are a boy, can you ever not be a boy? Nope. You will always, forever, 100% be a boy because that’s how God made you. God made you a boy because the world needs brave, kind boys like you!” And repeat a similar statement for girls.

Elementary students can understand Biblical teaching on God’s creation of Adam and Eve and His design for marriage between men and women, and questions like, “So did God design men to marry other men? Or women to marry other women? No, He didn’t. God calls that sin.”

Many public elementary school teachers read picture books about homosexual families to indoctrinate students to the LGBTQ agenda; the church must indoctrinate students to God’s plan.

2 Affirm the authority of Scripture to young people. I’ve been surprised in recent years how adult Christians whom I considered mature could willfully embrace a lifestyle of sexual sin. I’ve concluded that these are Christians with a low view of Scripture.

As Free Grace proponents, we hold that someone can live a homosexual lifestyle and still be a Christian because our salvation does not depend on our sin; it depends on our belief in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. Homosexuality is not a special sin, though Paul does say sexual sin in general is of the category that is “against their own body” (1 Cor 6:18), and therefore more central to our identity and can be more damaging to ourselves than other types of sin. If a homosexual has believed in Jesus for eternal life, his salvation is secure, just like it is for anyone else.

However, a sinning Christian will miss out on fellowship with Jesus, experience earthly consequences of his or her sin, and suffer a loss of rewards.

This is where the authority of Scripture comes in. A very firm foundation in, and reverence for, God’s Word protects us from sin. Parents and church leaders must model obedience to the Scriptures and do everything possible to extol its value and relevance to speak into our lives. We must not only be hearers of the word but doers (Jas 1:22). Therefore, when youth come across passages of Scripture where God commands abstinence from sexual sin, they will respect and obey it, even if their feelings are confused for a time.

3 Address rebellion, pride, and arrogance in children through parenting classes. I believe there are two primary reasons children and teens veer toward homosexuality or transgenderism.

The first is trauma due to loss, abuse, or neglect, causing the child to fail to make appropriate and healthy connections with parents or peers. This child needs love, compassion, and counseling.

The second is a product of our smorgasbord culture that encourages children to sample sexual identities and choose what feels good at the time.

Today’s philosophy governing the education system is that the child’s unhindered self-expression is the purest and greatest path to self-realization and ultimate happiness. Parents must reject that philosophy and instead promote God’s standards as the path to joy and satisfaction. When Christian parents fail to set Biblical standards for their child in all areas of life, that child learns that her or she has no actual standards. This inevitably crosses over into the child’s sexual preference. “I can be attracted to anyone I want. It’s my choice. I set the rules.”

Parents must teach their children, “You cannot have what you want all the time. Some things are off-limits to you.” When children understand that they must stay within God’s standards, they
will better comprehend this principle as they get older and remain within their sexual parameters, including heterosexual preferences or celibacy. An indulged child is more likely to gravitate toward believing that she is the author of her own morality, rather than God.

4 Affirming Biblical gender and sexual identity is not the same as affirming stereotypes. Certainly, boys can like football and girls can like tea parties and that’s fine. Still, those are cultural expressions of masculinity or femininity that are unhelpful when teaching about sexual identity. God created some men to be bakers and poets and some women to be athletes and electricians. Boys can like pink and girls can like blue; however, do not celebrate a boy wearing nail polish or a girl wearing boy’s clothes. Celebrate the correct type of distinctions.

In our family, we take an annual boys’ camping trip with cousins and uncles. Though we sometimes camp as a family, the boys’ trip is special, and the only requirement is that you be a boy.

This fall, my girls will be old enough to take them out for a special girls’ weekend, and we are already planning our trip.

The church should plan activities and events that intentionally promote friendships and bonding within one’s God-given gender. The goal is not to steer youth toward stereotypes. The goal is to firmly root them with confidence and joy in their identity as a biological male or female whom God created. And if they choose to marry, teach them that God has created men for women, and women for men.

5 Create a positive environment for single people. Singles often feel like the third wheel at church gatherings, and “singles groups” tend to be focused on finding someone to marry. With an increasing number of young people identifying as LGBTQ and with the mental health struggles that accompany that, the church needs to offer genuine community for people who have chosen not to embrace the lifestyle. That situation can be very lonely and often shameful, but it shouldn’t be. The church should be the safest place for those struggling with homosexual thoughts and feelings—a place where they can find friendship, love, and people committed to helping them live a purposeful life that is pleasing to God.

It is honorable for a Christian man or woman with same-sex attraction to choose celibacy, but that shouldn’t mean a life of isolation from the Christian community.

Single heterosexual Christian adults must choose celibacy as well. The church must create an environment where being single for any reason and at any age is acceptable and not deemed socially inferior. The Apostle Paul considered singleness the preferable status (1 Cor 7:7-8), and the church should also affirm this. It is also essential for the teens in your church who may struggle with homosexuality or gender confusion to see a thriving church community where they can find friendship so they are less tempted to pursue a lifestyle of sexual sin motivated by loneliness.

_______________________
Summer Stevens is married to Nathanael and they have five children. She has a Master’s in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and enjoys running (but mostly talking) with friends and reading good books to her kids.

3 Time-Saving Tips for Teens – How To Be More Productive & Accomplish Your Goals

  1. Make Use of “Sponge Time

I’m not talking about Sponge Bob, but about time you already have but maybe don’t know you have. Just like a sponge easily absorbs extra water, if you really look, you will see “extra time” all around you. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. Many teens waste a lot of that time. Soak up the extra time around you.  When I was a senior in high school, I almost never took work home! I used some of these tips for teens to get ALL MY HOMEWORK done at school.

  • Use time riding in a car to study, write, text, email, or even practice an instrument like guitar (I wouldn’t try practicing a wind instrument in a vehicle).
  • When you arrive early to school, use that time to study rather than just “hanging out.” It’s ok to hang out, just be more deliberate with doing that.
  • If you get 40 minutes for lunch, you can eat lunch and socialize for 20 minutes and spend 20 minutes studying or practicing.
  • In most classes, you have a few minutes at the start and end of class. Use that time to get some homework done, make an outline or something.

2. Be more aware of time spent watching Television & Movies

TV is a big time waster.  Am I saying TV is completely bad? No, I watch some TV. It is just easy for TV to distract you from your goals. Record (or stream) and watch a few shows or movies, but beware of filling your days with mindless media consumption. Some stats say the average young person today spends 30 or more hours a week consuming media. That’s too much! How about ten hours or less? That would be better.

3. Don’t give in to the myth of multi-tasking

Studies have shown that when you switch from one task to another, it takes you 20 minutes or more to get back on task. Multi-tasking is a myth. Set aside time – maybe 45-60 minutes – to get work done. Turn off the TV, the phone, log out of Facebook/Tic Toc and spend that time wisely. Then, take a break and text, Facebook, etc. After your break, turn those apps off again.  Not only will you get more done, but when you are texting or talking, you will be more focused on the person you’re talking to, which will improve your relationships.

James Divine is a music teacher who has been a student of leadership, productivity and timesaving strategies since he was a teenager. With God’s help, he teaches full time, makes his family a priority, exercises, reads a book a week, performs, records and writes.  It’s not about how much time you have, but about how you use the time God has given you. Find out more about James at  www.jamesdivine.net. Also check out his course “Why Don’t They Teach That in School.”

What Would You Do If You Saw This Guy in Walgreens

It is SO easy to pre-judge people and make assumptions about them. I have had that happen to me dozens of times, and I know others have as well.

Once I was in Walgreens – the only one there – dressed like this – which is how I dress when I go out for a run on a winter morning. I heard a manager speak over the intercom and I immediately knew she was talking about me!

View more motivational videos at my Youtube Channel. I’d love to come and share stories with your group live and in person. Contact me HERE.

Episode 195: Patience, Perseverance, Positive Attitude, Tips from Dr. Ray Cramer

It is my pleasure to interview the fabulous Dr. Ray Cramer in this episode. Dr. Cramer has inspired so many of us and has devoted a lifetime to music service. He is 81 years old!

His best advice for young directors is to be patient, accept students where they are while helping them to get better, be creative, and use your time wisely. Believe it or not, he almost didn’t continue in band. “Dr. Zimmerman changed my life.”

Dr. Cramer also says that “Life isn’t always tied with a bow, but it is a gift.”

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

You Will Be Found Saxophone Cover

I absolutely love this song from the musical Dear Evan Hansen! It makes me cry when I hear it and when I play it. I hope you like this rendition of it.

Many of us go through life lost, lonely, confused, wondering what our purpose is. You DO have a purpose. You DO have meaning. There is Someone looking for you, and if you look for Him, You Will Be Found!

Listen to more of my music HERE. Find out more about me at www.jamesdivine.net.

Episode 194: 4 Tips To Prevent Your Saxes From Sounding Like Honking Geese

Do you have trouble getting a good sound from your saxes? In this episode I share 4 tips – and real life bad and good examples – to help your saxes sound much better with a more focused sound. Sometimes an adaptation in the amount of mouthpiece a student takes, or even the strength of a reed, can make a huge difference.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

How To Make An Easy – And Cheap – Cup of Coffee

Do you just absolutely have to have that delicious cup of Joe from one of your local chains? I need coffee to jump start my morning, but I don’t pay my local chain $5 for a cup when I can make my own for less than 25 cents. What could you do with that extra money? In just a year, you could save enough to go on a cruise. Yes, a cruise! Save $5/day x 365, that’s over $1500 in a year – more than enough for a Caribbean cruise. Speaking of cruises, once you save enough, head over to www.shiptrip.com and check out the offers my good friends there have available.

This is just one lesson from my Adulting 101 course. Get more below… Have you ever thought “Why don’t they teach THAT in school?” As a teacher of 23 years myself, I noticed that students had less and less of some of the basic skills they need for every day life. Thus Adulting 101 was born. Get the entire course at Udemy. It comes with a 30 day money back guarantee: https://www.udemy.com/course/adulting… Other mini-lessons include…

How To Write a Thank You Note (and how often) How To Make a Phone Call How to Apologize How to Accept an Apology How To Take a Phone Message How To Write a Check and Balance Your Account How to Decide Between Two Options How To Sew on a Button How to Iron How to Clean the Bathroom How to Vacuum How To Do Laundry How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher How To Boil Water How To Make Easy Peanut Butter Cookies How to Cook Bacon AND MORE! Get the full course at Udemy. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee. https://www.udemy.com/course/adulting101/

Episode 193: Engaging Students in the Rehearsal Process with Dr. Charlie Menghini

In this episode, I have the privilege of interviewing Dr. Menghini of VanderCook College of Music. We talk about engaging students in the rehearsal process.

Do we teach our students, train them, or tell them? There’s an important distinction. Do they know what to do? Do you ask them a lot of questions? Hint: You should. That’s what teaching is really all about. Let THEM do the work, the thinking, the problem solving.

Get in touch with Dr. Menghini at bandtalkcharlie@gmail.com. And subscribe to his podcast on iTunes.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

I Must Not Be Cut Out To Be A Farmer

Could you imagine someone tilling the soil, planting a seed, watering it carefully, going to bed, then coming out the next morning to see the results. When finding nothing, he declares “I must not be cut out to be a farmer.” Silly, right? Yet this is what many of us do in endeavors in our lives. Anything worth doing requires persistence and endurance. Just like a farmer plants a seed and then often has to keep working for 3, 4, 6 months to see the fruit, we have to do the same in our lives. www.jamesdivine.net ; Why Don’t They Teach That In School Course

Episdoe 192 – Where To Get Advice – Hint…it’s not on social media

where to get advice

I was transplanted into teaching from a performing career. I didn’t know anybody, but I quickly found my homies who could give me advice and encouragement when needed.

It’s important to find someone you can call – on the phone – or have coffee with. Social media friends don’t count. Oh, there are times when that can help, but there are times you just need to cry with someone.

The greatest mentor I ever had was Hosea Haynes. He was a member of the American School Band Director’s Association, an organization I’m proud to be a part of now.

If you don’t have some great people you can call, it just might be your own fault.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 191 – Are You Sure You Want To Teach THERE?

are you sure you want to teach there

For years I have listened to interviews where people grew up in an award winning program, decided to be a teacher, went back to the award winning program to do their student teaching, found out the director was retiring and wanted them to step into the award winning program, and it continues to be an award winning program.

That is wonderful! But it hasn’t been my story. I have had to basically build each program from scratch. Don’t be afraid of doing that yourself!

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 190 – Tricks and Tips for a Better Band

With 23 years of teaching and ten as a professional musician, I have learned a lot over the years – much of it the hard way.

Not every technique works for every band every single time, but in this episode I share dozens of quick tips that have worked for me and others. Tips to improve tone and tuning, tips to improve balance and technique – and more.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 189 – 7 Tips To Attaining Work-Life Balance

Do you keep a planner, either electronic or old school? It’s not enough just to “keep” one. Make it a tool to help you plan your life and keep you balanced.

In this episode, I share seven strategies that have helped me be more balanced and be a much more effective teacher. Find out why I have a two year calendar and what exactly I do on Friday nights. Why is it important to learn to say no.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 188 – Three Ps To Keeping Order in Rehearsals

Do you feel safe behind the podium? Get out from behind there! It’s not the best place for you. In this episode we talk about the podium, pacing, and getting 100% of students to participate.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 187 – Aim To Inspire From Day 1

Aim to inspire

Do you want to make your first week of school great? Do you want to make band fun? Get the students doing something musical from day one!

EVERY OTHER TEACHER is going to spend the entire first day talking about rules, rules, rules. That makes MY eyes glaze over. Sift your rules down to just 2-3. You can always go more in depth later.

Start the first week with high expectations and lots of energy. And check out Episode 182: Should You Focus On Sound With Beginners

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com)?

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Why don’t they teach that in school?! Check out Adulting 101.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Prayer Has Never Been Removed from Schools

I hear Christians lamenting all the time about two Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s that “removed prayer from schools”. This is a distortion of the facts. I decided it was time to set the record straight.

Those decisions did not remove prayer from schools, but removed state-sponsored prayer from public schools, and frankly I’m glad they did!

Christians have always been for the underdog, for the downtrodden, for those whose rights have been taken away, for those who are being abused. After all, it’s what Christ commanded us to do. And with our constitutional right to freedom of religion, this also includes the freedom to reject any religion. God has never forced anyone to follow Him. 

So why would we want to force people to pray? And what would happen if the majority of people were not Christian? Would they then have the right to force us to pray to their god? We should NOT have state-sponsored prayer in our schools, but neither should prayer be prohibited, and according to our constitution it’s not.

The dictionary defines prayer as a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship. Prayers can be out loud, or silent and in our minds. They can be made with eyes open or closed. While standing, sitting, or kneeling. The Supreme court decision in the 1960s did not ban prayer in schools. The constitution demands freedom of religion, which means you can pray whenever you want. 

Here’s why I think Christians have become dismayed over this subject…

Someone “in charge” at a school – a principal, board member, or teacher – has made a decision to “ban prayer.” Maybe the decision is made out of fear (many parents are ready to take every decision they disagree with immediately to the superintendent these days). Maybe the decision is due to lack of knowledge (many people misunderstand our freedoms – read the constitution please). Sometimes Christians have allowed themselves to be bullied in these situations. To be fair, the bully doesn’t always know he’s being one.

I pray daily at school – at my desk before I eat – in the hallway before students file in – while proctoring state testing – every Friday when I walk through the campus specifically praying for the school – and every week I pray for the leaders in my school district. 

Nobody stops me.

If a group of football players wants to get together before the game to pray – THEY ARE ALLOWED TO – and if some players don’t want to join in – they are allowed to refrain. If a group of students wants to meet early or stay late to study the bible – THEY ARE ALLOWED TO, unless the school prohibits all groups from meeting.

There are some things I’m not allowed to do…

  • I’m not allowed to use my music class time to proclaim the gospel
  • I’m not allowed to be disrespectful of other people’s beliefs that differ from mine

But what I’m allowed to do far exceeds that…

  • I’m allowed to pray whenever I want, silently during class or out loud when I’m alone
  • I’m allowed to talk to students about my faith when they ask me about it
  • I’m allowed to say Merry Christmas to students and staff 

You CAN pray in schools, for schools, for teachers, for administrators, and for parents and students. You CAN run for your local school board. When was the last time you prayed for our schools? Will you take a moment to do so now?

*** James Divine is in his 24th year of teaching, which he believes is his calling. Today’s Christian teachers are on a difficult mission field, but they have the potential for tons of impact. Find out more about James at www.jamesdivine.net.  Find out more about Prayer.

How To Pay For College Without Debt and Without Worry

College is affordable

We are constantly hearing all the “woe is me” about our colleges and the cost to attend! Some of those problems are our own doing, but college is still affordable!

My Story

I wanted to go to college for as far back as I can remember. My mom didn’t have any money saved up for me for college, but she did tell me I could live at home for free as long as I wanted while going to college.

I made the same mistakes many young people make…

  • I bought a NEW car (it was a Ford Escort, mind you, but it was still more than I needed)
  • Insurance was expensive on my NEW car
  • I felt like I was working just to pay for things needed for my NEW car (do you see a theme here)

I was taking one or two college classes and working full time at a construction job. It was ok, but I hated the work. Each night I arrived home tired and worn out, ready to eat dinner, watch tv, go to bed and do it again the next day. It looked to me like it would take forever to finish school at that rate, so I talked to a recruiter and joined the Army.

You can join the military and in exchange for three years of your life, you’ll receive about 72k in education benefits, plus you should be able to complete 2 years of college in a 4 year enlistment.

I started attending college while on active duty. I had to pay about 10% of the cost, the rest was covered by the military. There were only a few choices of colleges, it took me ten years, but I completed my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration!

You might be surprised at how many different types of jobs there are in the military. It’s not all about shooting weapons and war. I was in the band. You can be a cook, an admin assistant, work with finance, work in the chapel, shoot people, + a myriad of other options.

The Reality

I’m going to break down some real costs for my area (Colorado Springs)

Example #1: 18 year old student living at home with parents

Tuition at Pikes Peak Community College 3736

Books and Other Fees (you can probably bring this down buying used) 1800

TOTAL 5536

If this student works 40 hours a week at a minimum wage of $7.25/hour, he will earn approximately $15,000, more than enough to pay for college and have plenty to get around, plus some extra for fun.

Example #2: 18 year old student living on his own 

Tuition at Pikes Peak Community College 3736

Books and Other Fees (you can probably bring this down by going used) 1800

Renting a room in someone’s basement 6000

Food (does not include Starbucks or going out to eat; lots of ramen and mac and cheese)

3600

TOTAL 15136

If this student works 40 hours a week at a minimum wage of $7.25/hour, he will earn approximately $15,000. He will need to live somewhere close to the college and won’t have any extra money. However, if he took another part time job the weeks he didn’t have school – working just ten more hours per week – he could make 7.25/hour x 10 hours per week x 16 weeks = $1160. This could help pay for a couple of extra items.

But

  • This doesn’t sound like fun.
    • It’s not, it’s work, but it’s a sacrifice you make over a short period of time.
  • How can he work 40 hours AND do all his assignments.
    • The average college student spends upwards of 30 hours per week on media, social and otherwise.
    • Most wage earners actually stay at minimum wage only a short time. I earned minimum wage from the age of 14-17 – since then not. Once you prove to your employer that you are worth what she is paying you, you will earn substantially more than minimum wage.

Let’s take a look at a state college

In the state of Colorado, state colleges are required to take your transfer credits from community colleges when you transfer into their school.

Tuition at UNC Greeley 10,000

Room and Board 10,000

TOTAL 20,000

Now you have several options regarding work…

  • Continue working 40 hours/week and earning 15k/year; you accrue about 5k a year in debt, times two years. Not much debt at all. Work 60 hours a week during the summer to reduce that amount even more.
  • Don’t work at all during school, but work 60 hours per week during school breaks. Let’s also assume that since you now have your associate’s degree, you can now earn $10/hour. Your earnings would be $9,600/year. Let’s round that to $10k, so over two years you would need to borrow just 20K for your education. Once again very affordable.

The problem I see is that many students do not want to make the sacrifice needed to go to college. Because the loans are so easy to get and insured by the government, many students don’t work, yet continue to finance their lattes and vacations with borrowed money. Some choose to go to more expensive colleges. Some choose to major in Polka Music History and then wonder why they can’t get a job.

I wanted to get a master’s degree for a long time. I researched and looked into many possibilities. The 50k cost of most of many of them simply was not worth it to me. However, I finally found a small college in southwestern Oklahoma that gave me in-state tuition if I played in the summer band. I attended in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012. My total cost for a master’s degree was $9,000, which included room and board for the half of each week I stayed in Oklahoma. That’s $9k total, not per year!

Was it a sacrifice to have to drive each week? Yes. I could have stayed but I wanted to be home with my family. If you add the cost of driving, it would add about $3k to the total price. $12k – not bad for a master’s degree, and it immediately boosted my income about 5k per year as a teacher. There were options available in which I could have finished a master’s degree in 1-1 ½ years. Some cost 80-90k. If I had borrowed money to go to one of those schools, I would still owe the debt.

College is affordable. Don’t let the lies sink in.
*** James is a middle school teacher at a Title 1 school in Colorado Springs. He grew up in Title 1 schools before they were called that. Part of his growing up years was spent homeless – at least by today’s definition (we bumped around from family to family sleeping where we could; when mom was able to get her own apartment, we did not have electricity) – and on welfare. He is a strong believer in life-long learning. Sometimes that learning comes from a formal education, but mostly it comes from reading. Find out more at www.jamesdivine.net. Also check out more resources HERE.

I Wasn’t Always This Way

I wasn’t always this way!

People look at me – 55, getting better looking each year, married to my high school sweetheart, parent of four, grandparent of 8, successful band teacher, author, speaker, musician – and they think “Wow, James is so confident and sure of himself. Life has been good to him. I wish my life was like that.”

I wasn’t always this way!

I struggled, really struggled with self-esteem for many years. I know it was related to having an abusive father, being molested and all the damage that did to my psyche. I ALWAYS felt like I had to be dating someone, and my self-esteem plummeted when a girl would break up with me. I would beg her to come back, to give me another chance, to tell me where I failed. By the way, this is the worst thing to do. I should have said, “OK…I was thinking the same thing.”

My friend Amy – after hearing about the umpteenth time of a girl breaking up with me and how sad and lonely I was – she was one of those people who got to the point quickly – confronted me about why I felt like I needed to be dating someone all the time. I don’t think she even realized the impact of her words. It caused me to think. It caused me to change my behavior. I decided to stop being worried about finding the right person. Maybe I needed to focus on me, on becoming a better person! Becoming more Christ-like.

The interesting thing is that when I did that, that’s when I found my soul-mate, my life-long lover, my best friend. I started dating Susan soon after that talk with Amy. I knew in about a week that Susan was probably the one. (By the way guys, after a week is not the time to mention this, even if you know deep in your soul).

Even after I started my adult life, got married, joined the Army band and was a successful husband, dad and musician, my self-esteem was still rock bottom.

I wasn’t always this way!

You see, I am a recovering people pleaser. At first glance, a people pleaser seems to be a really nice person. Everyone can count on them. Need cookies baked, call a people pleaser. Need someone on a committee, call a people pleaser. People pleasers can’t say no. Ultimately for me, this desire to please grew out of a fear of rejection, which had its roots in not being close to my father due to his abuse of my mom. I felt that those close to me might reject me if I didn’t do everything they wanted.

Although I started killing off the roots of what caused me to be a people pleaser, I didn’t totally sever the roots until I went to Next Level Life in 2015. What is it? Two intense days of physical, emotional and spiritual counseling. In the course of the two days, you uncover your roots – patterns and behaviors that have contributed to how you act or react to things – and sever a lot of those roots (the bad roots). I learned to leave those people pleasing tendencies behind.

I wasn’t always this way!

So when you see me – successful, self-assured, confident, willing to disagree, making sure I have my priorities straight – I want you to realize it wasn’t always like this. It is a journey, a process, sometimes hard work that takes you from one point to another. I had the same doubts you have. I had the same struggles you have. I had the same lack of self-esteem as you have.

I overcame and

Now I am this way (but I wasn’t always this way)

And I like that I’m this way…the only one I truly have to please is God

And He’s pleased with me because He is making me into His image

By taking care of me first, it has given me more time

By focusing on my mission and calling, it has made me a better person

And believe it or not, I love others more than I ever have

So don’t look at me and say, “I wish”

But look at me and say, “If he could do it, with God’s help I can too.”

I love you.

I’m proud of you.

You make my life rich.

* James is first and foremost a son of the King. He is also a teacher, musician, speaker and author of Forgive: One man’s story of being molested. Find out more at www.jamesdivine.net.  Find out more about Next Level Life at www.chrislocurto.com

Episode 186 – What To Do At The End Of The School Year

End Of The School Year

You’ve just performed your last concert and there are two weeks left in school. Now what?

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 185 – Advice for When Someone In Your Community Loses Their Life

Loss of a Life

There is nothing about a lost life that is easy. I experienced a huge loss in a community I served a number of years ago. I navigated it with great difficulty, anguish of heart, and much prayer. Hope my journey helps you.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 184 – What To Do In a Parade

Parade

A parade can be a lot of fun – or it can be stressful and annoying. The choice is really up to you. These tips can help it lean more towards the fun side!

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 183 – Is Getting a Master’s Degree Worthwhile and Affordable

An affordable master's degree

Although I have been in music my entire adult life – 34 years to be exact – I did not have a music degree until I was 43 years old. I had wanted to earn my master’s degree for many years, but kids, life, and cost prevented me. There are excellent master’s in music education that cost 25, 35, 50 thousand or more! Do you know what I paid for mine? Just $9,000! It’s more affordable than you think. And there were no student loans.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Advice: Choosing Quality Band Literature at the Appropriate Level

Choosing Quality Band Literature

Here are a few things I have learned about selecting music for wind band…

Ability Level of the Ensemble You Direct: 

A piece of music may be the greatest creation ever made, but if it is too difficult for the students to play, they will become discouraged. I often made the mistake of selecting literature that was too difficult in the early years of my career. Does this mean that there should never be a piece in the folder that is beyond students’ reach? No, there should always be something that we are looking at that would be a stretch for our group. Musicians have never “arrived.” We are always working and striving for better things.

My students still say things like “This is too easy.” I have learned to explain to them that – yes, their individual part is easy, and each person may feel that way about their part, but when we put it all together it isn’t musical yet. It’s hard to make music when one is struggling with the technique. There is good quality music available at all levels. At some levels it will take more digging to find the quality stuff, but it’s there. You might use a resource like the Teaching Music Through Performance series.

Instrumentation: 

This is a difficult one. If you don’t have an oboe/English horn player, it will be difficult to do a piece like Russian Christmas Music. It can be done – and as a professional sax player I have played the oboe and English horn cues in that song – but it just isn’t the same. Likewise if you have no trumpet players or few low brass players, there are simply some things you cannot perform.

I want to thank one of my mentors, Joe Brice, for helping me in my teaching in this area. He came to clinic my band and said “You need another tuba.” Of course I agreed but stated that I couldn’t do anything. Joe answered with a detailed, thoughtful answer that represented his 50+ years of experience. He said, “Did you ask anybody?” At that point I wanted to slap my head in a big “Duh; why didn’t I think of that” moment. I asked and convinced three students to switch over.

My point is that – although instrumentation (or lack of it) can be difficult, we really need to take a long term approach to it. Ask your students if anyone wants to switch, especially if – like me – you have a ton of flute players and less of others. Some of those who switch will become awesome; some of them will go back to their original instrument. That’s ok! Explain to the students why it is important that some of them switch for the good of the band.

Rehearsal Time: 

We are involved in the field of music education. Sometimes I think we forget that…I know I have…especially as we rush to prepare for a concert, festival or competition. A director of a professional symphony may be able to prepare difficult pieces with just 2-3 rehearsals. However, our job is not only directing, but educating. As I have gained more experience, I have realized that the educating part of the job is much more important and has more lasting effects.

I think it is better to do one or two high quality pieces and play them extremely well than to perform 4-5 pieces and not have really learned anything in the process. It is important to dig deep into the music, the history and even some analysis of the songs being performed. So often we are so busy with the need to get through the music that we forget to instruct students about the music.

Select Quality Literature: 

Now we arrive at probably the greatest challenge in selecting music. How do we define quality? For me, the definition has changed a lot over the course of my teaching. There are many pieces I regret having wasted money on in my early years of teaching. I know quality when I hear it, but I don’t always recognize lack of quality (if that even makes sense). There is quality literature at every level. There is junk at every level.

Here is my definition of quality music…

Quality music moves me emotionally. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, not a cover your ears and run out of the room uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in the sense that my thinking is challenged. It is expressive. It is melodic. Although it may contain repeating motifs, it is not the same two measure repeating motif for 120 measures.

Now do you feel qualified to determine whether music is of quality or not? Me neither. We need something more. Frank Battisti in his book The Winds of Change says that many directors have stopped attending concerts and listening and studying great music. We must expose ourselves to great music so we can know when we hear it. Battisti likens it to a wine connoisseur whose tastes improve as he becomes exposed to more wine. I liken it to a little kid who thinks a fast food burger is the greatest thing on earth, until she matures and realizes that there are burgers ten times better than the fast food variety.

I encourage you to listen to great music, attend your state conference and listen to the groups selected to perform, and when you go to contest, schedule some time to listen and observe other groups. As Battisti states, your taste level will be elevated. You will become better equipped to know when you hear poor quality music.

I will end with a quote from Battisti, “We are what we consume! If one wants to become an artist conductor/teacher – one must consume great Art.”

***James has been a performer and educator for over 30 years, teaching band and orchestra at every level from 4th-12th grade. He also hosts the music ed podcast, delivers keynote speeches using music, and has written several books on music and life in general. Find out more at www.jamesdivine.net. 

Episode 182 – Should You Focus On Sound With Beginners – Here Are Three Tips

Great Sound from Beginning Band

Air will get you there! I learned this from one of my mentors when he would come to work with my band – and even as a professional musician – when taking lessons – I was told to USE MORE AIR. In this episode I share three tips to help your beginners get a fuller, rounder, thicker, more beautiful tone. It’s a process – a life long one at that!

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

Episode 181 – Teaching Jazz Phrasing

Teaching Jazz Phrasing

I recently taught these exact same lessons to my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands. It didn’t take them long to get the hang of playing notes the proper length and acquiring a swing feel. In this episode, I lead you through the process to teach the same concepts to your band.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here

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

Burned 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.

I just took the test again recently. Even though I am not burned out, I am in the danger zone – probably because of Covid. I address those thoughts in a recent podcast HERE.

Episode 180 – Have you thought of leaving the profession – Hang in there

Committed to Teaching Band

It has been a crazy year for teachers! Even though I KNOW I am where I am supposed to be, I still found myself looking at job postings at least 100x the last year. Listen in as I share from my heart about my calling and how those of us with a high EQ can navigate our crazy feelings.

Has the show benefited you? Would you consider supporting the podcast with a $5/month pledge through patreon or make a one time donation of any amount through Paypal (jamesthedivine@gmail.com). 

Find out more about fundraising for your program at Scool Services

Check out Music, Instruments and Science which includes 8+ lessons that are great for use on sub or distance learning days.

Need a speaker for your event? Need leadership training for your students? I’d love to talk.

Have a question for the podcast? jamesthedivine@gmail.com or 719-238-4193. 

Multitude of links and resources here