Today, I was at a District Band Clinic that ends with a concert later this afternoon. For those of you that are not sure what that means, I'll explain...
I blogged before about how music students audition for the prize of a place in a District or Region Band. Well, the prize includes a day of rehearsing with students from other schools under the direction of a guest conductor. This culminates in a Concert performance for parents and the community after only 12 hours of rehearsing. Picture an All-Star Game of the sport of your choice.
This is great for the students. But what good is it for the Band Directors who have taught these students?...
We as directors are given a tremendous opportunity to not only network with other directors, but to literally go to school for a day and learn from the guest conductor as well. The guest conductors are considered Master Teachers in the Music World and display some of the highest levels of teaching models. It is priceless to watch another director work with a group and pick up new tools of teaching to use with my students. I have begun to have a notebook with me when I come to take notes and reminders of the things I should take back to my classroom (I have a horrible memory). And it's free... with no registration or convention fees.
I, as a director, cannot wait until these days in the school year when I can sit down or stand in a hall with fellow directors in the area and brainstorm. After years of teaching, I am not afraid to bounce ideas off of others to test and see if they are really great ideas or just stupid ideas that I should change or forget all together. It is a pride issue when I risk the chance (and often it is the case) that my idea is truly off-base and I am embarrassed to have spoken. However, I have most often discovered that my colleagues are forgiving and willing to help me find a solution to my issue. Sometimes, I will even come to the conversation having a full knowledge and be able to help someone with an issue they are struggling with. Still further, is the chance to make connections and schedule with fellow directors from another school a time when they can come and work with my students during class time. These conversations are such an encouragement for me as I go back to my classroom the next Monday to work at improving my students. We cannot be the best teachers we can be by ourselves. We may be very intelligent. We may have loads of experience. We may even have 5 degrees to our name. But, the world of teaching music is changing almost daily and the only real way to keep up is collaboration and communication with others who may have different contacts with the music world than we have.
The Band Clinic/Concert experience is a microcosm of the best in Music Education. Students work hard like athletes for 12 hours. Teachers go to school to improve their teaching. Friends and colleagues are given an open opportunity to network and brainstorm for the betterment of the students who are not even at the event.
Because, after all, it really is all about improving student's lives in the end... Right!!