What is he doing to the band?!?!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpet blower88, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 15, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    The last couple years at my highschool we've had the top concert band in the state, and one of the top few in the country. We've played at Bands of America, Boston, Carnegie Hall, and next year maybe Midwest Band/Orchestra clinic. The reason why we've been so succesfull over the last few years is because we all play so well together, we love playing, we love rehersing, and we all work together so well, it's a top notch program, very close to a professional level ensemble.

    Unfortunatly all that is changing this year. Our director is just not makeing band fun anymore, and I don't want to bash him, because he is a great guy, a great person, and a great friend. I'm sure theres a few of you on here that may know him, I know of at least two. He really is an amazing musical genius, but I'm afraid he is ruining the music experience for so many kids.

    One of the things he and the staff want to start next year is a fee at the begining of the year in order to be in band and to help pay for new equipment and trips to places like I've mentioned above. But a price tag of $500 dollars is just rediculous! Once we start these trips (maybe to Chicago next year) the students will have to pay anywhere from another one to two thousand dollars, and thats not even counting smaller trips to California or New Mexico we take a few times each year at another $300 dollars a piece. I can understand the reasoning behind this band fee, and personaly I think it's a great idea if it could work. The thing is, we don't live in a rich area, if it cost $500 to be in band next year, we will loose 70% of our ensemble.

    This next subject is on the marching band. For the last 25 years, our school has been know as what is a "corps show school". I'm not to much into marching band, so I'm not to comfortable talking about this subject and I'm not really sure what is ment by a "corps show", but the thing is, he and the staff has compleatly changed it, they are starting a new kind of show (they got the idea after attending a competion in southern california where we saw a compleatly new styl of show). Now, I'm fine with change, it might be a good thing. But the problem is that none of the students liked this new style of marching band, it just dosn't seem like a marching band to us. But that is what the show is going to be next year, even though all the kids hate it. So I suspect that the marching band will loose another 20% to 30% of its students next year.

    My third and final complaint deals with written assignments. I understand that the district has new requirements, and all classes have to have some of these typs of assignments, for example maybe writing a short biography on a famous composer or something like that. But he's taking it to far. Basicaly, he wants us to analize every aspect of each piece of music we're playing and write an essay about it. Now, this is a fine asignment for maybe one of our pieces, but keep in mind each group is playing 5 or 6 peices, and many students (including myself) are in all 3 ensembles. This is about 15 pieces that I have to analize. He expects us to put in 4 to 6 hours of work on this assignment for the week. And yes, thats just this week, G-d only knows what he will expect us to do next week.
    Maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but in my opinion, I just think the time would be better spent practicing our horns...

    After the last couple years I had at my highschool I never thought I would say this, because we have such an amazing music program, but I am so relieved to know that I'll be going off to college next year and won't have to deal with this anymore.
    As I have said before, my director is a great man, a great musician, and I have the upmost respect for him, however I think he's trying to make too many major changes in too short a time. And allthough I respect him, many of my fellow classmates no longer have any use for the guy.

    I'm just awfuly worried that in a few years the music program will be down the drain, its starting to happen now and none of the staff are noticing it, they believe everything will work out fine, but the truth is the students are just not likeing it, and when it all comes down to it, it's not the staff that make a program great, it's the students....
  2. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    I don't know if this is the case but schools are operating on a shoestring budget these days, in my opinion it's because the school districts have to many administrators. You talked about all of the trips your band went on and believe me it is not cheap to take a band on a trip. He probably has no choice on handing out written assignments and he really does not have the time to read and grade them so this is a rather sore spot for him also. Times are changing and I guess every one has to be flexible. For what is worth they are talking about consolidating the sports programs in some of our local schools so that two or three schools will join together to field one team, the fine arts programs can't be far behind. Dave
  3. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    These things happen. You said yourself that there will be clear consequences to imposing some of these changes (i.e. enrollment dropping when the $500 fee is imposed, etc.). If those consequences occur, your director will have some thinking to do about "his" program.
  4. wilcox96

    wilcox96 Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 31, 2005
    charlotte nc
    Your director is stuck between the desire to keep the program vibrant and interesting (albeit a bit overzealous).... and a presumably drastic cut in funding. You can sell only so many oranges, World's Finest Chocolate... etc. hahah. Now... asking the kids to foot the bill? That's a real stretch. Sounds like he needs to hook up with a local or corporate sponsor of the band. There are tons of ways to do that...provide banners saying "courtesy of...Billy Bob's Auto Megaplex"....whatever....or even to the point of naming the band with the sponsor's name as part of it.

    The chips "will" fall where they may, as the above poster suggests (re: people dropping out). It will either domino...with the program eventually imploding...or "someone" will get the picture and redirect the efforts. You can only hope it's the latter.

    The best thing for "you" to do..is not lose sight of why you play in the first place. There is more for you after HS, if you want it. Don't let this take your eyes off the prize. Music is a glorious thing....hang in there. This too shall pass.
  5. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    Why don't you ask him? I am sure there are many aspects of this situation that you are not aware of.
  6. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 15, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Many of us have asked him in a non-offensive and respectable way, but we can never really get a straight answer from him. I don't think he realizes just how big of a hit enrollment is going to take.

    One of the problems finacially too is in the Band Parents group. They do alot of the fundraising and behind the scenes work, but starting last year the band boosters have stoped boosting as much as they have been. We as students tried to step up and try to rais some money, but the truth is, all we can do are things like carwashes, and thats not going to fund a trip to Midwest. The Band Parents have talked so much about various fundraisers like Golf Tournaments, Poker Nights, Car Shows, grant writing, all the things that students can't really do, but nothing ever gets done, it's just all talk.

    I'm not trying to point the blame on the band parents, or anyone for that matter, I just don't want to loose this amazing program that the school has worked so hard over the last 25 years to create, and I'm not sure what else we as students can do.
  7. jcstites

    jcstites Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 1, 2005
    Tallahassee, FL
    I wasnt sure if I wanted to repsond or not, but here goes.

    My father is a band director, so i grew up around a high school band program.

    He has always tried to keep costs to be in the program very low. There are alot of bands that have fees far above the $500 you mention. Students hear $500 and think - "WOAH, no way will my parents pay that, they wouldnt even buy me a freaking ipod." But what they dont see is that the parents will be much more willing to pay for a fee for band than many other things. If a students really wants to be in the band and the family is having a hard time coming up with the $, im sure the director will do what he can to work with them. The last thing he would want is for a great student (even a decent one with a good attitude) to not be able to participate.

    The marching show idea, get over it. There are alot of different types of shows and certain shows that need to be done to place well in competitions. Every band has experimental years, somtimes it works, somtimes it doesnt. There is only one way to see how it will turn out. I really doubt the change in the show will cause many students to drop band. If they are stupid enough to do that, then most likely they arent the kids you really want anyways.

    I think the homework could be a GREAT thing. Maybe they are doing a little much, but I wish I would have had to do that. You will learn plenty from doing those. I bet if you talk to your director that you wont have to do full assignments for 3 different classes. He will understand.

    My gerneral observation is for you and the other students to look at it from a parent or teacher's standpoint and it will make alot more sence.

    About the funraising. We went on big trips every other year (macy's, rose parade, and all that) I never paid anything to go. Not because my dad was the director, but because I sold that much in the fundraisers. I sold soooo much fruit. I didnt want my parents to have to pay anything, and they didnt. Most of the fundraisers take some work, the kids who are lazy about it are the ones who complain about the costs of trips.

    An idea for your band if you dont already do it. Is a car wash, but dont charge by the car. We did a free car wash. They way to make $ is that each student gets pledges. Most people would pledge 1 or 2 cents. If you wash 1000 cars, thats $10 or $20 per person. Its all cash, all straight to your fundrasing. You can wash the cars at dealerships also.
  8. wilcox96

    wilcox96 Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 31, 2005
    charlotte nc
    Your director most likely "won't" share the full facts with you...as the problem is part administrative (not for student knowledge)...as for the boosters, well support seems to be diminishing.

    I can't stress enough...it's great that you care about your program. That's all great...but I encourage you to "stay encouraged" about music as a whole. Do what you can for the program...but keep in the back of your mind why you love it...and what more there is out there for you. Yet to come.....

    In a nutshell... don't become a number in the percentages in those drop out projections....

    I wish you the best....
  9. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    88- You as students can stop the watershed by just being there and showing up and doing your part. Support each other, and work through it. Tough times require that wqe pull ourselves together to rescue what we feel is important. Abandoning ship does NOT solve the problem. (I know you're graduating...use that line on the underclassmen).

    If you can't get a straight answer from him, there might be a reason. Someone who is as dynamic as you say he is, and has done all the things he's done over the years (and it does sound really outstanding, BTW), is not going to just waste all that and throw it away for no reason at all. He's put ALOT of work in to get the program to where it is...believe me. Too much to waste on needless and thoughtless change.

    Parents groups can be alot of hot air. They can also cause lots of headaches for the director if they try to run things when they shouldn't. But they can also be of great service to the kids and the program itself.

    When you're on the podium, and it's your program, you'll have insights you don't have right now. Be patient and work with him, not against him.
  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    And from a parent of "band geeks"... I have twins in H.S. Two years ago their band director tried to float the idea of a trip to Italy for the band. Cost? $3,000 PER STUDENT to be paid by the families! Guess what happened to THAT idea? Historically they've taken bus trips to Disneyland and "Lost Wages"... by bus. Typical trip cost for a trip "down south" $700 per student. A lot of fruit, cookie dough & magazine subscriptions. Still requires $$ from somebody's pocket to cover the cost and you can bet the school board (which struggles to even maintain the buildings) isn't going to "pony up".

    A year ago some company tried to muscle in on the action claiming that they could provide just as good a trip and demanding to be allowed to "present a bid". Turned out that the trip involved parents driving their kids to Calgary (2 hours each way) to catch a 6 AM flight to San Fran. and then a bus ride down the cost to LA and then a return flight to Calgary. Cost? A measley $1,000 per member. (Can you hear the sound of a toilet flushing?) That trip was also severely modified. (Read "cancelled and replaced with a bus trip to Vancouver and back").

    On occaision their trips involve a long-weekend run up to the Banff School of Fine Arts for workshops and "band bonding". Again, the parents (or kids themselves) have to come up with the cash. If they want to be in the jazz program they have to give up 3 noon hours per week (maybe that's why the leadpipes need so much scrubbing out!?) Concert band is "after school hours" which is yet another commitment. Only the kids who WANT to be in band and/or choir participate (a good thing at the High School level).

    At this very moment the band and choir are in Victoria BC. Last night they went to U. Vic. to take in a concert by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Then they run two concerts a day at area schools for the next three days; a lot of equipment packing/unpacking and bus loading/unloading. This trip required an individual commitment of $550 PLUS "pocket & lunch money". They've done a lot of fundraising so it was on average down to about $300 per person. Some of them work part time jobs to pay for it, some get the money from their parents. Some can't make the financial commitment and stay behind, "in class".

    What do I, as a parent, see to make this all worthwhile? Well, 1) it keeps them associated with a social peer group that has high personal standards; 2) it teaches them the need for teamwork to an extreme level (I've always thought that banding requires a higher degree of teamwork than even team sports); 3) it teaches them a degree of independance: they are away without their parents and have to make decisions (what to eat, what they can afford, how to behave in public); 4) they get to travel "outside their own secure zone", meet other people and learn about others. But to my mind the single, most important element of band trips?

    5) the availability of these trips provides an incentive for students to be in band in the first place and to stick with music for all of the other intellectual benefits and the spin-offs that are associated with learning music. They become better PEOPLE as a direct result.

    I'd say it's extreme "value received".

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