Posted by dougbutchy on May 20, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on May 13, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on May 6, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on April 21, 2012
Another PMEA Annual Conference is coming to a close, and as I sit in the lobby of the beautiful Lancaster County Convention Center, I am reflecting on all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had in the last few days.
First of all, Lancaster is a beautiful city! Being a naive westerner in this state, I assumed that this convention center would be in the middle of farmland somewhere. I couldn’t have been more wrong…it is a beatifully historic city that predates the revolution by at least 40 years. My colleagues and I had a wonderful time spending our first evening here walking around and exploring (and even getting in a photo walk – pictures here soon).
One of the things I love about coming to conferences like this is that I get re-energized to teach. It is such a great opportunity to see great educators and outstanding students at work. It is wonderful to sit in a session and hear great teachers sharing great ideas. While listening to some truly outstanding high school and middle school ensembles over the last few days I thought, “I am so lucky to have a job where I get to do something I love every day – make music with students!” It was so exciting for me to watch these young people perform music at such a high level and to realize the time and effort that they and their teachers and families have put in to get them to that point. All of these things motivate me to want to do better in my own position back at my school.
Reconnecting with old friends and meeting some new people has also been tremendous. It is great to meet up with them and share stories and laughs. It is also very comforting to know that we all face the same type of challenges in our programs It is great to get input from other perspectives and to have fresh ideas to approach these challenges.
Admittedly, I haven’t been to a music educators conference for a few years, due to a number of factors. This year, I had a student make it into one of the ensembles (which I am very proud of) and so I was able to go. I am so happy that I had the opportunity, and I feel like I don’t ever want to miss another one!
The conference has been tremendous – a truly exciting and reaffirming experience! If you were able to make it to your local state conference this year, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections as well!
Posted by dougbutchy on April 15, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on April 15, 2012
I will be attending this year’s Annual PMEA In-Service Conference in Lancaster, PA. If you are unable to attend, you can check out the CoverItLive below to follow the official hashtag, #pmea12.
Posted by dougbutchy on April 5, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on April 4, 2012
Posted by dougbutchy on February 25, 2012
This week, one of my french hornists successfully auditioned into the PA All-State Band. I am so proud and happy for him! He always had a sincere desire to make it to the all-state band since he was a Freshman. At our school, we have a wall in our music wing where the portraits of all 6 of the previous All-State Band participants hangs. Three of them are french horn players. Following our District Festival, we examined his scores and we met and laid out a plan for him to make the all-state band at the next audition at Region Band. What is so exciting about this is that we mapped out exactly what he needed to improve about his playing, and we came up with a practice plan to help him prepare. Then, he stuck to it – faithfully. He practiced every single day for the last six weeks and all of the work that he put in paid off! This is the first student I have ever had in my 8 years of teaching music that has ever made it to state band. I think I might be more excited than him!!
You can read more about it over at our band site here.
Posted by dougbutchy on February 21, 2012
Over this long weekend, I decided that it was time for a different setup for my concert ensembles in the rehearsal room. I have previously tired “in the round” rehearsals, and it worked out very well. This time, though, I wanted to do something different, so I started doing some reading and found two different interesting ideas. The first was to group the instruments a little bit differently so that instruments with like tonal quality were grouped together. But the other thing I tried is what I want to share.
Space them out.
I had read that if you want the instruments in the ensemble to resonate properly that you should try to space out the students at least one chair away from another. I tried this, and in my ensemble of about 40 winds, it took up the whole band room. One caveat here – if your space is limited and you have a large group, this probably isn’t going to work in your band room. But, you may want to try it on stage for your next performance! Anyway, I was immediately amazed and what I heard and so were the kids! It was amazing how much cleaner and clearer all of the parts in the group were! Woodwind tuttis that I thought were sloppy were now instantly cleaned. Plus, I could hear every kid and every instrument in the group! It was amazing!
As the students left rehearsal that day, I asked a saxophone player what he heard. He said, “I heard parts in those songs that I never knew existed!” Others commented about how much easier it was to hear for intonation and balance. I can’t wait to see what the group sounds like on stage!
If you have the room, I strongly encourage you to give this a try and let me know how it works out for you! Have fun!