Posted by dougbutchy on March 31, 2011
This morning the SHS Symphonic Band had an outstanding rehearsal with Mr. Andrew Erb, Director of Bands at Thiel College. The Band is preparing for the annual Large Ensemble Music Performance Assessment here in PA, and I asked my dear friend Mr. Erb if he would come in and work with the band for an extended rehearsal time. My building administration and teachers graciously allowed the band students to come to band rehearsal for a double period so that he would be able to work with the students for a decent length of time. (I wish to give the administration and faculty my sincerest thanks for allowing this to happen!)
Andy and I talked before rehearsal and he asked if there was anything specific that we had been working on that I wanted him to address. I told him that I purposely didn’t want to tell him, because I wanted his fresh ears and fresh ideas. I have known Andy for many years and he is an outstanding musician, and I knew he would pick out the things that he was hearing and work on them. Plus, this clinic was as much for me as it was for the students…it allowed me to hear some new perspectives on pieces that I had been rehearsing for several weeks now.
To my absolute joy, Andy presented many great musical thoughts, ideas, and techniques to the group…each one completely different that anything I had told them. This was great for the students because while he of course reinforced many of the things I had been working on, he also had some new ideas that made the band sound great! Andy has spent many years in the HS band setting and was able to relate to the students immediately…they responded great and even laughed at his corny band director jokes!
Then it donned on me – I should do this much more often. I think that I am going to try to have someone come and work with the students at least once per semester and maybe even once per nine weeks. Even if it’s just a director from a neighboring school, I think the fresh ears and ideas can only help the band improve!
If this is something you have never done before, I highly recommend it! I can tell you with a certainty that my group is playing better than they were an hour and a half ago before working with the guest clinician…and I will be a better conductor/teacher too! So, call some friends and have them come and work with your band – it can only make them better!