Posted by dougbutchy on 28th June 2011
Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
Posted by dougbutchy on 2nd September 2010
Beginning this Friday night, I will be embarking on a new journey in my life. In early August, I accepted a position as the Director of Bands at Shenango High School in New Castle, PA. I am very excited to begin working with the students and families there, but at the same time sad to be leaving Sharon. I began my career here, and it is hard to leave. It is really amazing how quickly 6 years has passed!
I believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not regret a moment of my time at Sharon, but I felt that this was the right opportunity for me at the right time. I am moving from a position where I taught in 4 buildings, grades 4-12 to a program that is strictly 7-12 in one building. I will still have a junior high and senior high concert band (along with marching, jazz and pep bands), but will also be teaching some theory and a history of rock and roll course. I am really looking forward to those new challenges! I am also excited at the possibility to integrate more technology into those classes as well.
I am also moving to a smaller district (about 1/2 the size of Sharon), which I believe I will be more comfortable with. The school is very similar in size and demographic to my alma mater, so I believe I will be better able to relate to the students there.
I am looking forward to writing about my new experiences in my new school and sharing those moments with you. I will continue to ask for your feedback, and I appreciate all that my PLN has done for me in the past 6 years! Thanks for reading and interacting!
Posted by dougbutchy on 6th June 2010
Born June 4, 2010
Everyone is doing well! Mom and baby will be coming home Monday!
Posted by dougbutchy on 2nd January 2009
Okay, this isn’t music related, but I have decided to take up the 365 Days of Photos Challenge. If you’re interested, you can follow my progress via flickr. I enjoy photography, so it should be fun! I hope you enoy it as well. I don’t know that I’ll upload every day, but I’m going to at least make an effort to take a photo every day this year! Wish me luck!
Posted by dougbutchy on 29th November 2008
Here is a neat idea I got from Lee Kolbert. She says, “Taking a long hard look at the words that are most often used in my blog is a great way to analyze my blog’s direction.” I took her up on the suggestion, and had interesting results. She suggests that we follow these steps:
1. Create a Wordle from your blog’s RSS feed.
2. Blog it and describe your reaction. Any surprises?
3. Tag others to do the same.
4. Be sure to link back here and to where you were first tagged.
I am happily surprised by the fact that “students” is obviously the largest word. I feel that this rings true to my usual focus in my posts. The other thing that surprised me a little bit was how large the word “elementary” was. This makes clear to me that I spend much of my time focusing on my elementary program and how to make it better. The elementary program is a very important facet of the entire band program in the district.
Try out Wordle for yourself and post your results in the comments here!
Posted by dougbutchy on 21st October 2008
I am particularly frustrated this afternoon with teaching. I wish I taught at a school that made AYP. Then maybe I could actually just focus on teaching music to the best of my ability. At my school, we have not made AYP yet in the 5 years that I have been here. This means that we are dangerously close to having the state come in and basically tell us what to do. This scares me because one would assume that if your school isn’t passing the state standardized tests, that your arts programs would probably be one of the first things to go.
My concert is December 4, and I only have about 12 rehearsals left until the concert. Why so few you ask? Oh, that is because we have choir and band the same period, and we must share the kids. That means that I only have 2 rehearsals per week (3 every other week). Oh, and by the way, since we aren’t passing the state test in reading, I am supposed to be teaching reading strategies during my class. Oh, and I have to have my students do writing assignments every 2 weeks as well!
I am sure many of us face these same challenges every day. I know that it is probably foolish to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe it is foolish of me to think that all I want to do is teach music! What frustrations are you facing?
Now the PS – I began this post directly after school today. Now, coming back to it some 4 hours later, after having spent a wonderful evening with my family, I have calmed down. These are still frustrating issues to me, though. I can deal with the paperwork and other tasks that I have to do daily that take up my time, but when I am in front of my class, I want to teach MUSIC…is it really going to be my responsibility now to teach reading and writing too? I hope that I am only part of a small number of music teachers facing this dilemma. Is there anyone else out there in the blogosphere being ask to teach something other than music during their classes??
Of course, on the other hand, it’s just a job…
Posted by dougbutchy on 7th August 2008
I have finally bought a new iMac and have discovered the joys of Garage Band. Yes – I have been messing around with it, instead of writing my drill, like I should be! Anyway, with some fairly modest audio equipment at home, I have finally produced my first podcast! I am very excited to use this tool for personal and professional podcasts. I have a lot of ideas for different shows, and am looking forward to it…it kind of takes me back to my radio days at WYSU! This first podcast is essentially me interviewing good friend Lee Caldwell, and it is a bit crude, but I wanted to get something “out there” just to make sure I had some idea of what I was doing. We discuss his band and the upcoming marching season, as well as a recap of the Mercer Community Band season. There are also a few random things in there! This is an enhanced podcast, so you should be seeing some images along the way. Please let me know if the podcast works okay for you! Any comments are certainly welcome!
You can also find the RSS feed on the right sidebar!
Posted by dougbutchy on 14th May 2008
As I type, I am listening to a CD recording made of our concert by Bryan Helsel of Helsel Music. He does excellent work, and has very quick turn-around. My concert was only last Thursday, and I received my CD today, less than a week later. He also does a very nice job printing the inserts with all of the students names and a complete track listing. Thanks Bryan!!
Anyway, just some more reflections as I am listening. I like to see if the recording really reflects what I thought about the concert. In this case, the recording does reflect accurately what I thought after the performance. The pieces that I thought sounded good do sound good, and the pieces that I thought didn’t go so hot didn’t.
While I am listening, I am reflecting on how both the middle and high school groups sounded when I first arrived here. I may even pull out the recording from my very first holiday concert, even though I know exactly what it sounds like and even shudder at the idea of hearing it! It was not good! HA! Anyway, it is a good feeling to know that this program has progressed so far, and that maybe I actually am teaching these students something!
I really challenged these students this semester with the difficulty of music that they were playing, and I am very proud of their performance. They gain more confidence with each performance, and they become better musicians with each performance. Some particular points: 1. Intonation within the group is getting better. Still a few “nasty” spots, but overall really MUCH better (darn those high clarinet parts!) 2. Balance and blend is MUCH better as well. We always talk about “playing inside the bubble” of the group’s sound. For the most part, the group does a pretty good job of this (darn those high clarinet parts!) 3. Dynamics are getting better as well. The students are finally starting to figure out that dynamics are what make a piece more interesting than just playing notes. 4. The kids are finally starting to play with some emotion! This is very exciting! They are finally starting to figure out that playing with emotion makes a piece more interesting than just playing notes!
Overall, I think it has been one of the best Middle-High School band concerts yet! There are clear signs to me that the students are improving musically, and this is very re-assuring!
Posted by dougbutchy on 28th April 2008
This just may be a problem in my area, but I wanted to put this thought out there and get other impressions. It has only been 11 years since I graduated from high school, and already it seems to me that students are not as motivated as they once were. Or maybe dedicated is a better word. I don’t know. Here’s what I mean:
I feel like when I was in high school, we had students in our group that were totally dedicated to the program. They would never consider missing a rehearsal, or God-forbid, a performance, for anything. I can remember hanging out before and after school in the band area with a group of quite a few other students. I took private lessons, and so did many other students. Band was my favorite class of the day, and I just couldn’t wait to get there. There more band activities that I could be involved in, the better. All of my friends were in band. If I was in the band, why would I go to a basketball game and not play in the Pep Band? That’s where all of my friends were. I would never dream of not preparing my music for a lesson, or a rehearsal, or a performance. I could go on, but I think you probably get the idea. It just seems that I am over-run with students who are not motivated to be better musicians, students, and humans, and who are not dedicated to the program.
Now, I know there are a number of factors that are unique to my situation that could have an impact on this. The program has had 3 different directors in the last 10 years. The band is a small group, and almost every student is involved in several other activities (that of course conflict with band in every way imaginable). Perhaps that blame here should be placed on me and the way I run the program. I know that my directors were very influential in shaping my attitude about the band. On the other hand, maybe I just haven’t been here long enough to make that much of a difference yet. Don’t get me wrong, I do have students that are very dedicated and somewhat(!) motivated. It is just a very, very small group of students – like 5 or so!
Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated!
Posted by dougbutchy on 23rd April 2008
Even though I created this blog back in November, I am just now making my way around to actually writing something. This is due largely in part to good friends Joe Pisano at Mustech.net and Travis Weller (Composing Like Mad). I also thought that this may be a great outlet for me to get fresh ideas and perspectives, and maybe even to vent a little. (Sometimes, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone!) Just this morning, I was thinking of what my first blog could be about, and then came a moment in my 3rd period senior high rehearsal that was very interesting.
The group is working on Ticheli’s Loch Lomond, and doing well, although this piece is maybe a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. Anyway, I had the group add a crescendo that was only written for the saxophones and clarinets; because my group is small, I wanted it to be more effective. My first chair trumpet player, who is only a freshman, raises his hand and says, “Why did you have us put that crescendo in there? I don’t like it.” My first thought was, “Yes! Here is a student who has his own thoughts about how the music should sound!” To me, this showed a sign of maturity in his musicianship that was exciting! It’s funny that something like a student disagreeing with me would be so exciting to me, but it was because here is a student that is beginning to make his own musical decisions….isn’t this exactly the type of thing that we’re trying to teach our students??
Anyway, there was my first bloggable moment, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I am looking forward to continue writing here, and I welcome and comments that you may have!