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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, February 15, 2010


The PMC Quick Note is a service provided to all area directors. It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest. The Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


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A Columbia University study revealed that students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express
their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.

-- The Arts Education Partnership

Take a Bite out of the Budget Crunch by Marvin Manring

No sooner does the holiday season end than another one starts…the Budget Season! They do share the appearance of either Santa Claus or the Grinch at your school, depending on how you do your homework. I’ve outlined a few guidelines for seeing the budget process through:

1) Take stock of your current resources. Don’t start any process without examining what you already have. If you don’t have your current inventory list for equipment, request one from the central office. If it’s badly out of date or disorganized, you’ve just taken a big step to demonstrate you’re serious about improving the school’s program.

2) Examine previous year’s requests. Do the research to find previous copies of budget requests, or ask the central office to show you the previous year’s invoices and purchase orders. Often the major sections of the budget items are split into categories of repair/maintenance, supplies, sheet music, entry fees, and new purchases.

3) Look for opportunities to purchase shared equipment. Often a specialty percussion instrument will have applications in both a high school and middle school setting, doubling its intended value to the program. I usually buy a middle school piece for the dual purpose of high school sight-reading and middle school performance.

4) Be specific about what holes need to be filled. It’s very important for you to justify exactly what the coming needs of the program are. Remember, you are the advocate for your talented players in your band. Your research and evaluation of their talent when you consider a new instrument purchase can carry a lot of weight.

5) Present a timeline for long-term needs of the program. If your school is interested in growing a program, the administrators are usually receptive to longer-range plans that you have for new purchases. You will have to be persistent! It’s unlikely that you will get all you ask for, especially the first time around. Don’t be discouraged. Creating that plan gives you a “history” with that request that you can use again the following year. Prioritize, and prepare for some compromise over the short term, but be persistent!

6) Use evaluations of clinicians and adjudicators in making priorities. The festival process is yet another tool that can be helpful in your case for new or better horns. (I still hear the occasional comment about what’s missing in the band when I play at festivals. Sometimes I miss it too!). If you didn’t have that instrument in the first place, why not use that information to your advantage in negotiating a new purchase? Clinicians can also suggest changes to you after they work with your band.

7) Don’t forget maintenance of present inventory, and upgrades! Dry cleaning of band uniforms? That one has gotten by me a couple of times, much to the displeasure of next year’s band. Flush a tuba? More often than you’d like to think. How about upgrading the mouthpieces for your high school band’s harmony woodwinds? Your road representative is a great sounding board if you’re not a woodwind expert, or can suggest alternatives if you want to make gradual changes over several years. Your advanced woodwinds and brass may be playing a mouthpiece that is limiting improvement of your band’s sound.

8) Catch a bargain and bill to next fiscal year. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get the equipment you need during a convention special, closeout or special buy from your music store. If you are able to take a little of the “sticker shock” out of a large purchase so much the better. Many districts embrace the lease-purchase option while others don’t. Your store rep can crunch the numbers and give you a solid plan to submit in order to get what you need now.

9) Take note of facility improvements for your room. It’s sometimes as basic as “The roof leaks” or as essential as “Carpet would help kill the ringing sound.” Capital improvements to make the room an effective part of your teaching can’t be overlooked. If you’re a newer teacher in the school district, your evaluating administrator can be a big help in this area when he or she visits your classroom. Discuss the sink that doesn’t work or lack of storage if it isn’t an obvious problem. Remember, you’re the advocate for the best environment.

10) Do the paperwork! Neat, organized, and thorough is a sure sign that you’ve put in the time and aren’t taking a shotgun approach to the process.

For me, this process is as important as any in helping me to focus on the goals of my band program. Quality instruments do not always translate into a quality effort from every student, but a poor instrument will rarely produce it, if ever. I encourage you to make the statement that you want your program to move forward, and that the students deserve the best possible opportunity to succeed. Good luck!

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Phil Myers, and Paul Bowen (417) 882-7000
Columbia Robert Pitts and Jake Herzog (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock (816) 792-8301
Joplin Wayne Blades, Scott Frederickson, and Chelsea Samuel (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Mark VanVranken and Tiffany Dempsey (918) 770-6827


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