Monday, May 8, 2017
How Do You Deal? by Villette Stamper
Hello from Stigler, Oklahoma! My name is Villette Stamper and I and my husband, Ryan Stamper have been the band directors at Stigler Schools going on ten and eleven years. This time of year has always carried some mixed feelings for us. We are looking forward to our summer vacation but also hastily trying to take care of all the "paperwork" side of things to close out the school year.
I'm sure many of you are all too familiar with all of the necessary band director tasks: uniform inventory, instrument inventory, instrument repair and maintenance, summer cleaning, complete-asset inventory (from computers down to that old dented music stand), music inventory, and so on and so on. I'm still trying to remember what all I need to do, but the one thing that I wanted to talk about, the one thing that might be on all of our minds...personnel inventory. That's right, taking inventory of what students will or will not be in your band program next year.
I know several of my colleagues have already held their recruitment programs for the upcoming years' beginning band class and have an idea of what their beginning classes will look like for the next year. We also think about our other classes; your second and third year students, high school band, jazz band, etc. I've already mentioned a long list of things that band directors do to close out the school year, but it never stops does it? We are also planning for next year -- primarily for high school band -- all the while closing out the current school year. Oh, and did I mention that we have to continue being great band directors. We try to keep inspire our students to want to be and do better, because we have to put on an awesome end of the year performance. Let's all take a big sigh right about now, do you feel better? This is what we do, this is who we are, and we may be crazy...crazy prepared...but we keep coming back for more...and so does most of our students. I say most, because let's face reality for a minute...not ALL of our students come back. So that brings me to my headline, "How do you deal?"
Think back to the first few years of your teaching career, or maybe you are still in that stage of your career. Everyone has had their fair share of, dare I say, horror stories. Needless to say, this time of year for me was a nail biter for those first few years. My horror stories dealt more with personnel inventory. I thought maybe I need to go beg, maybe I need to apologize to some of these kids who are quitting...why are they quitting...I need them back...STOP! Though some of those things may be true; there is a time to humble yourself and apologize if you made a mistake and begging isn't usually very attractive. What does focusing on those who quit say about your other students, your students who are there and who are committed? My dear loving husband gave me some very wise words of advice: "Why are you so focused on those who quit, when you should focus on those who are still here?" Ouch! But, he was right, and still is most of the time by the way! We don't want any of our students to give up music, for any reason, but not all kids quit because they don't want to do band anymore. Many times it may be money or a scheduling conflict; you should take the time to find out what those reasons are and try to alleviate conflicts when possible.
But there is a bright side to this story. You know what those first few years had in common for me? Every year that we dropped in participants in the high school band and I lost students that I "needed", those were the years that some really great students had the opportunity to step up, become better players and become better people. I had some really awesome student leaders. How did I miss these kids? Why didn't I spend more time on them? Because, I was so focused on those who were quitting.
So, how do I deal? It has taken me ten years to get here and I know there are some great band directors out there that picked this up long before I did. So here it is, LET IT GO! Yes, I just quoted that very popular Frozen song, but it stands to be SO true, just let-it-go. These young people that you get the privilege to stand in front of every day and for some as many as 8 years, they are great overcomers and they will step up if you let them. Many of them will help you take care of your end of the year/beginning of next year "stuff" if you just ask them. And if you really want to blow some kids out of the water, those who you know won't be in your class next year, go to them, shake their hand and say "Thanks for being here, I wish you all the best of luck and success in your life". You should even say "hello" to them in the hallway and out at lunch, you will rise above and so will they, and so will your life-long bandies. In closing, how do I deal? I let it go. It doesn't benefit my life to hang on to it, it takes away from so many blessings, it doesn't benefit anyone.
We want to thank Kale White with the Broken Arrow store and all the staff at Palen Music Center for their help and support in every aspect of our lives. We are truly blessed to be a part of the Palen family and we wish everyone the best of luck finishing out the school year and hope you all enjoy your summer!
Villette Stamper, Director of Bands
Clarinet Pinkie Keys Chart
Here is a link to a very helpful clarinet pinkie key chart that Melissia Goff spotted in Salem, MO. You can also click the image below for a printable PDF. Enjoy!
Pictures from the Classroom
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