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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, January 28, 2013


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


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The Band Director’s Balancing Act by Chuck Appleton

This article focuses on things we can do as band directors to balance our programs and our lives so that we can not only have the great bands we hope for, but more importantly, the great lives we desire!

Is your band program balanced?
Are you offering all that you can for the students that you teach? What goals do you have for your students and yourself? At our school we offered a Concert Band, Symphonic Band, two high school Jazz Bands, a middle school Jazz Band, a Marching Band, a Winter Drumline, a Varsity Winter Guard and a Junior Varsity Winter Guard. In addition we had many students who would earn district and state honors by auditioning for All-District/State Band. We also encouraged our students to participate in Solos and Ensembles and take private lessons. We included these things as a large part of our lettering system. There are many wonderful parents and teachers where you live. Why not ask them to help you do some of these things? It is important to highlight the accomplishments of your students throughout the school year. Pictures and articles in your local newspaper as well as radio announcements can help to spread the word about your program. The key is to try and emphasize all areas of your program equally. By doing so you will have well-rounded musicians.

Do you as a director get enough sleep?
Doctors tell us that the body needs 7-8 hours of rest to replenish its strength. Many band directors are guilty of “burning the midnight oil” and trying to get one more thing done before tomorrow. I submit to you that “tomorrow has enough worries of its own”. Do what you can today and then start where you left off in the morning! It’s tough to do that when you have deadlines breathing down your neck, but with practice, discipline, self-control and time management you can be successful. Keep some kind of a list and work off of it. It is very satisfying to check things off of that list! Of course I am not talking about deadlines like contest entries or income tax! Make sure you get some rest!

Do you exercise regularly?
Exercise is a great stress reducer, not to mention it just plain makes you feel better! I know, you are saying, “when would I have time to do that???” Well, the simple answer is: you have to MAKE time. For several years I would exercise in the evening. Then our children came along and I realized that my priority of time needed to be with them, so I switched to the morning. The great thing about early morning exercise is that it gets your body going for the whole day and it doesn’t rob valuable time from your family. It’s an amazing thing! You would think that by doing this you would be tired all day, but just the opposite is true! You feel energized and the best thing is you will be moving faster than your students (who have probably just climbed out of bed!) and they will never know what “hit them”. You must find “exercise” that is fun for you, or you won’t do it. Think of an activity you enjoy and GET STARTED!

Do you have dates with your spouse or do you make plans with your children or friends?
This is so important! We all know how busy we get and sometimes our students or our job can take priority over relationships with others. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN! If you are married, make your spouse #1! It may not be easy, but the outcome is so worth it. If you are happy at home, you are going to be nicer to your students and more patient with everyone. After all, remember that the lives we touch in our classrooms are influenced for a lifetime. If you are single, set up weekly times to get together with friends and do fun things not related to school!!!

What do you look forward to each day?
Each day when you get up, try to think of one or two things that you are looking forward to about the day. You will be amazed at what a difference that it can make in your overall attitude. My wife and I not only taught in the same school district, but had the exact same lunch time my last few years. One of the things I looked forward to most every day was seeing her and talking about the day, our kids or making plans for upcoming events. How about after school? You could plan to go out to eat at a nearby town or catch a movie or just plain shop! The important thing is to find a “dessert” that you look forward to each day and each week. Of course you will have some evening and weekend band events, but strive to have things to do that are not related to your job. The job will be there when you return.

Having a hobby often helps with balancing your life.
Do you have something that you enjoy doing just to relax or recharge? Participation in a community band can be a great outlet for you. Many towns have a community band that rehearses during the summer. It is a great way to keep your chops in shape and also network with other musicians. Don’t be afraid to drive to other towns. They will be glad to have you and you will enjoy it! Maybe you like to hunt or fish or cook or clean. The important thing is to have an outlet that will refresh you and help you to gain new perspective on the situations in your life. If you work hard and play hard, you will find life is not so hard. Step back often and take a good look at your band program, where you have been and where you are going.

Remember to keep you life “balanced” and nothing will be able to topple you over! Moderation is a key concept in our band programs and our lives. Good luck and let me know if I can help YOU!

Chuck Appleton
1411 S. Ridgeview Drive
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Music Adjunct, Missouri Valley College, [email protected]
Educational Representative, Palen Music Center, [email protected]

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