Monday, October 20, 2014


All-District Band Auditions | Tips For Staying On Top Of Email | Yamaha in OKC!!

All-District Band Auditions: Are your students ready?
by Chuck Appleton

Preparing your students for All-District and All-State Band can be a challenge, especially with all of the activity of a busy marching season, but what a difference it will make in the playing level of your band!!! Here are a few tips that could help you motivate your students:

1. Get the material in the hands of your students as quickly as possible.

A good time to hand out those materials is when you are handing out music for your marching season. Spend some time speaking of the importance of learning that music early! If you haven't gotten your students started on this music, make it a goal for this week. For many of you, auditions may be as early as November 8th. Not to worry! Many students will do most of their preparation the last 2-3 weeks prior to the auditions anyway! The key is motivation. If you think it's important, they will think it's important.

2. Direct the students to look up the materials on the state website.

In Missouri, the materials can be found on the Missouri Bandmasters Association website ( This website will have helpful information about the auditions as well as any changes in the materials or audition procedures. Additionally, This will also help the students become more familiar with this organization whose purpose is to help make Missouri bands better!

3. Provide or direct your students to recordings of these materials.

This is an excellent way to help your students focus on the characteristic sound for their instrument as well as provide them with accurate rhythmic and musical examples of each requirement. A few of our Missouri Universities provide excellent recordings. Get these into the hands of your students as soon as you can to help them feel confident about their practice of these materials. Providing them with audio recordings is an excellent way to help the focus and confidence of your students.

4. Take some time in your marching rehearsals to practice the audition materials.

At this point in the season, your shows may need some "breathing room". Pre-select your section leaders or other students that are practicing this music diligently and break into small groups by like instrumentation allowing these students to offer their expertise to their peers. This is great for your leaders and provides a low threat environment for the other students to learn and ask questions. This can be done inside or outside, depending on space and availability. Often a rainy day is a great day to divert attention away from the show and onto this material for most or all of a rehearsal. Think of the importance of doing his for the students sake. You may just find your marching show improving by not practicing it for a rehearsal!!! Often twice a week is a good amount of emphasis. It doesn't have to be long. 15 minutes on a regularly scheduled basis will do amazing things for the level of preparation!

5. Offer letter points or grade points or both for auditioning for All-District/All-State Band.

Students often need a "reason" to do something. Providing a large amount of points for auditioning for an all district or an all state group is often just what is needed to get started. Offer one amount of points for auditioning and another amount for actually making the ensemble. This way a student is rewarded for the attempt, and if they make the group they get a bonus! You may just be amazed at how hard they work for those points. Also finding a way to help these auditions help their grade rewards students for making the attempt! If you give an attendance grade, this may be a way to help out students who lose points for tardiness or absences.

6. Do scale tests in your marching rehearsals.

WHAT??? It's easy! Put your students in a circle or arch and have them play the "scale of the day" individually. It only takes a few minutes and you will hear scales when you get on the field each day!!! Remember to say the magic words, "this is for a grade :-)". Simply walk in front of each student and have them play whatever scale you have announced ahead of time for that days quiz. Using an 11 point scale (A=11, A-= 10, etc) makes it easy for you as a director to get a quick score. As you train your students, this will go very quickly and won't take much of your rehearsal time at all. It also gives you more ammo for parent teacher conferences!

7. Do a "mock" audition in class.

You be the "blind judge" (students will LOVE this) and run the audition just as if it were the real deal. It only takes about 5 minutes and you can do one a couple of times each week. You may just find you have several students wanting to be the auditioned person so they get the extra opportunity to practice their auditioning skills. It also provides a realistic look for all your students into the audition process.

Auditioning for All-District/All-State band will only be important if you make it that way. Devoting some rehearsal time to the process will help to provide the playing emphasis that will transform your students into strong players. Good luck and happy auditioning!!

Chuck Appleton
Road Representative - Palen Music Center
[email protected]

Chuck Appleton has been teaching instrumental music for 33 years. He retired in May of 2010 and is currently a member of the Missouri Valley College faculty in Marshall, MO as a music adjunct. Chuck taught twenty-three years in Warrensburg, where he was director of bands and eight years in Dixon, MO. A native of Sedalia, Missouri, Mr. Appleton received his bachelor of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1979 and a Master of Music Education degree from Central Missouri State University in 1995. Mr. Appleton served as Band Vice-President for the Missouri Music Educators Association from 2006-2008. Mr. Appleton is also a member of MENC, Missouri Bandmasters Association, Missouri Association of Jazz Educators and Phi Beta Mu.

Tips For Staying On Top Of Email

Excerpted from the book HOW GOOGLE WORKS by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, with Alan Eagle. Copyright 2014 by Google, Inc.

1. Respond quickly.

There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can't. Strive to be one of the former. Most of the best -- and busiest -- people we know act quickly on their emails, not just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone. Being responsive sets up a positive communications feedback loop whereby your team and colleagues will be more likely to include you in important discussions and decisions, and being responsive to everyone reinforces the flat, meritocratic culture you are trying to establish. These responses can be quite short -- "got it" is a favorite of ours. And when you are confident in your ability to respond quickly, you can tell people exactly what a non-response means. In our case it's usually "got it and proceed." Which is better than what a non-response means from most people: "I'm overwhelmed and don't know when or if I'll get to your note, so if you needed my feedback you'll just have to wait in limbo a while longer. Plus I don't like you."

2. When writing an email, every word matters, and useless prose doesn't. Be crisp in your delivery.

If you are describing a problem, define it clearly. Doing this well requires more time, not less. You have to write a draft then go through it and eliminate any words that aren't necessary. Think about the late novelist Elmore Leonard's response to a question about his success as a writer: "I leave out the parts that people skip." Most emails are full of stuff that people can skip.

3. Clean out your inbox constantly.

How much time do you spend looking at your inbox, just trying to decide which email to answer next? How much time do you spend opening and reading emails that you have already read? Any time you spend thinking about which items in your inbox you should attack next is a waste of time. Same with any time you spend re-reading a message that you have already read (and failed to act upon).

When you open a new message, you have a few options: Read enough of it to realize that you don't need to read it, read it and act right away, read it and act later, or read it later (worth reading but not urgent and too long to read at the moment). Choose among these options right away, with a strong bias toward the first two. Remember the old OHIO acronym: Only Hold It Once. If you read the note and know what needs doing, do it right away. Otherwise you are dooming yourself to rereading it, which is 100 percent wasted time.If you do this well, then your inbox becomes a to-do list of only the complex issues, things that require deeper thought (label these emails "take action," or in Gmail mark them as starred), with a few "to read" items that you can take care of later.

To make sure that the bloat doesn't simply transfer from your inbox to your "take action" folder, you must clean out the action items every day. This is a good evening activity. Zero items is the goal, but anything less than five is reasonable. Otherwise you will waste time later trying to figure out which of the long list of things to look at.

4. Handle email in LIFO order (Last In First Out).

Sometimes the older stuff gets taken care of by someone else.

5. Remember, you're a router.

When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful. At the end of the day, make a mental pass through the mail you received and ask yourself, "What should I have forwarded but didn't?"

6. When you use the BCC (blind copy) feature, ask yourself why.

The answer is almost always that you are trying to hide something, which is counterproductive and potentially knavish in a transparent culture. When that is your answer, copy the person openly or don't copy them at all. The only time we recommend using the BCC feature is when you are removing someone from an email thread. When you "reply all" to a lengthy series of emails, move the people who are no longer relevant to the thread to the BCC field, and state in the text of the note that you are doing this. They will be relieved to have one less irrelevant note cluttering up their inbox.


If you need to yell, do it in person. It is FAR TOO EASY to do it electronically.

8. Make it easy to follow up on requests.

When you send a note to someone with an action item that you want to track, copy yourself, then label the note "follow up." That makes it easy to find and follow up on the things that haven't been done; just resend the original note with a new intro asking "Is this done?"

9. Help your future self search for stuff. If you get something you think you may want to recall later, forward it to yourself along with a few keywords that describe its content.

Think to yourself, How will I search for this later? Then, when you search for it later, you'll probably use those same search terms. This isn't just handy for emails, but important documents too. Jonathan scans his family's passports, licenses, and health insurance cards and emails them to himself along with descriptive keywords. Should any of those things go missing during a trip, the copies are easy to retrieve from any browsers.

Excerpted from the book HOW GOOGLE WORKS by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, with Alan Eagle. Copyright 2014 by Google, Inc.

PMC OKC Is Now A Fully-Authorized Yamaha Location!!

Congratulations to Charlie Bartrug, Kirby Swinney, Brad Hurt, and the Palen Music Center team in Oklahoma City for becoming the newest fully-authorized Yamaha band and orchestra location. You can now purchase or rent new Yamaha instruments at all six PMC locations. Come by and say hello to Charlie and Kirby.....and order some Yamaha products while you're there! :)