Monday, March 4, 2019

Our Bad Habit Midwest Double Reed Rally

Our Bad Habit, and How Tri-M Can Help Fix It
by Sarah Sacco

Sarah SaccoI would bet that 99.9% of us all share a very similar bad habit... We overwork ourselves. Sure, we've gotten better about it over the years. Or, more accurately, our spouses and children have forced us to be better about it because they want to see us more. So, for the sake of our families, our own mental health, and our career longevity, how can we truly get better at this problem?

Here's an idea! Use a Tri-M chapter to get stuff done so you don't have to! You should "get out of your own way" and start/utilize your Tri-M chapter. Most of us either don't have a chapter or we are not utilizing it enough, all because we thought it would be more work. The thing is we ALL overwork ourselves when we don't have to! We CAN trust kids to get stuff done. A wise man once told me, "Don't do anything that doesn't take a degree in music to do." So, let's stop with our bad habit of overworking and replace it with training our kids to do the work for us.

A simple internet search told me the best way to break a bad habit is by replacing it with a habit that provides a similar benefit. Ok... What has a similar benefit of overworking myself? If I do the job, it's going to be done right. That's typically why we overwork. We all tend to be "control freaks." Sometimes we need to let go of the reigns and let the horses run wild. No, actually don't do that... Let go of the reigns and let the horses run in the predetermined space that you have already fenced in. In other words, teach your kids how to do the work for you. There is no need for you to set out every chair for every rehearsal. There is no need for you to fold the programs for all of the concerts. There is no need for you to stuff every folder with music. All you need to do is establish the expectations and let your kids take ownership.

Tri-M is a music HONOR society. This club should be made up of your TOP kids! If you invest time in training them how to do all of the things that do not require a music degree, things will run smoother and you'll be happier! Much like National Honor Society, I require my chapter members to earn a certain number of points each semester. There are several ways they can achieve this, but my favorite way is by participating in activities that will not only better themselves as musicians, but also take some of the load off of my fellow music teachers and myself. For example, our elementary music and after-school strings program teacher uses at least three Tri-M kids at every concert. They take pictures for her, help get kids on and off the stage, and anything else she needs during that stressful time. It is a huge relief for her! Another way to earn points is by organizing the music library for any of the music teachers. I have heard and seen so many horror stories of new teachers coming into a school and the music libraries being a mess. Music is everywhere, nothing is filed, most music isn't even in score order... a nightmare. If only they had Tri-M kids! We all hate to file music, but if you give it to a Tri-M member they will be glad to help you and feel proud of doing it.

It's not too late! You can change this bad habit and you have kids sitting in your classes right now who are dying to help you. So use those kids! Start a Tri-M chapter and let them take ownership. I know in band many of us have student leaders that can do the same work, but one great thing about Tri-M is that I have the BAND-only Tri-M kids help at choir events and CHOIR-only kids help at band events. This way we always have help and no one is stretching themselves too thin! They have proved themselves musically and will now contribute through more than just reading music. You're teaching them life skills that will help shape them forever.

If interested in starting at Tri-M chapter at your school (middle school or high school) please contact me and I can help you with the process. If you are a member of MMEA you can start a chapter on MMEA's dime! Contact me at [email protected] for more information!

Mrs. Sarah Sacco has been the Director of Bands at Ava High School since 2008. Mrs. Sacco attended Missouri State University for her undergraduate Bachelors in Music Education and completed her Master's Degree in Secondary Education Curriculum Instruction from Drury University. Together with her husband, Chris Sacco, they co-direct the Ava Pride Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Pep Band, and the Middle School Band. During their time at Ava High School their students have been selected to perform in the District #9 Honor Bands, Missouri All-State Honor Band, The Missouri State Lion's Band, The Macy's Great American Marching Band, The Bands of America Marching Band, and The Army All American Marching Band. Their students are also actively involved in the Missouri State Evaluative Festival solo and ensemble contest earning top ratings in both district and state performances. Instrumental ensembles under Mrs. Sacco's direction consistently earn superior ratings at the Missouri State Evaluative Festival and marching band festivals. Mrs. Sacco's professional affiliations include NAfME, MMEA, MBA, Phi Beta Mu, and Sigma Alpha Iota.
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