14+ Ways to Volunteer for a Marching Band to Appreciate and Applaud What is Good About Teenage America

by John Gardner

volunteer_image-517x453In a quick search on variations of “teen school behavior”, “teen behavior” and such, I found links to a several behavior modification schools, advertisements for parental survival guides, places that want to segregate teens to ranches or boarding school type setups, medical and mental solutions….. wow. If you watch much TV, you hear about how current teens are falling behind academically or lacking dedication and commitment.

I hear from people who ask how I can be in a room with so many teens or why I would want to spend all that time with them. They inspire me with their youthful enthusiasm, but why rely on second-hand information? Volunteer with a local marching band organization and travel with the group to a marching band competition. There’s a lot of good stuff happening, academic, artsy and otherwise. Here are over 14 ways to volunteer for a marching band to appreciate and applaud what is good about teenage America.

Volunteerism Opportunities

Nearly all bands have a Band Parent Organization, but in some cities, or with smaller bands, finding enough help is a challenge. Most of the adults volunteering with a marching band have students in the band, but very few organizations would limit help to ONLY parents. Jump in. You’ll be accepted, appreciated, respected and even loved.

UNIFORMS. Are you good at measuring and sizing? All band students get sized for uniforms every year. That normally involves finding a coat, trousers and hat that fit. Someone has to keep track of who has what number of which piece of the uniform. Then there is distributing and collecting accessories like gauntlets, plumes, gloves, braids, sashes and other uniform add-ons. Marching Band uniforms can easily cost $400ea, so it would cost $40,000 to uniform a 100-piece band.

There is a need to manage and maintain those uniforms to increase the life expectancy and reduce the frequency of buying new sets. Older uniforms require dry cleaning, which is no small undertaking. Organizing them for pick up or delivery, removing the items that don’t go to the cleaner, then re-assembling and reorganizing upon their return. Some newer uniforms are machine washable – but also no easy task. Do you have a large front loaded washer you would be willing to use for your local band? That also helps with the savings from the dry cleaning bills of before.

COSTUME DESIGN/SEWING. The Color Guards (Flag Corps) generally have a separate, custom-designed outfit to go with the show theme and colors for that year. Drum Major(s) sometimes use a theme-oriented, custom uniform as well. Volunteers can save the band significant money by sewing, rather than purchasing flags and/or uniforms.

CONSTRUCTION / PROPS. You’ve seen the sets on a theater stage. The football field is the marching band’s stage. Bands want props to shrink the size of the stage or to enhance the theme of the show. Props can be decorative or functional (ramps, storage for equipment/uniform/costume changes). Maybe it is building and putting wheels on carts to haul all the extra percussion equipment (marimba, xylophone, timpani, gong, bass drum, keyboard, sound system, etc) in such a way that it can be moved easily.

Local props have included an analog clock painted on a full size trampoline, 10 foot hour glass, a ship complete with flag pole mast and sails that go up and down, tarps, tepees and more. If you’re not the construction type, share your design and creativity talents.

PIT / FIELD CREW. All that sideline ensemble equipment and any props must be put into place and then removed after the performance. Getting the band on and off the field is an operation that some competitions recognize with a “Best Pit Crew” trophy. The good news is that those on the pit crew generally get into the competition for free and get to hang out with the band students around the buses before and after a show. What a deal.

FOOD. Like to cook/fix foods for big events? Like to see smiles on teen faces? Want to serve? When bands travel to competitions and events, there are often times when it is necessary to feed them. The local band students get excited when they hear about “what’s for dinner”, especially things like potato or soup or taco bars, walking tacos, burgers, pizza and the like. Most of the meals served locally cost the band parent organization about $2 per person (does include both donated and purchased items). After a performance there is often a snack table with sweets, fruits and water. If you’re a food service professional, your skills could be especially helpful in planning, coordinating and calculating. Not only do you get into competitions for free and get to hang out with enthusiastic teens, but you also get to enjoy meals with them.

On her post, “Zen and the Art of Drum Corps Shopping”, Emily Tannert describes that most Drum Corps get most of their food from a food service company, but lists the following as a “daily shopping list”:

30 loaves each white and wheat
50 packages hot dog buns
8 gallons milk — 4 x 2 percent, 2 x 1 percent, 2 x skim
1 gallon barbecue sauce
10-plus lbs. peanut butter
250 slices American cheese
40 tomatoes
18 heads lettuce
20 lbs. baby carrots
6 watermelons
Generic Dayquil

Read more of that article.

CHAPERONES. Unlike the general population of the school, band students understand the behavior expectations and how they are held to a higher standard. They understand that travel is a privilege that can be lost. Band students are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and riding the bus with them, helping them get all their uniform parts together and such…. is really a fun job. Many chaperons are “Mama [insert name]” to the students. They understand chaperons are a reality and they do not make it a hard job. And yes, you get in free…..it is the least we can do.

DRIVERS.The bus drivers are school corporation employees, but most bands have trailers of various sizes, or even a semi to pull. Are you a professional truck driver? Have your own rig? One year our band borrowed a trailer from a local warehouse company that had their advertising on it — and used a truck donated by a local delivery company. A parent volunteer drove and the band parent organization paid for the fuel.

FUNDRAISING. In most high school music programs, both instrumental and vocal, the financial requirements involved in funding a competitive ensemble (show choir / marching band) can be staggering. A new uniform drive needs $40,000 the same year the band is going to Disney ($80,000). Throw in a new set of drumline percussion instruments ($10,000), another $10,000 for a sound system, $25,000 for five new tubas, $3,000 for drill design, $1500 for music, $5,000 for flags and guard uniforms, food for road trips, transportation costs, etc.,  and you can see that fundraising is a major part of a successful marching program.

Are you good at organizing events, making calls, creating publicity, motivating people? Your skills would be invaluable.

CONTEST/EVENT ORGANIZER. A marching band competition can involve over a dozen marching bands bringing a couple thousand teens, 50 school buses plus vans, trucks, trailers. The group is flying in judges from all over the country, housing and feeding them — as well as providing hospitality for directors and drivers, concessions, advertising, announcing, timers, people to help each group through their event schedule, score tabulators and so much more. Competitions are large fundraisers, but also massive undertakings. Can you help with parking, crowd control, first aid — or as a runner to take care of all the highly stressed and sometimes demanding band directors? Whatever you like to do, there is probably a job for you at a marching band, winter guard or indoor percussion competition.

GRANT WRITING. There is money out there, but the competition for it is great. Are you an experienced grant writer? They could certainly use your help.

BUSINESS MENTORING. Do you run a small business? Have a business degree? Band Directors are trained educators, not necessarily heavily trained in the business skills involved in running the “business” of a travelling competitive program. And the band parent volunteers are always well-meaning parents who want to help, but don’t always have the organizational or motivational skills that could make them more effective and successful contributors to the program.

Especially in programs organizing “competitions” as fundraisers….the organization requirements are huge — and most would accept constructive help from a local business professional.

MEDICAL. Students with asthma have prescription inhalers. Someone severely alergic to bee stings may have emergency medication. There are those on behavioral modification medicines (including narcotics) or with medically prescribed ankle or knee braces. An intensive performance in uniform with the added stress of competition and heat, students need real help when they come off the field. It is not unusual for students to get a variety of injuries (twisted ankles), bumps from flag poles, sun burn, dehydration and more…. The local show choir was fortunate for a number of years to have a parent who was a chiropractor who would transport a portable table to competitions to help dancers with injuries and stresses. If you are a medical professional, your advice services could be put to good use.

LEGAL. Increasingly, band and choir parent organizations are incorporating — and part of that process involves legal services. Can you help? Bands make contractual commitments to drill designers, instructional and expert staff, choreographers, and more. Perhaps they are building sponsorship relationships with local business. You could help them saying the right words the right way.

FINANCIAL. Bands often have an individual participant financial requirement that can be met from everything from parental checks to profit from a multitude of fundraising projects. So, in addition to the general fund expenses, there are individual student accounts. On a major trip year, responsibilities are magnified as families make scheduled payments into an account, or where the band treasurer must coordinate with the travel company on all those individual accounts. If you can’t be the day-to-day person, perhaps you could help set up the spreadsheet or recommend the program to use — and offer financial or bookkeeping advice.


A marching band should be run like a business, but that is hard to do when most of those in the operation are untrained and unpaid. If you can help, please do.


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Posted in High Schools, Marching Band, Parenting, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , ,

Teens will listen

By John Gardner

Talking to the band

R – E – S – P – E – C – T

I have been working with teens for years. I thrive on their youthful enthusiasm. I have always believed that if you show them that you really care about them as an individual, and treat them with dignity and respect, that they will give it to you in return. I think you can see that in this picture – can’t you?

Posted in High Schools, Music Department, Personal experience, Respect, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

7 C’s Students Deserve from Teachers

By John Gardner

7 C’s Students Deserve from Teachers has nothing to do with mediocre grades.

Students are worth fighting (advocating) for and deserve teachers who CAN (proficient, competent), who CARE (compassionate, empathetic), who CONNECT (communicate with, not at), who COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE with colleagues and parents, who COORDINATE all that goes into providing an organized, informed and inspiring atmosphere,  and who CHALLENGE what constricts their enthusiasm. I want to be one of those.
-John Gardner

I used a portion of the above as a facebook status and received a significant response from students, parents and others. One assumed I had just returned from a professional seminar…I took that as a compliment.

Have you ever heard comments like these from students? I have.

He is a terrible teacher. He can’t do anything outside his teacher textbook or PowerPoint presentation that he got from the textbook website. 

If I am going to learn this, I’m going to have to do it myself.

I used to like [insert subject]. 

She doesn’t care about me, doesn’t know who I am or anything about me and probably doesn’t even know my name….’cause she never calls me by name.

That was probably up to date information a decade ago.

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Students deserve teachers who CAN. In a music setting, students deserve teachers who are proficient musicians. Whether you call it modeling or some other name, they need to know that you know what you’re talking about. Vocal students probably get to hear their choir teacher sing more often than instrumental students hear the teacher play or perform on their main instrument.

I was working with a group of freshmen students on a combination of scale, finger technique and breathing skills by playing a scale multiple times on one breath.  At one point, a clarinet student interrupted me with, “C’mon, these instruments can’t go any faster than that.” I got my clarinet out and zipped through a 3-octave chromatic scale multiple times in a breath. The next question; “How did you do that?”

That provided an amazing teaching moment.

Students deserve teachers who CARE. Yes, there are lines, boundaries and appropriate behaviors and otherwise…but one of the problems with teens is that they feel they are nothing more than educational fodder into which we professionals are to dump vast amounts of useless (their perception) information.

At what age are students no longer touchable or hug-able? I have had students in my office (even on the side of the marching rehearsal field) break down with emotion as they tell me about heavy duty drama at home, with job, boy/girl friend, or when they can’t get that marching set or flag toss. I don’t make a habit of hugging everybody (and shouldn’t), opting more often for high fives, hand shakes and shoulder taps….but sometimes ….sometimes, that student, boy or girl, needs a hug or an arm around the back onto a shoulder. Sometimes a proper touch is a powerful force for which there is no equal substitute.

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Students deserve teachers who CONNECT. It is difficult to connect with a student unless they perceive that you know your stuff and that you care about them as an individual.

He talks at me, not with me.

She’s up there and I’m down here.

My grandma/grandpa died, but if I cry in class I’ll be in trouble.

I got this in a thank you note following a graduation open house visit:

Thanks for being there for me during my troubled teenage years. When family and parents are so totally dysfunctional, it is good to know that I could go to someone and share my burden and get encouragement and advice. I don’t know why (well, yes I kinda do) so many teachers are afraid of students…. but thanks for not being one of them.

Students deserve teachers who COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE with other teachers, parents, and others on their behalf. Have you ever had a student who is stressed about another class because he/she is convinced the teacher has mis-understood (or mis-judged) him and is afraid to say anything….and you help out? Or how about a student who has zero support from home and trying to get through the FAFSA/Financial Aid jungle alone….and you help or make a call to the college FinAid department? Or what about students applying for jobs and scholarships. Do you make a call or write a letter on her behalf?

Simple Goals
“S-Steps To Success”

Students deserve teachers who plan, organize and COORDINATE all that goes into providing an organized, informed and inspiring atmosphere. The student’s locker and probably their home bedroom are likely disaster areas. Their home life might be a total wreck. They deserve structure and to know that they are important enough that you have spent some time getting ready for them. Some teachers may think they can “wing it”, but students can detect that. When they want improvisation, they will go to a jazz/rock concert. They need structured freedom to explore and learn, not disorganized chaos.

Students deserve teachers who will CHALLENGE what constricts them. 

It was about one of my own sons that I sat several years ago in a middle school principal’s office enduring a fist banging on the desk accusation of “pushing” my kid. 

My response as a parent, and now as a teacher, is to prevent walls from being erected in the path of student progress.


Thanks for reading,
John Gardner

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Responding to a credit card question

A friend posted a question on Facebook asking for feedback about “Square” as a credit card processing option. Sent her this link from an earlier post: http://www.virtualmusicoffice.com/3-credit-card-processing-recommendations-for-small-business/

Posted in Teaching Music

Why do I teach? Here are a whole band of reasons.

By John Gardner

Band and Guard Staff immediately after announced as GOLD achiever.

Band and Guard Staff immediately after announced as GOLD achiever.

Any questions?

Posted in Teaching Music

Band Students Make Better Employees

Hire MeBy John Gardner

Teens are looking for part-time jobs during high school. Common is the parental directive that he must at least pay the insurance and for the gas to drive the family car — or to purchase her own vehicle.

The challenge, for both the student and the employer is the complexity of band student’s schedule.

Band  students make better employees and employers find the payback for working around rehearsal and performance schedules is a win-win for the business too.

Marching bands start training right after school is out in the Spring, if not before. During these early sessions, a challenge is to keep the newbies from giving up.

After enjoying top-of-the-heap status in middle school they start high school marching band at the bottom of the section with the lowest status and the least seniority. New skill requirements include memorizing music, horn angles, posture and feet-with-the-beat. Never before have they had to endure high temperature rehearsals that last 2-3-4 hours at a time, often standing with water and restroom breaks few and far between. Everybody (directors, staff, section leaders, seniors, upperclassmen) is telling them they’re messing up and pressuring (hopefully constructively) them to “get it”. They are thrust into a whole new level of physical activity with a strict discipline code. Some will quit and most will think about it as they try to answer the question, “What did I get myself into?”

“Band will be fun. It is fun being together during the football games, on the buses for those long trips, and for hours at competitions. But before you get to the fun part, you have to pay the price…..and there is no short cut, no easy way out, no discount. Pay the price and enjoy the results.”

By the time they are old enough to get a job, they have learned to pay the price. They have seen the benefits of dedication and are willing to commit to a job. Band students won’t quit the job because the manager gives them criticism because they understand that is what makes them better. And they learn that striving for excellence is a worthy goal.

Band students understand dedication, commitment
and that striving for excellence is a worthy goal.

At the age they are joining marching band, teens are battling with balancing the reality that they are not quite adults with the increasing desire for freedom, responsibility and individuality. Some rebel against parents, push back against teachers and are super-sensitive to peer-criticism. And yet, marching band requires they give up individual freedoms for the good of the cause, makes them earn responsibility and tells them they have to look, act and behave like everybody else – uniformity.

The first time they are thrust into a fast-paced, pressurized workplace environment, teens from the general school population will be more likely to throw a tantrum, quit — or get fired. Not band students.

Band students understand the value of,
and respect for chain of command

Students are together in lots of different classroom mixes, but only for fifty minutes on school days for a semester or two. Band students can be together for 10-15 hours Monday through Thursday, plus 3 hours for a Friday night football game and 14 hours for a Saturday rehearsal/competition. Couples break up, personalities don’t mesh, they come from different parts of town and with different family and economic situations — but they learn to work together, a skill many non-band teens and a lot of adults never develop.

As I talk to teens (and even many of their parents), one of the most common reasons to quit a job is because of relationships with co-workers. Band students will be even more frustrated with the mediocrity and lack of cooperation and weak work ethic they will find in the workplace, but they will commit to making it work.

Band students know how to cooperate
and collaborate with those from
different backgrounds and capabilities.

In a part-time work environment there will be competition for hours, raises, promotions and responsibilities. The tendency is to look out for self and to heck with the other guy. Students compete within a band but they want everyone to do well. They compete with other bands but will wish them good luck as they pass on the way to the competition field. They will applaud for other bands – even those that beat them. Band students are team players and they understand sportsmanship.

Band students learn good sportsmanship.


By the time they’re ready for that first job (students usually turn 16 during sophomore or junior year), band students have already learned patience as marching band staff is teaching or fixing drill; perseverance and endurance through extreme temperatures, long rehearsals and so much more we teacher types throw at them.

They understand, through the system of seniority in most bands, that they will need to prove themselves and demonstrate strong work ethic to earn leadership positions or, when they get a job,  a raise.

Band students learn patience,
perseverance and endurance.

There is often a penalty for arriving late to a band rehearsal. When I was in a marching band, it was a lap around the field per minute late. Some bands use push-ups — or job assignments. Arrive late today and you get to take the water to the field tomorrow. And because there are always new things happening in a rehearsal, missing is never an option. Some bands will make you an alternate for an unexcused absence. So when band students get a job with a schedule, they are there — and on time.

Band students learn the value
of attendance and punctuality.

Bands rehearse scores of hours per minute of marching band show. Stretches, running and endurance exercises, fundamentals (yes, they already know how to march, right?) and then sets of drill over, and over. Do they get tired? Absolutely, but they understand the price of success and that there are no shortcuts to achieving it.

Band students learn that there are
no shortcuts to success

Most years, prior to the final competition of the season, we allow seniors to talk to the band. They say a variety of things, but there are two predominant themes: 1) Band is family, and 2) band taught them responsibility with accountability.

Band students learn
responsibility and accountability

Where, outside of public education, is the focus on making the student (or employee) feel good about themselves at the expense of excellence? We read about schools eliminating valedictorians and class rank or even grades, so lower achievers don’t get a negative vibe.  

When my child was in first grade, the education fad of the day was a program called “writing to read”, where the emphasis was on the child being able to read whatever they wrote. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc…. were not corrected. Teachers emphasized that a child reader would have a higher self-esteem.

Students who have gone through a feel-good system can hit a brick wall when they get to college or into the workforce. Good band directors instill in their students that a healthy self-esteem comes through achieving excellence. In that pursuit, however, the student learns to accept criticism from directors, staff, seniors and section leaders – and they are willing to pay the price to get the prize. Here is a post I wrote about Excellence and Self Esteem.

Band students learn that self-esteem
is raised by achieving excellence

Because of their extreme rehearsal schedules on top of homework and, especially with the responsibilities of a job, band students develop good time management skills.

Band students develop time management skills

Band students make better employees. Hire them.



Posted in How May I Serve YOU?, Job Search, Marching Band, Respect, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , ,

10 Ways To Earn Student Respect and Trust

This is my garage the day before it was being re-sided. I called it the "GGG" (Gardner, Garage Graffiti) event. They came to my house on a Saturday morning. Do you think they will remember this day? What if they had not come?

This is my garage the day before it was being re-sided. I called it the “GGG” (Gardner, Garage Graffiti) event. They came to my house on a Saturday morning. Do you think they will remember this day? What if they had not come?

Students know which teacher(s)….

  • are more interested in being popular than in providing and expecting academic excellence . Students will “like” this teacher, but will not “respect” him/her.
  • are there only for the paycheck. These are the people who deserve the quote, “those who can – do, those who can’t – teach”.
  • stopped working hard when they got tenure and are now just putting in time.
  • are incompetent. Students recognize those who read only the questions in the teacher’s edition, use publisher-provided Powerpoint presentations and read them word for word, who have artificial conversations or Q&A sessions.
  • are invested in the totality of the student, beyond what is required by the contract and mandated by administration.
  • are the go to adults for help, support and understanding with life’s struggles

“When students feel that teachers and school administrators genuinely care about them and help them to feel welcome, they are more motivated to cooperate and to succeed.” -Robert Brooks, PhD

A former student remembering her band experience wrote that,

“It is more than just about music.”

She attributed the life-skills she learned in band (time management, team building, respect for authority, commitment, self-discipline….) to have been major factors in her success in college, medical school and life.

In a Facebook message from a Music Education major;

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again and again for steering me in the right path, …! There is no way I will ever be able to give you the thanks that you really deserve, for the potential you saw in me, for the care you gave me, for the trust you put in me, and for the time and energy you invested in me! You changed a life…MINE.”

Responding to a blog post called, “I Want To Trust You”, another former student wrote;

I’m remembering a little white lie that Tina and I told you just to get out of class for a minute or two……..Unfortunately, you found out about it. I’ve never felt so guilty as when I was caught tricking YOU! You were the TEACHER to go to when things weren’t going ok. And a trusted teacher…….I was SO sorry!”

Four days before Christmas, I received a text message from a senior,

“G, I just got kicked out of my house. Please help me!”

How can teachers get past the compliance expectation and earn respect….and TRUST?

  • Be real. You can’t fake it with teens, they will see right through you. If you can’t be real, you should not be there. Please leave education.
  • Be available. How easy is it for a teen to say to YOU, “Can I talk to you?”? What if it is not during class or immediately after school? In how many different ways are you available and do students know and understand that? Do they know if it is ok to email, call, text or instant message you? When a teen says they need to talk, somebody needs be available. Be that person. Consider your use of texting and social media.
  • Be there. Yes, you’re “on duty” at school. What about when a student is in the hospital, at the funeral home, pitching in the softball/baseball game, getting baptized, being awarded Eagle Scout status, or when their garage-type band is playing at the coffee shop? Take your spouse or your kids and just be where you can when you can. They will notice.
  • Trust them. If you want trust, you need to give some. I have a periodic discussion about trust, abusing it, losing it and the difficulty in earning it a second time. Read: “I WANT To Trust You“. Teens make mistakes and the trust area is one of those places where they can mess up. But help them learn. Take a reasonable chance. Yes, you’ll get burned some….but you will also empower leaders to rise up.
  • Respect them. There is a good chance they will recognize and return it.
  • Advocate for them. Of course you have students who are financially challenged and could benefit from music lessons, a better instrument, participation in a select ensemble or some other training. You won’t always succeed, but try to find funding to help. Call the employer to help him get that job. Write a letter to help her get that scholarship. Help them with college applications their parents can’t (or won’t).
  • Listen, really listen. Teens typically think that people don’t listen. They think adults are quick to lecture, criticize and correct, but are slow to listen. You don’t always have to have the answer. Sometimes there isn’t an obvious answer. Sometimes listening is the answer, because in allowing them to share, you enable them to find their own answer. Unless they are sharing something illegal, dangerous, hear them out. Don’t argue. Don’t interrupt. Don’t pre-judge. And when you can, share your wisdom, experience, expertise and advice.
  • Expect and Encourage Excellence. Students will complain when the load is heavy and the challenge is significant, but they know, even when they won’t admit, that achieving excellence requires work. They want to achieve and succeed. Being there for them doesn’t mean lowering your standards. Make them stretch. They’ll appreciate you eventually, even if not today.
  • Don’t assume. A question I ask often is, “You okay?” Simple question….and sometimes they shrug it off, but there have been many times for me that this gives them the opening to ask for help.
  • Don’t give up. It can be difficult, disappointing and even deflating when teens mess up. Don’t give up on them. That’s what the rest of society wants to do sometimes…. They will be disappointed that they disappointed you, but your unconditional support (not approving what they do) is vitally important to them.


Sometimes I complain about my job; about the part-timeness, the pay, the union, my bosses, the financial realities, and more…. but I will ALWAYS love the teens I get to work with. They can be challenging; sometimes immature, making decisions without thinking through to the consequences of those decisions, they can love you today, hate you tomorrow and love you again the day after……, but if you’re in it for them, you’re positively impacting lives and as the commercial implies, you cannot put a price on that.

Thanks for reading,


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Posted in College Prep, Communication, Marching Band, Parenting, Social Media, Teaching, Teaching Music

Teacher to Student after Talking To Parent: Is It True?

By John Gardner (view LinkedIn Profile)

Is It TrueSometimes, engaging and talking to teens, outside the authoritative imbalance of parent/child or teacher/student is challenging. If you catch them with the wrong group of friends, they may ignore or give you the peer-pressure-influenced reaction. Or you picked the day that they just broke up or had some other type of unrelated tragedy.

Never let a less than stellar first attempt turn into a lasting negative impression.

Of course, there are those who make and even start fun, friendly conversations. Most are engaging and appreciative (even if they don’t admit it) that a teacher is showing interest in them or in what is going on in their lives.

For some of the others, what follows is one of my favorite tactics.

Read more ›

Posted in Classroom Teacher, High Schools, Music Department, Personal experience, Public Schools, Storytelling, Teaching, Teaching Music

Band = R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By John Gardner


Posted in Communication, High Schools, Marching Band, Respect, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

When you hear that students today are behind

By John Gardner

I’m not going to defend some of today’s diluted, politically correct, expanded curricula when compared to what students learned decades (or centuries) ago. The Huffington Post published this 8th grade exam from 100 years ago and ask if you could pass it today.

I don’t ever recall, as a student, having to spend school time on education on bullying or suicide prevention, tolerance, drugs, sex, active-shooter and lock-down drills. In the past few weeks, I’ve participated in mandatory teacher training on bullying. This week, students will be watching videos and signing off on them via 1-1 ipads. We provide “digital citizenship” training worth several class periods for using those free iPads we gave them. We tests to test that teacher’s tests are testing appropriate levels and that both teachers are teaching and students are learning. If you saw a high school’s “testing calendar”, it would blow your mind. And tests take the place of teaching to some degree.

On the other hand, WHAT students must learn today is so much more complex than what we needed to know back in a previous century. Below is a good visual. It would have been much easier to learn to identify and differentiate the crayon colors available in the 1903 vs today, wouldn’t you agree?

Just sayin’.

Crayon Colors

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