Beethoven Meme

Beethoven I Dont Hear You

Posted in Teaching Music

TTU Brass Duel of the Fates from Star Wars

Another example of analog 8mm video transferred to mp4 format and imported into Youtube.

Posted in Teaching Music

Digitizing Music Find of the Day

As some of you know, I’m practicing and learning how to take old media and digitize for current use. For example, so far I can:

  • Vinyl LPs and convert to mp3 files. From there, I can
    • upload to my Soundcloud account
    • burn to CD
    • store on computer or flash drive, Dropbox or other cloud based media for sharing.
  • VHS/8mm Video Cassettes, converted to mp4 format.
    • Import into iMovie to enhance, then upload to Youtube or download enhanced file back to mp4
    • Upload to SoundCloud
    • burn to CD/DVD
    • store on computer, flash drive or cloud accounts for sharing

This is from a hand held Sony Camcorder 8mm video cassette, converted to mp4 and uploaded to youtube.

Posted in Communication, Music Performance, Personal experience, Public Schools, Social Media, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Private lessons can be like paying for college…1 week at a time

By John Gardner

Private LessonsA few years ago I was sitting in the driveway of my son’s trumpet teacher writing out a check.

The teacher had requested going from a half hour lesson to an hour. I recall the teacher’s response when I asked if there was a discount for the double-session…..

You get me for twice the time at twice the price.

As I wrote out the check, I shared a sentiment with my son,

I consider this an investment in your college career. I hope I am paying for your college one week at a time….and by the time you’re ready to graduate that you will be good enough that a college will pay for you.

He worked — and his did. This video is a portion of his senior recital. He had the flashy stuff too, but I thought his tone was fantastic….. I had the honor of guest conducting his high school band, which accompanied him on this same piece during his high school final semester.

Private lessons (coaching / mentoring) provides much more than that…

…even for students who will NOT be majoring in music in college. Read more ›

Posted in College Prep, High Schools, Solo Prep, Teaching, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , ,

“Tell My Father”

These memories came rushing back a few days ago when Joan mentioned an area show choir that used the solo, “Tell My Father” in their show.

Son David sang this solo in several show choir solo competitions his senior year in high school (2001). It is an emotional solo from the musical “Civil War” about a son asking someone to “Tell My Father” about his death on the battlefield.

To increase the impact, David borrowed a reenactor Civil War uniform. He wouldn’t let me hear the song until he performed it.  I remember the first time I saw him walk toward the competition room, in “full uniform”….he walked, pridefully, in total character and ignoring stares from other students in the hallways. Dressing in ‘costume’ was not a common thing for solos.

And the first time he walked on stage, he confidently and effectively commanded audience reverence and respect. Each time he finished, it felt like there was an ever so slight gap, prior to applause, where the audience was wiping tears and unsure if applause was appropriate, especially after the final line.

After one of his performances, I heard a couple girls from another school talking in the hallway:

“I just heard this guy dressed in a Civil War uniform sing a song to his father and it made me cry.”

It made me, David’s father, cry every time.

Here are the lyrics:

Tell my father that his son
Didn’t run or surrender
That I bore his name with pride
As I tried to remember
You are judged by what you do
While passing through

As I rest ‘neath fields of green
Let him lean on your shoulder
Tell him how I spent my youth
So the truth could grow older
Tell my father, when you can
I was a man

Tell him we will meet again
Where the angels learn to fly
Tell him we will meet as men
For with honour did I die

Tell him I fought the blue
Proud and true, through the fire
Tell my father so he’ll know
I love him so

Tell him how I wore the gray
Just the way that he taught me
Tell my father not to cry
Then say goodbye


Posted in High Schools, Music Department, Personal experience, Show Choir, Solo Prep, Teaching Music Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Digitizing Music as a Booster Profit Center

I recently made a video (below) to send to a group of Band Parent officers prior to a board meeting. I offer it for consideration from two perspectives:

  1. Consider the concept.
  2. Consider the technology for presentation:
    • Created Powerpoint Presentation
    • Imported into iMovie
    • Added voice over and background music
    • Exported to Youtube
    • Shared the youtube link

Share feedback at will…..please.

Posted in Band as a Business, Business strategies, Fundraising, How May I Serve YOU?, Income Opportunity, Monetizing, Music Department, Small Business, Virtual Assistant, Virtual/Local Services Tagged with: , , , , ,

Modesty speaking

Below is a Facebook post from a former student, now a successful professional and parent of successful high school and college age children….

KC Facebook Post on Modesty

In less than 24hrs, there were 160+ likes and reactions and many comments. Here is my posted response.

“…and sometimes, when the parents fail they put it in the laps of teachers to have some sometimes incredibly awkward conversations. Not too long ago I got a nice note from a girl I had one of those conversations with several years ago. She is now a college grad, married and with a good job….and she thanked me for what she knows was an uncomfortable talk — when I, apparently with some success, encouraged her to hold herself to a higher standard than just what she could “show”. That’s a dangerous conversation for a teacher to have with a teenage student, btw. But I haven’t been fired yet.”

What Say YOU?

Quote Emma Watson

Posted in Guest Post, Parenting, Personal experience, Storytelling, Teaching Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

S-Steps to Success

By John Gardner

At the end of my first semester at HNHS, I gave a “talk” at the Band Banquet Awards….. At first, I was going to update it with what is outdated or different……but have decided instead to print it (almost) as I said it 9 years ago.

Rookie Run Down

From my perspective, the best thing going for this band is THIS BAND. The work ethic is good. These guys will do just about anything we ask, almost without grumbling. They have all been respectful to me. As the principal says, we have a great clientele of students here.

The NEXT BEST THING GOING for this band are THE PARENTS. There are the dedicated people on the uniform committee; measuring, altering, touching up, repairing when the fence tears a hole in the sleeve or touching up dirty shoes – and dealing with those who forgot socks, or shoes, or uniform. There is the Pit Crew that loads, unloads and transports all our equipment. The Food Committee waters the band after every performance and sometimes feeds them twice in a day.

As Bill Clinton said in a church service, “I like it here – and I don’t wanna leave.” 

S-Steps To Success

more below the poster……


After a Band Parent meeting, a group of people made an encouraging request.

“Tell us what you need and let us see what we can do.”

I’ve generalized my goals into three major categories – and they all start with ‘S’. I’m calling them my “Sssss-Steps to Success”.

#1 – Super Size

The FIRST thing we need to do is to SUPER SIZE this band. Size doesn’t equal sound – but it certainly helps!

We need to Search for Super Sizers. 

You can help. Be enthusiastic about your band. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Pit people (front sideline ensemble) don’t have to be band members. Your friends who play piano can play mallet instruments. People who quit band in the past can come back. And then, without taking anything away from what it takes to be a percussionist, we can teach just about anybody how to hit something.

We currently have a lot of people in the high school bands who do not march.

You need to Stay to be Seniors.

I’d love to see the school or community have to deal with

  • a marching band that can’t fit in the band room.
  • having to buy uniforms because we don’t have enough.
  • scrambling to get instruments and equipment for the people we have to use them.
  • pull into competition parking lots with 5 or 6 busses.

#2 – Sensational Sound

SECOND, you should Strive for Individual Success.

If you become the best that YOU can be, then we can work to blend your individual abilities to improve the overall band. A super-sized band can give us more sound, but we need your individual improvement to enable us to play some of the more challenging types music we heard this past fall.

Study Seriously for Improvement.

You should consider Individual Study on your instrument. If you can pay, we have access to professional experts on every instrument. They absolutely make a difference. For less pay, we can connect you with some college students who are looking for some experience.  And if you can’t pay, let us know, because some teachers will make allowances for hard-working students.

Instruments need to go home. There are no shortcuts. Proficiency requires practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it certainly helps.

Your Individual Level of Musical Success depends on a combination of

  • your God-given musicianship
  • the training you receive
  • the equipment you use and
  • the commitment you have

#3 – Sizzling Show

FINALLY, we need a SIZZLING SHOW, and it won’t come cheaply.

We need Spectacular Music.

We need Stunning Drill Design.

We need Superb Special Effects.

We need Splendid Style.

We need State-of-the-Art Equipment.

You give us what we need in people, equipment, work ethic and attitude – and we’ll take some major steps toward BIGGER success.

I like it here.

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



Another news article of a 12-yr old girl committing suicide as a result of bullying shows up in my news feed. On the same day, after reading my post, “Bullying, Band and Best Practices“, a mother comments:

(NOTE: This is not a local parent or comment….. 

“My son was mercilessly bullied in band and is still the brunt of trashy rumors after he graduated. Their excuse: “It was mandated by a section leader, we were told to destroy him so he doesn’t even think about applying for the Band scholarship, it’s just for fun–there’s no lasting damage, he’s retarded, right–he doesn’t get it so why does it hurt? He should be flattered that we are picking on him. Yes, these were all used as excuses. The problem was ignored and swept under the rug. Now, my child is distraught, anxious, and traumatized. And his little brother has been threatened with the same or worse treatment when he comes in for being the retard, the snitch’s little brother. Parents and students alike have made threats. I was asked by a school official, “Now aren’t you ashamed that you took on the band and reported it.” My response, “No, I wish I had done it sooner.” Still fighting this garbage and just exhausted with it.”Sad boy

The beginning illustration in “Bullying, Band and Best Practices” IS a local story.

These BULLYING / SUICIDE STATISTICS are frightening. Click the link for the article, but here are a few that stand out:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher
Sad teenage girl
These real life stories (with pictures) should break your heart.
Posted in High Schools, Personal experience, Repost, School Security, Teaching Tagged with: , , , ,

Organizing your Band Music Library

By John Gardner

When the local high school band director of 40 years (yes, graduated college, accepted a teaching position and spent his entire career in the same room with the same office and same desk) retired. One of the things he left was the music library software on his 1980’s vintage Apple computer. After multiple attempts by collegiate techno-types to transfer the data into a newer Apple format proved unsuccessful, we went a different route and have successfully transferred the data to a new program. In the process of doing that, I wanted to find how other directors organized their libraries and after some email and facebook responses, the following includes a compilation of that feedback.

Software Used

  • Spreadsheet 
    • Google docs. The free spreadsheet was the most common answer.
    • Open Office spreadsheet. OpenOffice, from Apache, is a free set of programs that compete directly with the Microsoft Office products.
    • Microsoft Excel. Didn’t hear this as much as I expected as people were opting for the free versions.
  • Database Software. The only specific response was Microsoft’s Access. Google docs and Open Office have competitive offerings. The advantage to a database program is that you can create more analysis, searching and reporting with a database program, but the downside is that most of those, especially if you must design it yourself, is that you have to really know what you’re doing.
  • Charms. This was the overwhelming choice from those who pay for a tool. It does much more than just maintain a library. Charms offers modules for keeping track of finances, including individual student accounts, has a way to text and auto-call from internal lists, includes a recording studio, includes music library, mobile ap, interactive calendar and more. Check out CharmsOffice here. Cost is @$300/yr. Those who use it, love it.
  • MyMusicOffice.comAn online program with levels of access by parent organization, treasurer.


  • Title. If you’re going to use a spreadsheet and want good searchable data, you should think thorough some of the naming conventions you want to use, such as:
    • Abbreviations. Arranged vs Arr., Christmas vs Xmas. Whatever you use, be consistent.
    • “Selectons from”… is it “Selections from XYZ Movie” or “XYZ Movie; Selections From?
  • Subtitles. If you are playing an arrangement from the movie “Wicked”, do you list the individual titles included in this collection?
  • Composer. Last/First name. If you are using separate name fields, ok. If putting into one spreadsheet box, I recommend Last name [space] First name. As the owner of a data entry company, I am all about finding ways to save keystrokes and, over time, each one matters. Forget the comma. Don’t do all caps. All caps would save you using the caps button, but it is harder to read all caps.
  • Arranged / Transcribed / Edited by. To save fields and data, I suggest adding to the composer field, in which case, abbreviations are important.
  • Publisher / Date. Can be helpful if needing to reorder parts or additional scores for contest judges.
  • Ensemble. Marching, Concert, Jazz, Pep, Solo/Ens, etc.
  • Last performed. All the times performed?
  • Tempo/Style. Slow, overture, folk tune.
  • Type. Holiday, festival, contest, pop.
  • Ranking/Difficulty Level.
    • SmartMusic(R) uses JW Pepper’s ranking system of (B)eginner, (VE) Very Easy, (E)asy, (ME)Medium Easy, (M)edium, (MA)Medium Advanced, (A)dvanced.
    • Use the difficulty levels defined by your state. In Indiana Group I is highest difficulty and Group V is considered Middle School beginning level. If you do not have this, some of the music publishers, including JW Pepper, have the state lists for many states. Or your state organization should have yours on their site.
  • Comments/Notes. Missing 2nd Cornet part, or that one thing you wished you had known about this piece before you started it this time — because you’ll likely forget that by the time you play it again.
  • File ID
    • Single number. Not recommended.
    • Alpha+Number, i.e. A-23, where alpha can be either title or composer.
    • Drawer + File, i.e. 15-5 means the 5th file in drawer #15. This is my preference.

Organize Library by:

Alphabetical by Title, separated by season. The local university band library is set up this way. Separate sections for Christmas, Marches (used to have a Sousa-festival), Basketball, Orchestra, Methods classes.


Simple and does not require a catalog program/file.


If you don’t know what you are looking for, it can be pretty miscellaneous.

When a drawer or shelf fills up, you must shift, which can be really bad if the overstuffed drawer is toward the beginning.

Separated by major ensemble types, but then numbered with Drawer and File number. My current school’s library has separations for Method books, Jazz Band, Pep Band and everything else.


Random searching….if you want newer stuff, you go to the higher drawer numbers.

When one drawer fills, just start another one.

If you eventually free up space in a lower drawer number (throwing away old music), you can add a new item there.

Efficient use of space.


Can’t find a piece by title or type without looking it up.

Misc Feedback:

  • Used the software to generate labels for the music.
  • I also have categories in “tempo” “style” where I might label something as “slow” or “overture” or “folk tune”, etc. This is super useful…when I’m looking for “slow” music, I can just have the excel spreadsheet sort to slow and voila! There they are.
  • I also have an arranger category, and a “music type” category (holiday, festival, pops, etc.).
  • I have mine organized by ensemble (HS band, MS band, Jazz band, choir by voicing, and solo/ensemble music), so each one is its own spread sheet. I have title, style, difficulty, composer/arranger, Publisher and date, and cost. If my school burns down tomorrow, I can get reimbursed for everything in my library.

Need help?

Are you able to “search” for example, for an advanced piece for concert band that you haven’t played for three years? Have you kept it up to date? Then it sounds like you’ve got things going well and you don’t need me.

Are you still using a card catalog? Are you using a file format that you need to transfer to something new? Do you want to add categories (from the list above or similar)? And is YOUR time completely maxed out with teaching classes? I can help.

In 1984 I started a data entry services operation in a specialized vertical market…..but I have, and have access to, accurate transcribers and data entry staff who can take on such a project. OR… I can set something up so that YOUR people can do the data entry.

Contact me at and we can set a time to discuss it.


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Posted in High Schools, Repost, Teaching Music, Virtual Assistant Tagged with: ,


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