The band just finished physical warm-up and is setting up for chart 1. The director, who has been discussing rehearsal strategy with the field staff, is walking toward the field to address the band and begin the rehearsal. A parent catches him at the sideline. The brief encounter becomes extended. The director tries multiple times to politely excuse himself. Doesn’t work. The assistant phones the director, who signals the parent that he has to take the call…. Starts again toward the band. Parent follows…..
Would you approach your pastor during the hymn just before the sermon….and continuing your discussion in view of the congregation after the hymn ends and they awkwardly await their local shepherd?
And you can’t, thankfully, approach your pilot as the plane is landing or taking off — a time when you want the pilot focused on the task at hand, right?
What about the coach just prior to the kick-off or tip off – or either of them as the players complete their warm-ups and are ready to practice?
It wouldn’t be wise to demand a conversation with your child’s fast food employer manager during the lunch rush, right?
What about the school principal as he/she is getting ready to start a faculty meeting?
Similarly, there are some times that you should NOT ask for extended amounts of your band director’s time for non-critical issues:
Just before – or during a rehearsal. You probably have 1-2-3 children to monitor. A band director may have 100+. Here are some typical things a director hears from students just prior to a rehearsal (most directors will say they’ve heard these in the past two weeks):
- I broke my reed
- I broke my mouthpiece
- My mouthpiece is stuck
- I need another ligature screw
- This pad, cork, felt – is missing and my horn isn’t playing right
- My 2nd valve slide fell out (between pre-game and halftime)
- I forgot my horn
- I forgot my music
- I forgot my inhaler
- My mom says…
- My dad says…
- When is….
- I have to leave early
- I can’t play – look at this
- My carrier is broke
- Is it ok if…
- I didn’t know…
- Did you know [insert name] did [insert hard-do-believe accusation]
- Are you going to let…
- When did you tell us…
- How come…
- It’s not fair that…
- I can’t find my show shirt
- I can’t find my socks
- I can’t find my shoes
- I can’t find my instrument
- Someone took my neckstrap
- Someone took my water bottle
- Someone took my music
- Someone got into my instrument locker
- Someone used my instrument
- I need to pee
- I need a band-aid
- I need to see the nurse — and please don’t ask why
- May I use the restroom
- May I get a drink of water
- I have the hiccups
- Do you have anything for a headache
- Do I have to play today – I have a headache
- Do I have to play today – look at this blister
- Do you have a screwdriver
- Do you have a pair of pliers
- Do you have any valve oil
- My [insert note name - or instrument] won’t play
Getting ready to leave for a competition (or just before performance). In addition to the above, as a marching band prepares to travel, there are also decisions to be made with parent volunteers:
- Can [child] ride home with me
- Can [name] ride the bus
- [Name] forgot [item] and we don’t have [spare, right size]
- [Name] had a flat tire and will be here – late
- [Name] got scheduled to work
- Uniforms when/where?
- Which plumes?
- ….and a whole host of other performance and procedural issues
To be clear, you should NEVER hesitate to approach any teacher with safety, health or other critical issues related to a student. But here are some hints of when it may NOT be a good time to approach about your child’s dentist appoint coming up in two weeks, a complaint about what the parents fixed the band for lunch at the last competition, a question about when the Christmas concert is (during marching band), about your child’s playing test grade from two weeks ago, or any immature parent-drama about who is getting along (or not) with who…
- when you see six students also waiting to see director (see above list)
- when the band is on the rehearsal field, standing at attention, waiting for instruction
- when the director is looking through music scores or making notes while listening to a judge’s critique
Instead of just before a rehearsal, consider 30 minutes before — or even just after, as the director is waiting for students to leave? Consider an email or a phone message asking for a call. If leaving a voice message, provide enough information that he/she will know the nature of the call, but don’t put the entire story into voice mail.
Or, to really keep it simple – just be aware, considerate and respectful. That should work.
Thanks for reading.