Casual Retard – or Gradual Ritard

I was rehearsing one of the concert bands on Pep Band music. This particular ensemble tends to lose tempo. To reinforce my point, I started them with a metronome — and then stop directing. After some time, I would restart the metronome. I described what they were doing:

“Sounds like a gradual ritard. You’re slowing down.”

No one in the ensemble said anything and I gave it no additional thought.

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But then, one of the building admins confronts me about a parent call. Parent was upset because daughter came home telling him I said they were retarded.

I asked if the Admin had a quote of what I was accused of saying. She pulls out a piece of paper reads;

“Sounds like a casual retard slowing down.”

Admin instructed not to confront the student, but to talk to the band.

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Following is my followup with the band…

One of the agenda items on the board was “music term of the day” and next to it was:

Ritardando
Ritard.
Rit.

I asked the ensemble what those three terms mean.

Numerous correct answers.

Then I asked them to think back to the pep band music rehearsal last Tuesday — and I asked them what the overall group’s problem was (especially) that day…..

[We were slowing down]

Good answer.

Then, I shared the quote I was accused of saying…..

“I didn’t record myself, and I don’t think I said the word casual because that just doesn’t sound like something I would say. But let’s go with that for now. If I used any form of those three terms in the context of last week’s rehearsal, what do you think I was saying?”

[That we were slowing down.]

Good answer.

Now, let me tell you what I absolutely didn’t say — and would NEVER say….. I was NOT calling you retarded.

[Collective eye roll and OMG kinda responses.]

One four year ensemble member, said….

“You would never say that.”

We went on to talk about what should have happened….. That if/when I said something that an individual thought was offensive, out of line, or even unclear — that this individual should come and talk to ME first.

[Collective yes nods.]

And that if your parent needs to call someone, who do you think they should call FIRST?

Good answer.

Then…we went on into rehearsal. I responded to the Admin the results of our conversation. Admin calls the father to explain Italian music terms….and all is well.

15 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don’t add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today’s teenage achievers and with those who work with them.

Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting – specializing in school product fundraising.

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