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.


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.


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:


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.

17 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, 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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