Well, gang, it's that time. Band camp is coming up, Mr. Jerashen is here and ready to go, and you have a phenomenal show and new director waiting to have a fantastic year! I just finished up band camp at my new school, and although it was tough and interesting new challenge, I'll always think back and embrace all of the things you taught me (yes, us teachers still learn everyday, too!)
Now, if you'll allow me, I wanted to share a letter I had written back at the end of the school year--some thoughts for Mr. Brandon Jerashen, as he comes in ready to take on the challenge of pushing this band to the next level. There are some thoughts in here that I have only shared with a close few up until this point and this will officially be my last post as I hand over this platform to Mr. Jerashen.
I had written this letter shortly after I had accepted the new position and all of the tough emotions and moments that were yet to come as we go through this transition. So, if you would allow me, I'd like to share this with you as my last post on here. Good luck this year and we'll definitely see each other in the future!
Dear New Band Director,
I know coming into a new job you may not know what to expect, what kinds of issues you’ll find, what kinds of students, parents, and administrators will either help you or make your life more difficult. But I wanted to take a quick minute and share with you my experience here at Tawas over the last 8 years.
The first few years I made a bunch of rookie mistakes. I wasn't very organized, I was just out of college, and I wasn't used to juggling so many different responsibilities. In return, I received nothing but parent complaints, behavior issues, and student frustration. And a few years in, I almost threw in the towel. There are plenty of easier things that one can do in return for a paycheck. However, as my first group of 6th graders that I started in band got older, I began to see what being in band is really about and what my role what my role is as band director.
I pushed myself as a director to grow and develop my weak areas, became more of a coach and mentor for the students and not just a baton waver and note checker. As I began making being in band more about the experience, this program began to grow, the kids become more enthusiastic, and they put their heart and souls into the program just like I did.
And when they do that, you are set! They will do anything and everything that you ask of them, rise to any challenge, support one another, care for each other, and really become A BAND.
And this, my friend, is what you are inheriting. I leave these kids, these wonderful, amazing, talented, giving, hard working, and loving children, in your capable hands. Don’t squander the first few years because this isn’t your ideal job and don't treat this as simply a stepping stone. These kids are ready to run and demonstrate their talents and hard work. Just because the band room isn’t perfect, the support from above isn’t always there like you may hope, the funds may not always be available, the performance facilities aren’t ideal… it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s all about them and where you can take them. What they get to experience with you. And that is how you will build your legacy.
This first band camp is one of the most important moments for them this year. It’s where you will define the relationship you have with them. One thing that took me years to figure out is that they are all different, they all have different goals, and aspirations when it comes to music. You need to treat them differently. The ones that want to be pushed, push them and challenge them. The ones that just enjoy being in band for the experience and camaraderie---they need a place to serve as well, within their skill level and their musical capacity.
Most of all, enjoy them all right from the beginning. I knew leaving that it will difficult finding a group of students that are as talented and bright as these kids. Tawas truly is unique. And unfortunately, when I first started here no one told me that. I’m telling you that now. Put your heart into this program and you will be rewarded with seeing some amazing students succeed and at the end of the year come up and thank you for all that you have done.
Take care of these kids for me. I say that knowing that very, very soon they will be your students and your band. But this group that we had this past year, 2016-2017, they will always be my kids and a part of my life. Cherish each child that sits down in your room. Each musical moment, each performance, each joke shared in this room, means so much to each child and student. Don’t take the responsibility lightly and don’t back down from the challenge.
Thank you for all for everything. You will always be family to me.