Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hey Band!!!

I hope that all of you had a fantastic weekend. All of your band directors started our extensive professional development this morning to help create great virtual learning experiences for each of you in a couple of weeks when we come back to school. Just as we were telling all of our band family during virtual band camp… “Different doesn’t mean worse”. Although this is not the situation we all expected for us to be in this Fall, we can make the Fall a special experience if we all work together!

With that in mind, I wanted to share a little bit about what our students participated in during Virtual Band Camp. Here is a breakdown of what your incredible band students did over the past two weeks of Virtual Band Camp…

  • Students met over 120 other band students from different middle schools, different backgrounds, different instruments, etc
  • Students engaged in small group discussions with their sections, bonding over common interests and mutual experiences
  • Students participated in “Summer Band Olympics” where each section of the band competed in different events to earn points. Events included…
    • Theme Days
    • Photo Challenges  
    • Online “Tag-Pro” Tournament
  • Students participated in “Workouts With Washington”, where students participated in workouts with our colorguard director, Mr. Herbert Washington. These included the students learning our group body warm up routine to the song “Cantaloop” by Us3.
  • Students participated in “Masterclass Monday’s”, where students participated in smaller, breakout rooms with our amazing private lesson staff. Students received more individualized instruction in these groups, as well as more specialized teaching to their specific instrument.
  • Students learned many of the Visual Skills that they would have learned via in-person camp through the use of video examples put together by the Leadership Team, and received feedback on all of their submissions from their leadership team member through a web-based video program called “FlipGrid”.
  • Students learned many of the Musical Skills that they would have learned via in-person camp. These skills were taught to brasses by Mr. Mayer, and woodwinds by Mr. East and then submitted to the online platform, “SmartMusic”. This platform also provides the students immediate feedback in their performance, by displaying within the programs what rhythms and notes that they played correctly and incorrectly.  Drumline had their weeklong drum camp, and began using the FlipGrid app to upload videos of progress on exercises and show music.
  • Students participated in “Wisdom Wednesdays with Mr. East.” This was an informal, casual setting where Mr. East provided some questions and topics related to Wisdom, Intelligence, Attention, and Creativity. Students answered questions in the whole group, or in the chat, or in breakouts rooms. It was a really fun way for students to get to know each other and Mr. East, and to stimulate some conversations that will hopefully be ongoing throughout the year, and beyond.
  • Students were provided the opportunity to “Ask Any Question To The Band DIrectors Session.” Band directors shared information about their family, upbringing, life experiences, and band experiences with the students. Resulting in relationship building with participating band members, including getting to know Mr. Williams, our new band director.
  • Members received dynamic and valuable virtual leadership training over a 2-day period with one of the best music educators in the country, Dr. TeAndre Fagin. These sessions were phenomenal and presented leadership insights that resulted in student engagement and adding to their leadership skill sets for band and in everyday life. 
  • Members had a chance to interact with a professional musician in our field, the music director of the Broadway hit Hamilton, Mr. Ian Weinberger.  Students learned how he began his career, and how it evolved throughout his various experiences and opportunities that came his way.  They also had a chance to get some ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge about how things on Broadway work.
  • The color guard spent some time enriching our experience through participating in virtual dance class throughout the week, working on technique, watching world class level color guard and musicals on video, learning new physical workout skills to help improve our overall agility in guard, having a history “watch” lesson on our LBJ band and winter guard, and learning new choreography to produce a video coming soon!

We all know that this is a DIFFERENT experience to past years of marching band, but what I have been so impressed with over the past two weeks, was the camaraderie and connections that the students made with both each other, and with the staff. Even though this was a different avenue for summer band, I could still tell that students were bonding, building relationships, and starting to understand why we always refer to the band as a “family”.

The directors are so immensely proud of ALL of the students who participated in our Virtual Summer Band Camp! Over the next couple of weeks, we will be putting together a compilation video to show off some of the fun activities that the students participated in over Virtual Summer Band, and will send out (or stream online) as a “Virtual Ice Cream Social”. And yes… everyone will be required to be eating a pint of ice cream while watching, haha. More to come on this soon!

Mr. Mayer