Monday, April 9, 2018

Retirement Update

As we search for my replacement, the last month has been a whirlwind of looking at resumes, screening, and interviewing candidates.  The search culminated the Monday before break, with the three final candidates conducting the Concert Band in some sight reading and rehearsal (and even a little Q&A with the kids).  

An outstanding team of educators and parents (and parent/educators) participated in the process of an initial screening round, interviewing six preliminary candidates, and then the final round of interviews mentioned above. Mr. DeKuiper, Mr. Voss, and Mrs. Knoth had one more interview right before break with the person the team chose.

Each of the final candidates brought something high quality to the podium.  They possess varying levels of experience in many ways - musically, educationally, etc.  ALL are highly-qualified and would fit into the ZPS Performing Arts team easily.

I am pleased and excited to announce that the new ZHS Director of Bands will be Mr. Pujan Bhattarai (rhymes with "Atari" - like the game system), most recently of Michigan State University and East Kentwood HS.

Here's the thing:  Mr. Bhattarai is a new teacher.  I know that one of the first things we talked about as a staff and administration, both with students and parents, is that "we aren't going to go out and hire some rookie" (I believe that is exactly how I put it, even).  Well, I can tell you that, after seeing this young man in action in front of my group, he is more than capable of handling this job.  Immediate connections with the students, a mature and commanding presence on the podium, and a level of technique and ideas far beyond his years.  I was very impressed, as were the committee members and the students; he was overwhelmingly the students' first choice on the anonymous survey we had them take.

I have every confidence that he will be an outstanding educator and will do an amazing job here.  He comes highly recommended from all who know him, including my son Nathan, who went to school with him at MSU - "yeah, dad, he's the real deal.  Definitely something special, and everyone here knows it."  Mr. Good and Mrs. Bier are also very excited about him, and are looking forward to adding him to the team.

Mr. Bhattarai will be making his presence known as much as possible for the rest of the year.  He is still under contract at East Kentwood, but they are very flexible and are excited that he has the opportunity to take over this program.  He will be at our concert this Sunday, which will give the parents and students a chance to meet him afterward.  

Following his appearance Sunday, our goal is to get him involved and acclimated to the program and how it operates before I end the year.  Maybe we will even be able to convince him to march in a parade or two with us!

Thank you so much for your support on this.  I know there will be some transition things, probably some growing pains, but I also know that this young man will be an outstanding educator one day, and I am so happy to have him take the reins from me and move the program forward.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Early Spring Updates

We are about four weeks away from spring break, which is hard enough to believe, but I am also counting down into the 50s for the number of days left in my teaching career!  So many memories over 31 years of teaching, but those will have to wait for another day...  I thought I would send a quick update of all of the things to expect over the next few weeks before and right after break.

MONDAY, March 12 - Chamber Music Night in the DeWitt lobby.  We will be performing a brief concert of chamber music as a preview for State Solo and Ensemble Festival, which happens on March 17.  We will start at 7:00 p.m. and the evening will include several solos and small ensembles who will be performing at State on Saturday.  Coffee and cookies will be served.  All are invited.

SATURDAY, March 17 - State S&E at Portage Northern HS.  Times are posted on Google Classroom so far; a hard copy of the schedule, maps, etc. will be handed out as soon as we receive the final info from PNHS.

SATURDAY, March 24 - The ZHS Jazz Ensemble Guest Artist Series Concert.  This is always a very popular concert in the year, and this year several guests will be joining the band on stage.  Chris Vadala, the saxophone player for the Chuck Mangione group back in the day, and Vince DiMartino, trumpet virtuoso, will both be back this year, along with Chris Janowiak on piano.  ZHS alum Jordan VanHemert has written a special arrangement for the band for this concert.  $10.00 all seats.  7:00 p.m. start time in DeWitt.

TUESDAY, March 27 - ZHS Percussion Ensemble spring concert.  See the percussion in all of their musical glory without the band in front of them.  7:00 p.m. in DeWitt, admission is free.  Several selections featuring dozens of instruments will be presented, including solos, small ensembles, and large ensembles.  

SUNDAY, APRIL 15 - ZHS Bands Spring Concert.  The Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble will present a concert featuring video game music at 2:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  We will also take some time to recognize our graduating seniors at this performance.  (There will most likely be an after-school rehearsal with the percussion the week before this concert to ensure that it all comes together.  Details TBA.)

A quick update on retirement things:

Next Tuesday, March 13, we will be interviewing five potential replacements for me.  These are all highly-qualified individuals, with a wide range of teaching experience.  I am very confident that we will find a person who is the right fit from this pool of applicants.  Following Tuesday's interview, we will most likely bring a couple of finalists in for a second round of interviews, which will include some podium time in front of Concert Band and Wind Ensemble.  It may also include a student/parent representative on the interview team; more details will follow as needed.  

It's been a great 26 years here, and I have many great memories.  I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life!

Monday, February 19, 2018

February Concert Details

At last year's annual calendar meeting we thought about trying to get the HS concert bands to be able to perform at three concerts instead of the usual two, and things worked out basically OK for that.  "Basically" because the February 25 concert will be at Lokers Auditorium at Cityside instead of DeWitt due to scheduling issues.

This brings up a few logistics issues that I am hoping to work out by the 25th...  These are mostly audience capacity issues, since Lokers only holds about 450 people.  I think we will be OK with seating capacity as long as the band kids are actually not in the seats watching each other, though, so we are going to see what happens!

This concert will be for Concert and Symphonic bands only; Wind Ensemble will be doing a different performance venue at our elementary schools next week.

SYMPHONIC BAND should report to the stage at Lokers at 1:25 on Sunday afternoon.  We will do a brief warmup on stage and then move to the band room prior to the concert.

CONCERT BAND should be on stage at Lokers at 1:40 p.m.  We will warm up and tune on stage and be set for the concert at 2:00.

There are five percussionists performing with us this weekend; they know who they are and what time to be where they need to be.

The logistics are coming together - the only thing that needs to be worked out is transportation for a few shared school instruments.  We will work that out as the week goes on, and your children will let you know if you need to carry a tuba or something.

We look forward to seeing you Sunday afternoon!  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Post-Break Calendar Items

Good Morning!  It's the final day of school before break, so I thought I would give everyone a heads up regarding some calendar things that are coming up in January and early February...

But before I do that, allow me to encourage you to make sure your kids bring their instruments home TODAY and PRACTICE a few times over break, please.  I know that some of you will be traveling, but the vast majority will be at home, I think, and kids will be complaining about boredom any minute now, so make them do a little woodshedding!  We have a concert ten days after we return, and they need to keep up with the material.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2:00 p.m. - 
 - Winter band concert in DeWitt Auditorium
This performance includes four of our five performing ensembles - Percussion Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble - and takes place on the main stage at DeWitt Auditorium.  There is no admission charge, but we will do our annual passing of the hat for our summer scholarship funds.  It is a required performance for all students enrolled in the classes listed above.

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 7:00 p.m. - 
 - Jazz Band combo performance
We did this performance for the first time last year, and although I didn't add it to the performance calendar for this year, the students wanted to do it again.  We will be performing in either the drama classroom or the new theater lobby space; details will be determined after break.  It will be an informal performance and include refreshments.  Since we added this to the calendar, we will cancel the February 8 jazz date.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 7:00 p.m. - 
 - The ZHS Performing Arts Department presents A Broadway Revue, featuring band, choir, orchestra, and dance
This performance will be for Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble and will feature most of the ensembles in the ZHS Performing Arts Department in a mass collaborative effort!  Details regarding tickets, etc. will be made public in January.

We hope to see all of you at these performances, and best wishes for the holiday season and the approaching new year!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Band Camp Dates!

It seems as though we think about band camp dates earlier and earlier each year, and even though I will not be here next year I wanted to make sure everything stays in place.

I wanted to make it official that Band Camp 2018 will be held at school beginning July 30 - August 3 next summer.

Short story: It's based on the date of Thanksgiving because of athletics.

Long story: The MHSAA always holds football finals on Thanksgiving weekend.  Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday of November, and in 2018 November 1 is a Thursday, making Thanksgiving November 22 (very early).  The MHSAA counts back from there for 13 weeks for football season, including playoffs and finals, and comes up with the first day that football can be in pads, etc. for full practices.  For 2018 that date is August 6 - which would traditionally be the date we start band camp.  So...  Band camp moves to July 30 to avoid conflict with athletics, which means that a fairly large percentage of our kids in band will be able to do their band camp and then their sports week without conflict.

It also means vacation plans, summer camps, jobs, etc. need to be figured out soon, and I heard from a few people that they were already booking stuff!  I made the official date change on the band website, I put it on Facebook, and this past Monday I placed it on the 2018-19 Performing Arts Department calendar along with tentative concert dates, etc.  


Thursday, November 16, 2017

DETAILS for the rest of November

Good Morning -

I was going to make this three different emails, then decided to go the blog post route, figuring that everything in one place might be a better idea.  Over the next couple of weeks we have a few fun things going on, and the following details will be important to some or all of you, depending on the event!

LES MISERABLES at Broadway Grand Rapids - Tuesday, November 21
 - If you are taking SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION, we will be meeting at the band room parking lot at 6:00 p.m. and LEAVING at 6:15.  We have three school vans for the 24 people that paid for transportation.
 - If you are driving yourself/your family to DeVos Hall, please plan to meet me in the lobby between 7:00 and 7:15 to pick up your tickets. (The show starts at 7:30, and I really enjoy my time in the theater before curtain, reading the program, checking out the pit orchestra, etc - please don't be late.) If you will need to get your tickets before Tuesday, please call Cathy Lugten at 748-3111 so she can make arrangements for you.
 - Student apparel for the evening should be at least somewhat nice - please leave the ripped jeans, etc. at home for this. 

TUBACHRISTMAS happens near the Splash Pad in downtown Zeeland on Monday, November 27, right before the Christmas parade.
 - ALL tuba and baritone/euphonium students from ZHS are "expected" to perform - please let me know if this is not possible.
 - Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Cityside band room, and will be followed by a rehearsal at 5:00 - 5:30.  
 - There is a $10.00 registration fee per participant.  This is a national event and we are an official site, and we are required to collect this fee from all participants.
 - Students may choose to purchase the TubaChristmas book of carols for an additional $20.00 - this is not required.  It is good at all TC events in the country (future ones, too), and a few students have expressed an interest.
 - Do YOU play euphonium or tuba??  Then you may join us!
Further information for all can be found here:

ZEELAND'S DOWNTOWN MAGICAL CHRISTMAS PARADE - also Monday, November 27, at 6:30 p.m.  Tuba and euphonium players will hustle back to the beginning of the parade route by Cityside after TubaChristmas happens.
 - UNIFORMS will be street clothes with marching band parkas, festive holiday headwear, and whatever decor will work on band instruments.  Color guard will be in "Ugly Christmas Sweaters" or other festive apparel for the evening.

2017 ZHSMB AWARDS NIGHT will happen as soon after the parade as possible on the 27th.  Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend as we look back on the season with some fun and serious awards and a season highlights video.  Start time ca. 7:30 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium; should last about an hour.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Happenings

Though things are farther apart and not as numerous as the first couple months of the school year, November does bring with it a few calendar items to bring to your attention and/or keep in mind.  Marching/football season is officially over as of last Friday night, but we still have the Christmas parade at the end of this month.  

Monday and Tuesday, November 5 and 6 - picture proof viewing in the band room.  North American Photo will have reps here today and tomorrow for you to come in and order picture packages, which should be ready for Christmas gifts, from 3-8 p.m. both days.

Parent/Teacher Conferences are also happening this week.  You've probably seen plenty about those, so I won't add to that.

Tuesday, November 14 - ZHS Jazz Band concert at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Admission is free for this concert as the jazz band presents music from several different eras for their first performance of the year.

Tuesday, November 21 - Les Miserables at DeVos Hall.  If you've purchased tickets for this performance, we will have them for you at the theater that night.  If you need them earlier, you must contact me in advance in order to pick them up.  More information on bus travel time will be given out at a later date.

Monday, November 27 - this is a fairly busy evening!
 - TubaChristmas begins at 4:30 p.m. with registration at Cityside and a performance downtown at 5:45 (specific details will follow, but if you would like to join, it's open to tuba, euphonium, and baritone players of all ages!).  Our tuba and euph sections will be anchoring the ensemble, and we have heard from a few community members as well.
 - The Christmas parade begins at 6:30 p.m. through the streets of downtown
 - We have added back to the calendar, by popular demand, the marching band awards night after the parade in the auditorium.  This is not a required event, but is always a fun look back at the season from band camp through festival with pictures, videos, speeches, and awards.  We could probably even figure out a way to get cookies and hot chocolate afterward...

That takes you through November as far as I can tell.  I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday - my favorite one of the year!