Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29

What a great result from Saturday!  Our score of 80.8 was the highest we've scored at the Kenowa Hills competition, and the kids did a nice job.  HUGE congratulations to the color guard for winning the guard caption in Class AA.  That felt pretty good, and they have worked very hard to achieve that - an extra rehearsal night each week plus extra time in the summer as well.  The drumline also stepped up, narrowly missing victory; they were only .5 pts behind EK.  Nice job!!  We still have lots to clean up in the next eight days, but we are well on the way to a very successful performance at MSBOA next week.

I will try to keep this as brief as possible, since there will be plenty of stuff that is the same from the last couple weeks, so here goes:

TONIGHT:  Rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  There should be nothing keeping us from starting and ending on time tonight!

Tuesday:  Color guard 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Friday: No pep assembly!!  Game report time 5:45 (a bit later than the last couple weeks - we have had ample time to rehearse).

Saturday:  Pumpkin Fest parade.  The parade begins at 3 p.m.  The original calendar has a report time of 1:30, which assumed a 2 p.m. step-off.  We will report to Cityside at 2:30 p.m.  The equipment trailer will be in the back parking lot.  The parade will take about a half hour.  Students will be dismissed from Cityside after we are done.  There will NOT be school transportation from the HS to Cityside; students must meet us there.

NEXT WEEK!!!  We are wrapping up the "regular" season next week with our biggest adjudicated performance.  MSBOA District Festival is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7.  Once again ZHS is hosting this event.  We perform at 8:30 p.m.  Following that evening, Friday, October 10 is the last regular-season home game in which the entire band will perform.  The last couple will be Track Band only.  That means that October 10 is "Senior Night," where we will recognize seniors and their accomplishments.  Following that, things will calm down considerably (whew!!), and we will begin the transition into "sit down band."  More details to follow!

That is all for now, BUT:  look for another email from me asking for volunteers for MSBOA Festival.  We need about 30-40 people to make the event a success, from band guides to folks providing some meals to parking lot attendants, etc.  Please help us put on another successful event by signing up!  We are usually able to work it out so that all parents are able to see ZHS perform, so no worries about that one.  A sign-up form will follow in an email from me momentarily.

Thanks so much for your support so far.  Here is what I told the kids on Saturday; I thought I would share it with you - as we were entering the stadium for our performance there was a break on the field between Class A and AA.  A couple of bands were using this time to go back to their buses to load equipment, etc. before the awards presentation.  I heard students from BOTH of those bands saying, as we came in, "wait, we can't leave now.  We want to see Zeeland."  Scores don't matter when you hear that from another group of kids!!

Questions?  let me know -

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week of September 22

It finally looks like a great week of weather for the marching band!  Things brightened up considerably by the end of last week, and the forecast for the next eight days or so looks perfect.  Let's do some marching band...

First of all, last Monday's damp rehearsal accomplished a lot of things.  I told the kids that except for one 20-minute period of short attention span issues that I was pretty happy with the way they handled the sloppy conditions.  As you saw on Friday night, we managed to re-set the final number and get the whole show back on the field.

This week things start getting a little more intense.  We perform in front of judges for the first time on Saturday at Kenowa Hills, we are only just over two weeks away from MSBOA Festival, and the show needs LOTS of cleaning.  I think we can do pretty well the next couple weeks, but it will require much concentration and attention to detail from every member.

Here's what's going on this week:

TONIGHT's rehearsal (6:30 - 9:00) will start here at the band room/practice field area.  We need to do some smaller section work as well as some music cleaning.  We will move to the stadium and begin there by 7:30.
     ***equipment crew: please plan on meeting us at the stadium by 8:15.  I would like to do a couple re-sets at the end of the second song so we open up more space for you to travel through.  We will do a run of the entire show at 8:35/40-ish to end the rehearsal.

Tuesday - Color guard 7:00 - 9:00

Friday: West Homecoming assembly (same deal as last week), followed by the West Homecoming game (report time Friday night @ 5:45). 

Saturday:  The Kenowa Hills Knight Time Classic.  (I occasionally get questions about the fact that this happens during the day, but it's a play on the mascot name, so now you know!)

  • Students arrive at school between 11:30 and noon to dress and load equipment
  • Buses will depart by 12:15
  • Warm-up is at 2:00 p.m.
  • Performance is at 2:30 p.m.
  • Re-load equipment after we perform (drumline, tubas, etc. - not everyone needs to do this), then head back to watch the final group
  • Depart for home ca. 3:30
  • Arrive ZHS ca. 4:30
  • There IS an admission fee, since this is a fund raiser for Kenowa's band.  I believe it's $5.00 for adults
Sometimes the question arises about our departure time - "why do we need to get there so early?"  The easy answer is that it takes a remarkable amount of time to get 200 people from one place to another!  Last Friday as we left the band room for the assembly I clocked the actual time to get the whole band out the doors and into the hallway at nearly three minutes.  Getting them out of buses, instruments out, and moving to the warm-up area is about a 15-20 minute process; I would much rather be there early so we can stay relaxed before we perform.

Another question that I get is "why do we do these contests?" First, I like the kids to get some experience in front of more than one "appreciative" audience.  It is also beneficial for them to receive feedback from judges and audience members prior to the MSBOA festival.  And finally, it's a fun show into which we've put lots of hours and effort; it's nice to perform as much as we can!

Athletic conflicts on Saturday - please let me know ASAP.  I have received at least one email so far regarding Cross Country.  In most cases students are able to complete their athletic responsibilities and then make it to the afternoon band event.  Parents end up driving, which is greatly appreciated!

Homecoming - if your child needs to be released immediately after we perform to make it to a hair/nails/whatever appointment, please plan on meeting us by the track/stadium gate on the way out of the stadium after we perform. 

I believe that covers it for this week.  Feel free to stop by rehearsal tonight and watch things improve.  No need for an umbrella this time!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week of September 15

"It's not raining 'til I SAY it's raining..."  Some of you with older students have probably heard of my famous (infamous?) saying; the last two Friday nights have certainly tested that.  Well, we're 1-1 as far as band vs. Mother Nature, though she may have won the battle this past Friday, throwing wind, rain, and cold at us all night.  For the record, your kids did a great job in adverse conditions.  And as I told them, this week is when we get down to serious business.  We are four weeks out from MSBOA Festival, and that time will fly by!  Please make sure your kids are here for Monday nights as well as any scheduled performances.  And here's a list of what's coming up:

TONIGHT: Rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Last week we had a great rehearsal, and the parking lot one-way situation seemed to work out extremely well.  (You can imagine the disaster I am waiting for tonight based on my pessimistic outlook...)
    Parents are always welcome at these rehearsals, and you may come and go as you please.  Some people enjoy watching things develop as we work, and it's always helpful for folks to see and understand the process of learning and cleaning drill.  We hope that after tonight's rehearsal that the entire show is back on the field and ready to perform on Friday night!

Tuesday, Sept. 16: Color guard practice, band room, 7 - 9:00 p.m.  I always marvel at the amount of work that goes into the color guard portion of the show.  Each year, between the pre-game and half-time shows, we use about 100 flags for 20+ guard members (the school color flags - one set for each team - are only used for pre-game, and we usually change equipment after each piece in the half-time show).  Each person is responsible for his/her equipment making it to the right place before each show as well as taking care of it afterward.  As you can imagine, with 20 teenagers and 100 pieces of equipment, that can be quite a challenge.  Jill Landes and Laura McCranner do a great job keeping track of all things guard, and I can't imagine doing this without them!  Our section leaders are always a big help as well, and this year Lydia Kamps and Hanna Raynak have stepped up to the task admirably.

Friday, September 19: 
 - Homecoming pep assembly during the day - ALL students should be participating.  There is a senior meeting for West students, so they have the option of staying out of the assembly detail.  PM Tech Center students have that option as well.
 - EAST Homecoming game.  Report time 5:45 p.m.  Things went very well this past week.  As I said above, we are planning on performing the entire show.  I will be in touch with the several folks who have volunteered to assist with moving the auxiliary carts onto the field during the show.  Shaun Macomber will be finishing up some stuff on the carts tonight (more on that later).

FUTURE dates to be aware of:
 - Saturday, September 27 - Kenowa Hills Invitational.  No official time for our performance yet, but I anticipate around 3 p.m.  Students needing to leave immediately after the performance may do so - parents may pick them up after we are done performing.  I am indeed aware that it is West's Homecoming dance that night, but students will be done in plenty of time to get all ready for the big shindig.
 - Saturday, October 4 - Pumpkin Fest parade.  Pretty sure it starts at 2 p.m., but it might be 3.  I will keep you posted.
 - Tuesday, October 7 - MSBOA District Festival, Zeeland Stadium.  This is the ONE event for which I make NO EXCEPTIONS for athletics or other activities.  Students are expected to contact their coaches well in advance to make sure they are aware of the situation.  This is our "District Final" performance, and takes precedence over almost everything.  Please contact me if there are questions.  Our coaching staffs are very understanding of this situation.

Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure of working with three dads and one student on building the five carts for our final part of the show.  Shaun and Caleb Macomber, Dale VanValkenburg, and Paul Dumbleton put in a couple hours of hard labor while I looked on appreciatively and occasionally lifted something.  We have grand plans for how these carts will be loaded, transported, and eventually pulled onto the field for the grand finale.  We'll see how that goes...  Thanks so much to the crew of builders and the crew of volunteers who will assist with them at shows.  The drummers are very excited (Sarah probably is, too, but we may never know) to get to that part of the show!

Finally, an addition to last week's post: EMAIL!  I love email.  It is by far my favorite means of communication.  It is easy to organize, since gmail has the "conversation view" system; it keeps things in front of me, since if it's in my "inbox" it means I still need to deal with it; and it makes it easy to have a written record of what I'm doing.  Voicemail has virtually none of those features!

With all of that being said, here's my general email policy: I check my email dozens of times during the day.  (I found out what a habit I have during the first week of school when the network was down - I found myself reflexively looking at my dark computer screen each time I walked into my office!)  Because I check so many times during the day, I almost never check it at night.  If you send an email after about 4 p.m., I will get to it the next day.  I try to respond within 24 hours to every email sent to me, though some do get shuffled lower in the priority list and I get to those later. 

Thanks for your understanding as we get to know each other and you let me work with your kids!  It's a great bunch so far, and I am expecting some great things.

As usual, if you have any questions, let me know -


Monday, September 8, 2014

Week of September 8

Today begins the first full week of school, and with that comes the first Monday rehearsal as well as several other things on the horizon.  This page should take you through the week:

 - Rehearsal at the stadium beginning at 6:30.
With 200 people in the group plus staff members, parents, etc. all trying to be in the same place at the same time, it is necessary for us to change how we operate at the and of rehearsal.
 - My plan is always to release kids from the stadium by 8:55 p.m. so they can be back to the building by 9.
 - The band room lot needs to have a ONE-WAY DRIVEWAY to accommodate all of the traffic.
 - Beginning TONIGHT, all traffic entering the band room lot MUST enter from the BUS CIRCLE driveway entry (northwest corner of the lot).  The drive on the northeast corner will be EXIT ONLY.
 - It will work BEST if ALL TRAFFIC enters and exits in one big loop - from the bus drive to the band lot to the northeast exit and TURNS RIGHT to get out, but that may not be critical to the success of the plan.
 - This system obviously presents the problem of who is in line where, etc.  Please don't all try to jam into the parking lot as you wait and then try to exit all at once.  My suggestion (based on my discussions with the ZPD) is that you wait in the bus circle or by the cornfield across from the parking lot until your son/daughter is in the car with you and then make your exit.  This may mean that you do end up exiting left or right out of the bus circle on the way home, but my ZPD consultant didn't think this would be a huge problem.  We believe that the only thing completely necessary is the "exit only" status of the northeast drive.
 - Confused?  Try heading for the main lot in the front of the building, where the traffic is easier to deal with.  (This may end up being our best choice in the long run!)
THANKS in advance for your cooperation!!

Tuesday, September 9 - Color Guard rehearsal 7-9 p.m.

FRIDAY, September 12 - FULL BAND TAKE TWO...
 - West is the home team this week (I think the calendar says East, but it really doesn't matter - we just have to make sure we play the right school song!)
 - Same drill as last week - 5:45 in uniform, pre-game, half-time, dismissal.  NO RAIN!!

FUTURE dates:
 - Monday nights: Sept. 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6
 - KENOWA HILLS Knight Time Classic, Saturday, September 27 (this is now a firm date - time for our performance TBA)
 - Pumpkin Fest Parade - Saturday, Oct. 4
 - MSBOA Marching Band Festival - Tuesday, Oct. 7

Thanks for your efforts thus far - last Friday was certainly an exercise in frustration, but in the long run I believe it was the best decision we could have made under the circumstances.



Welcome to the ZHS Band blog, your source of all the vital information you can think of!  At least that's the plan...  Here's the first installment for 2014-15.

So that I don't have to completely reinvent the wheel, I will direct you to LAST year's opening blog post so you can read the general ideas.

There have been a couple of minor changes from the above link: I did indeed end up doing a volunteer form and a few other things via the blog post, but otherwise most "immediate" communications are done via email with no link to the blog.  The biggest reason for a permanent blog site is so I can keep a more permanent record of information for people to check out.  If you lose an email, the blog is still here.  If you miss an email and ask me for the info again, I can just direct you here rather than finding the original, copying/pasting, etc.  You get the idea.

One thing I have decided to do much more with this year is Twitter.  Lots of people have it and use it.  I have it, but don't really use it.  So I figured I would do more this year.  One of the reasons I started the account several years ago was for emergency communications - we canceled the Memorial Day parade one year and it was very difficult to get in touch with everyone quickly.  Maybe Twitter can change that - I tried it Friday night when we canceled the band performance.  Please follow @zhsband if you would like to read my tweets.  I promise not to be terribly annoying!

Here are some important links for your future reference:
 - The HS bands' main page:  This page contains calendar links, parent and student info, such as:

  • the Parent Pages: announcements, contact information, future band camp dates, link to our Scrip fund raiser, etc.
  • Student Pages:  Specific information for each band, scales/exercises/other online music, fingering charts for all instruments.  Students will become very familiar with these pages as we post listening examples, download music, etc.
  • the Calendar.  Speaks for itself.  Google, Word, and PDF files available.  You can actually link the band calendar to your Google account, and it will show up on your device!  (When you are looking at the Google calendar online, click the "+ Calendar" button at the bottom right corner and it will add to your account.
  • Other ZPS Performing Arts links, music links for half time and pre-game, and tons of videos, pictures, etc.  Go explore!
  • My email address - - is the best way to contact me.  
 - The ZPS district main page:  This is where you can find all sorts of handy links to district events.

That should cover most of the basics for now.  I will continue to update you as needed.