Thursday, December 31, 2015

Band Trip Day 1

Good morning!  I will not make any promises as to this type of post happening every day over the next few days, but I will give it a try.  Here's a rundown of Memphis Trip Day 1...

Much to the credit of the students and their families, everyone arrived punctually and with all of their equipment on Wednesday morning.  No one was at the door to greet me when I arrived at 5:20 a.m., but within a half hour there were chaperones and their children arriving.  We managed to pull out about 12 minutes early with everyone on board and having lost only one Visa gift card between the building and the buses (a 20-minute life cycle, which may be a new record, but the good news is that the card was found by the student's diligent dad searching the snow after the sun rose...)

Alas, we were not destined to have a trouble-free trip!  About a half hour (or less!) later we received word that bus #2 was experiencing some engine troubles.  We pulled over at the rest area near Saugatuck (another new record for brevity) and waited for a replacement coach from Holland.  After a 40-minute delay or so we were back on the road and headed for Memphis!  (It's actually a good thing we were that close to Holland, where the Cardinal terminal is located.  Had we been much farther away the wait would have been far more serious.  Kudos to the Cardinal folks for expressing a new bus at 7 in the morning.)

Nothing much happened in the excitement department the rest of the trip except for changing drivers in Indiana somewhere, where we got our favorite lead driver, Charlie Bengtson, on board bus 1 and all became traditional  Charlie has driven this band more than any driver we've had; he's taken us to Washington, DC, Detroit, Jacksonville, and places in between.  I tell you this because it says something about our kids that he keeps agreeing to drive for us - he is Cardinal's most senior driver in the area, and he could easily turn down my request.  For the record, I have threatened this year's group to not mess up our good relationship with him :)

Upon arrival in Memphis about an hour late, the kids got checked into the hotel and re-boarded the buses for the rodeo.  I can't speak to their experience, as Andy W and I had a directors' meeting at the venue next door, but most seemed to have at least a decent time.  We did find out, unfortunately, that the arena didn't accept credit cards at the concession stands, so we loaded everyone back into the buses a little early and had Domino's deliver 40 pies to the hotel!

After a 20-hour day everyone was pretty worn out and went to bed (well, I did, anyway).  After a brief discussion with the all-night security guard explaining my stated goal of not wanting to see her again until the next day (and I didn't!  Yes!), I got at least several hours of sleep.  Now I'm waiting until the breakfast area opens so we can scope out how to feed 165 people in the lobby of the Hampton!  (Hey, it's free breakfast - we'll make it happen!)

Have a great day.  Check out the Twitter feed (@zhsband) and the band's Facebook page ( for further updates and pictures.  Happy New Year!

*Disclaimer: I have NOT given this post my usual 2-3 proofreads.  Or even one...  I hope it looks good.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Various Updates - Trip, Calendar, Etc

I know everyone is looking forward to the upcoming break, and lots of folks will be joining us on the trip to Memphis over the New Year's holiday.  When we return from break we will have a couple weeks until the winter concert and then finals week.  This post will talk about updates for all of these things.  

We have four more days this week before break, and we will be rehearsing daily.  I will be going to the Midwest Clinic ( on Thursday and Friday; Mr. Hall will be subbing for me.  He will have detailed plans of things to rehearse.

When we return from break on January 4 we will have two school weeks to review and finish preparing for the January 17 concert.  That concert will take place at 2:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble will all be performing. 

Students will be submitting a video playing test prior to their final exam period the week of January 18; this assignment will be made immediately after break.  It will be music from the concert that the students already know, so it should be something relatively easy for them to do.

The TRIP TO MEMPHIS is just about completely settled and in place.  Cathy Lugten is making a few final additions to the student/parent information packet and will send that out Tuesday or Wednesday of this week via email.  Students should print a copy if desired, or have the email on their phone or iPad or other device to bring to Memphis.  It's important for them to have access to this document while on the trip.  The packet contains the itinerary, rooming list, chaperone list with phone numbers, a suggested packing list, meal choices that students made, etc.  

We will be REHEARSING on Monday, December 28 from 7-9 p.m. here at school with the Memphis group.  This will be a great opportunity to get everything together and make a parade line-up and rehearse all the music.  Several chaperones for the trip will be available that evening as well, and students will begin to get things ready for our Wednesday, December 30 departure.

Students need to PRINT THEIR MUSIC so they can have it while we are on the trip.  There will be a couple of long rehearsals in Memphis, and it will be much easier to rehearse if the music is with them (though our goal is to have it well on the way to memorized).

SOLO AND ENSEMBLE festival is on Saturday, January 30 at East Kentwood HS.  So far I believe that all soloists have selected (or been assigned) their music, but I am having some difficulty with a couple of duets.  I should have that done by Wednesday of this week.  Please make sure your child is PRACTICING this music - January 30 will be here faster than they can imagine!  Let me know if you have questions about this; Linda Hoekwater and I are working together to make sure everyone is up to speed this year.  Students should plan on making an appointment with me to spend some after-school time working on S&E literature in January.

That is all that comes to mind at this time; I will let you know further details as they come up.   

Friday, December 4, 2015

Band Boosters Updates

As promised a few weeks ago (though I did promise to send it "in a few days"...), here are some updates and such from the band boosters that we thought everyone should read about.  

First of all, for those who are unfamiliar with what the boosters do, it sort of goes like this: it's a group of parents who meet once a month to hear about things that are going on in the band world and to assist with things like fund raising, organization, and other things that might crop up.  We started the group about a year ago after a parent and I had a conversation about what kind of assistance I might need to get some of the more "non-teacher, non-classroom" stuff off my plate, which was VERY cool.  So we started doing some meetings, which turned into the idea that we should try to meet once a month, and went from there.  (You may have noticed that I did not capitalize "band boosters;" we decided that while it IS an organization that is going to meet regularly, etc., at this time it is NOT going to be a formal/official group that has officers, its own money, etc.  It's a group of parents who want to be involved and help out.  So we kept it lower case for now.)

On to the recent stuff that we think everyone should know, because we decided to not meet in November or December due to everyone's calendar.  Amy Ransler made a list, and I added a few things as well.  (Amy has been our de facto "president" this year.)

  • SCRIP.  This is a really great fund raiser that we have done for nearly 20 years.  We are considering several options:
    • -continue with the same day/time, but open to middle school families so they can start funding their accounts for the next band trip
    • -open the program to all of the performing arts (choir, orchestra, etc)
    • -suspend the program until we are closer to the next band trip
    • There are some groups that use this system for fund raising that use a debit/credit card system to purchase the gift cards.  So far ZPS is not a fan of this option, so we are not offering it yet.  We are hoping to have it available in the future to make it easier for parents to participate
    • We will keep everyone posted as to the program's future
  • Things to think about for next year that people might find fun/interesting/helpful:
    • A more formal parent/senior night for the final home football game for marching band
    • A booster-organized event (such as lunch for everyone) during band camp (this would be a great thing to do on Friday before we go to the beach)
    • Tailgate-style event before (after?) a Saturday competition or parade
    • Let us know what you're thinking!  We know that lots of you were in band back in the day - we've received lots of great ideas from other schools, alumni, etc. as to things that they remember from high school band.  What would you like to see?  Email Amy Ransler at and let her know.
  • A brief (hopefully) word about fund raising:  When the band travels or does other really expensive things, fund raising happens, but is very difficult - when 150 students are traveling, as happens at the end of this month, a fund raiser must be able to offer enough profit potential/motive to raise a lot of money per student.  In other words, selling candy bars, at a profit of about 50 cents per bar, would mean that students would have to sell 1500 bars to earn their trip cost.  Or 200 to earn one month's payment.  So it's difficult to do "successful" fund raisers that are also easy to do.  The mattress sale is one such fund raiser - we made a total of $10,000 between the two sales that we did last spring and in October.  Many students were able to earn several hundred dollars with relatively little effort.  Scrip is another such opportunity, though you build the amount slowly over time.  
Our recent fund raisers at the Fuzzy Peach, Vitale's, and Buffalo Wild Wings ended up netting a total of about $800 or so altogether.  That amount will be used to offset some trip costs for incidentals, and leftover funds will be added to the regular fund raising account.

The money raised each year from the patron drive fund raiser (usually in the neighborhood of $5000 per year) pays for marching band expenses such as drill writing, staff, and music arranging where the school budget needs supplementing, transportation costs to a few events like the band camp beach trip, the occasional pizza party, Jones Sodas for everyone, supplementing the music budget (so far we've used an additional $750 beyond my classroom music budget this year), instruments that go beyond the budget, etc.  It goes pretty fast!

Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 28 at 7 p.m. in the band room.  We will get back to the "third Thursday of the month" in February, and have meetings in February, March, and April (and possibly May, depending on necessity).  We would love to have you join us!

Keith Walker and Amy Ransler

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Week of November 30

I thought I would take a few of the last minutes of Thanksgiving break and work at least a little ahead for the week.  Since there's not a ton happening, this will be more of a recap than a things-to-come post, but there is at least one of those as well.  So here goes:

MONDAY, November 30 - Christmas parade and awards night.  The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. on Main St.  Students are to be lined up and ready to go by 6:00 p.m. in front of Cityside.  UNIFORMS will be the band parkas and street clothes with Christmas-type hats/headwear.  Students are free to decorate their instruments with lights and garland, etc., as long as they still operate.  The equipment trailer will not be available for this event, so students/parents are responsible for getting equipment to Cityside.  Thanks for your help!

Immediately following the parade we will have our annual awards night in the auditorium.  (Yes, the same one that got re-scheduled twice...)  We have been doing this event for about 12 years now, and each year it seems to draw more people.  With 225 in the band this year, the auditorium should be pretty full!  A few years ago we decided for the sake of convenience to put both of these events on the same night so students and families wouldn't have to give up additional weeknights.  We will start in the vicinity of 7:15 p.m.  There will be some fun awards and some serious ones as well as a season highlights video.  This is not a required event, but it's always a high point in the year as we look back on the last few months.

Speaking of the last few months, it is very hard to believe that come Thursday it will be three months since band camp started.  In those three months we have seen friendships formed, missions accomplished, and much laughter (and a few tears...).  The flexibility and adaptability of this great group of young people was never more on display than it was last Friday as we made yet another trip to the MHSAA State Football Finals.  From getting things rolling on Monday morning to returning to school at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, I was once again reminded that I have a pretty great job.  First of all they somehow convinced me that we really didn't need a rehearsal on Wednesday (besides, it was going to rain).  Not many people realize we hadn't practiced that show at all since running it on October 30 at the game vs. Plainwell.  (shhh... don't tell...)

But the performance, for me, wasn't the real highlight of the trip.  No, that came at dinner at Bahama Breeze on the way to Detroit.  No fewer than three of the BB employees made comments to me about how great our kids are.  The head server made it a point to come over to me as I was finishing dinner to tell me that "this is the most polite, well-behaved group of teenagers we've ever seen.  We have adult groups that aren't this good.  Everyone has said 'please' and 'thank you,' and they are just great kids."  So there you go.  Success.  My point to the students (and now to you, though I suspect you already know and understand this) is that any interaction we have with the public may be the only interaction we have with that public, and the impression we leave means a lot.  The staff at the restaurant didn't care that we've strung together a long line of I's at festival, or that we've been the best band at Tulip Time for four years running.  They weren't going to the game, either.  The sole interaction they may ever have with Zeeland schools in general was Friday  night, and our kids lived up to my/our expectations.  Some pretty positive PR, and we didn't even perform!

See you Monday night for the festivities.  Have a great week.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Week of November 16

Greetings from the band room!  This should be another short post, but will also include some information for the future.  I hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weekend and managed to get outside and do something besides yardwork...

The Dux pulled off another win on Friday night, lifting the team to 11-0 for the season!  This week they travel to East Kentwood to take on Forest Hills Eastern in the Div. 4 semi-finals.  As has been our practice in past years, the band will not be traveling to this game but we wish the team the best of luck!  If the Dux win this weekend they will be in the MHSAA Div. 4 State Championship game on Friday, November 27 at 7:30 p.m.  The band WILL travel to that game; details will follow next week if needed.

TOMORROW night we have another chance to raise some supplemental cash for the band trip with a fund raiser at Vitale's from 4-8 p.m.  Vitale's will donate 15% of your check back to the band program during these hours.  Here is a flyer for you to print and bring with you (click here for download), or we will have them at the door.  Let's see if we can do as well as we did last week at BWW's...
BAND BOOSTER NEWS:  Be on the lookout the next day or so for the next booster communication.  We decided to cancel the November and December meetings due to schedule conflicts with many people and will resume in January.  Amy Ransler and I will put together an email with fund raiser and other pertinent info for this month.  The next meeting will be January 28 (the 4th Thursday - exam week and the Michigan Music Conference the week before) at 7:00 p.m. in the band room.  These meetings are open to anyone interested in attending.

THE NEW MARIMBA IS HERE!!!  If you have been following the ZHSMB on Facebook, you probably saw the news last Wednesday that the new Yamaha concert grand 5-octave marimba had been delivered and assembled.  This beautiful instrument will complement the other keyboard instruments in the percussion section, adding a smooth and mellow bass end to our two other marimbas.  Our advanced percussion ensemble literature frequently calls for the extra octave, and we have not had it until now.  This instrument, along with several tubas, French horns, bassoons, and oboes, was purchased through the bond money that the voters passed last spring.  We are very grateful for their generosity!!  Here is some video of Alex Cooke and me putting the instrument together last week:

The band room is also looking pretty good this week after a crew of ambitious youngsters who had nothing better to do on their day off decided to come in to school on Friday and clean and straighten.  I promised to not tell their parents any names for fear that parents would then expect room cleaning and dishes to be done at home, but I am indeed very appreciative of their work.  We spent a couple hours getting things in order, and are very pleased with the result:
That should be it for this week.  Hope to see you at dinner tomorrow at Vitale's!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week of November 2

Happy spring!  That is certainly what the weather is like the last couple of days, and that is fine with me.  I am taking advantage of the great weather this week by spending more time at home/outside than I do at school for a change.  I'm sure that next week will be back to the regular "balance" of time.

This could be a very short post - NOTHING is going on this week.  (You can officially stop reading right now if you are pressed for time.)

Since there is still room for more words and I am not doing anything else right now, here's a run-down of some other stuff that you may be interested in:

Next Tuesday, November 10 is the first concert of the year for the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble.  Both groups will perform at 7:30 p.m. on the DeWitt Auditorium stage.  Admission is free.  After you're done with parent-teacher conferences, stop down to the auditorium for an evening of great music spanning about four centuries!  (Please note that I will be wrapping up conferences immediately at 7 p.m. in order to prepare for the concert.  There will be no opportunity for me to stay later.)

Speaking of conferences, we teachers have been told that the fall conferences will be taking place in our classrooms.  I think this is great, since it gives you all a chance to see where your kids do what they do every day.  I will see what I can do to get a loop of marching band pictures and video playing on the screen for your entertainment as you wait in line to see me.

BAND TRIP:  The room lists are complete and will be shared with students as soon as tomorrow.  Chaperones have been tentatively assigned to groups of students, so the next logistics step will be signing up for buses.  I received word yesterday afternoon that the guest artist for the Liberty Bowl will be country star Craig Morgan.  I am not familiar with any of Mr. Morgan's music, but I did notice that Angie Harmon, one of my favorite TV actresses, is featured in one of his videos (I did a YouTube search...).  Hopefully we will have music soon and begin learning and memorizing for the December trip.  As far as payment, etc. is concerned, Cathy Lugten has been quite diligent at keeping people up to date with accounting.  Please let her know if there is a problem with your account.

Lately in class the large 4th hour group (161 students in grades 9-12) has split into two concert groups for the next 18 weeks or so.  The Concert and Symphonic bands are working on music for the winter concert, which will take place on Sunday, January 17 at 2:00 p.m.  This concert will include the Concert and Symphonic bands as well as the Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble.

Concert uniforms have been distributed to Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.  Concert Band students should provide their own concert outfits of black pants/skirt, black shoes, black socks, and white shirt/blouse.  Please make sure your child's wardrobe includes these items prior to January 17!  Percussion Ensemble students will wear all black - pants, shoes, socks, shirt.  Please no jeans or athletic shoes.  Let me know if you are having difficulty putting together an outfit; I have several things available, especially men's shoes.  In the future we hope to use some fund raising money to supplement our collection of tuxes and dresses so that all students except percussion (I like them in all black, and it's something everyone seems to have) will have a school-issued concert uniform.

Enjoy your week of not having to chase kids somewhere for band practice or performance!  And a special thanks to all of the parents and students who helped out last week with All-State auditions Thursday evening and Saturday morning as well as the parents who have been a constant presence at our games and performances!  We have received many positive comments regarding the combined band efforts at last Friday's game.  It was so great to have Dave Hepinstall back and to hear his students and give him a chance to conduct our band!  (We would have combined the bands for the national anthem, but we both use very different arrangements, and there wasn't the necessary time to re-learn for either of us.)

Thank you for reading.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Week of October 19

This post should be pretty brief!  It's a nice and easy week this week; our biggest events will be three fund raisers in addition to the final regular-season home football game.  Here's a timeline:

Monday, October 19 - Fuzzy Peach fund raiser, 7 - 9 p.m.  The Peach will be donating 20% of sales to the band during the evening, so make sure you call all your friends and let them know where to eat dessert!

Wednesday, October 21 - Band trip parent meeting, 7:00 p.m.  DeWitt Auditorium.  This should be considered a mandatory meeting for parents to attend to receive information regarding trip procedures and policies.  Students are not required to attend but are welcome.

Friday, October 23 - East home football - FULL BAND, required.  Report time 5:45 p.m.

Saturday, October 24 - Mattress sale and Home Expressions fund raisers, East cafeteria beginning at 10:00 a.m.  Look for a SignUp Genius email to sign up to assist with crew stuff that day (students and parents who assist will receive a bonus for the student's trip account).

Lots of great opportunities to raise money for the upcoming band trip!

Future planning...

Football playoff season is approaching.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, if the team(s) play at home, there will be a band involved somehow.  We usually "play it by ear" week-to-week as we look at what other events are happening around school, etc.  In general the first week is full band, full uniform.  And West, being thus far undefeated, will no doubt have home field advantage for the run of the playoffs.  The last couple of years the first round has seen West play East, so that is conceivable as well.  Basically at this point, double check your calendars for Oct 30 and add a marching band performance to them!  I understand that there are other things that may be scheduled already, so please let me know of serious conflicts as soon as possible.

The October 27 Jazz Band concert has been moved to Tuesday, November 10 - they will join forces with the Wind Ensemble that evening at DeWitt Auditorium.  The concert will begin at 7:30 to allow for the completion of parent/teacher conferences.

October 29 and 31 we will be hosting the regional auditions for the Michigan All-State bands and orchestras.  There may be an opportunity for folks to assist with some things like food, etc.  I will keep you posted.  Students who signed up to audition will receive their times Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.  Keep practicing!!

I believe that does it for this week, but as usual if something comes up I will send an email.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week of October 12

What a great show Saturday!!  And honestly, they did great from beginning to end - good rehearsal, dinner, dressing, loading equipment, and doing what they needed to do before and after the performance ALL had a bearing on their overall accomplishments on Saturday.  But the performance itself was easily the best they've played and marched thus far this year.  It will be tough to top that one on Tuesday, but I think they can do it.

This week is pretty much the "official" end of marching season - festival is Tuesday night, to be followed by the final two home games of the season the next two Fridays.  Here is the info for this week; I have held it back until now to avoid confusion - the times for Tuesday are similar to what we had Saturday, and I didn't want anyone being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Monday, October 12 - FINAL Monday night rehearsal - 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  In this 2.5-hour period we need to put all of the final details together and make sure that we are ready for Tuesday's "district finals."  Please make sure your child is at rehearsal on time.

Tuesday, October 13 - MSBOA District 10 Marching Band Festival.  Zeeland Stadium.  Timeline:
 - 6:30 p.m.  Students arrive at school to dress and prepare to head to the stadium
 - 7:15 p.m.  proceed to stadium for warm-up
 - 7:45 p.m.  warm-up scheduled
 - 8:30 p.m.  Performance
 - 9:00 p.m.  Ratings announced

Please remember that this performance is the only performance all year that I expect EVERY student to "drop everything" and be here.  Athletes need to adjust their game and practice schedules, etc.  There will not be the usual "we will meet you there when the game is done" kind of things - the coaches and athletic directors know of this, and hopefully your children have been communicating this to their coaches; I know they are always good at communicating with me when they have an athletic conflict, so I assume they have given their coaches the same courtesy regarding this.  Thanks for your cooperation.

Thursday, October 15 - Band Boosters meeting, 7:00 p.m. followed by the Mattress Sale fund raiser info meeting at 7:45.  Both will be held in the band room.  *We will need to give the orchestra students some room/leeway before 7 p.m. to begin their concert.  They will be using the band room until 6:50 or so for their warm-up and tuning.  Please arrive quietly for the 7 p.m. meeting.  All parents are invited to be a part of the boosters!  Thursday's discussion will center around a festival logistics recap as well as upcoming fund raisers.

Friday, October 16 - East Homecoming - This will actually be the first game that the full band (required) will be performing at an East home game!  Their first two home contests were basically  before school even started, so their fans haven't seen us play!  What a great opportunity to show off what we've been up to so far this year.

General Stuff:
 - T-shirts are IN.  Lots of students picked them up on Saturday; please send in your money ASAP and pick them up so we can reclaim the floor space outside my office!  If you did a pre-order then you have a shirt waiting.  If you did not pre-order, you're still in luck: we ordered several extras in each size.  $10.00 per shirt.  (Checks made out to ZHS Bands)
 - Jackets, sweatshirts, etc.  We are ordering cool weather gear again this year and adding sweatshirts to the mix.  Hoodies or crew necks in charcoal grey with the ZHS Marching Band logo embroidered on the left chest.  Use this link to order:  Please note: in order to get to the sweatshirt orders, you need to go to pages 2 and 3 of the form.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "next page."  Orders will not be processed without payment.  Please send in your payment by next Monday, October 19.
 - Band Trip Parent Meeting -Scheduled for Wednesday, October 21 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.  Some final details, etc. will be discussed, as will expectations of students on the trip.  I will make it brief and hold it to one hour or less.
 - Playoff games.  West is 7-0 and ranked #1 in the state, and East can easily make the playoffs by winning their final two games.  Playoffs begin on Friday, October 30.  If the team(s) is/are playing at home, there will be a band in attendance (the exception to this will be Friday, November 6 - the fall play is being performed in the auditorium, and we would not want to have the band disturbing that important performance).  I realize that plans have been made prior to these dates, etc., and will say that, while attendance is still expected, I am much more understanding of absences during playoffs.  The big reminder is that when a team has gone to State Finals in the past, the band is always invited along - we need to support the team prior to that as well by playing at Districts, etc.  Some weeks we do Track Band, some weeks full band.  I will keep everyone posted when that time arrives.

I am in the process of uploading the video from Saturday to YouTube.  It looks really good!  As I said on Saturday night, now that I know they can do that I can push them harder :)  We still have some cleaning to do tonight, mostly spacing issues, but I think we are in pretty good shape.

Thanks for a great week.  Hope to see you all on Tuesday as we perform at festival.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Band Placement

Spring is the time of year where I get to agonize over lots of decisions regarding the following year: Drum Major auditions, section leader interviews, and especially who gets placed in which band for concert season.

It is the last one that gives me the most trouble sleeping, and for a variety of reasons.  It's my hope that by writing this post I'll be able to share with you some of the things that go into planning for who goes where, because in a few short weeks our 4th hour giant ensemble will split into Concert Band and Symphonic Band.

Students in grades 9-11 are required to perform an audition in the spring, which is submitted as their final playing exam.  All students must complete two of the three sections of the exam; the third is optional for students wishing to place into the Wind Ensemble, our top performing group.  Eighth graders are given the material as an option to audition, but are not required.  Mr. Good, Mrs. Bier, and I sit and discuss placement for those students who choose not to audition, but they are generally placed into Concert Band.  (It is very rare that a freshman will be placed into Wind Ensemble - last year we had four, and this year only one.  Usually the literature is too advanced for freshman musicians, so unless instrumentation needs require it, they are generally not placed here, and they must complete the audition successfully.)

First and foremost, we want everyone to be successful and comfortable on their instruments, and the advantage of having three concert ensembles is that we can accomplish that to a much larger degree.  In theory the groups would progress by age: Concert Band would be largely populated by freshmen and sophomores, Symphonic Band would be sophomores and juniors, and Wind Ensemble would be made up mostly of juniors and seniors.

In actuality there are some crossovers for various reasons: some students "self place" and ask to be put where they are most comfortable.  Sometimes this is due to the demands of practicing that a higher group may put on them; sometimes it is for reasons known more to the student.  Other crossovers happen for instrumentation concerns (we absolutely cannot live without two oboes in Wind Ensemble, for instance), and still others simply due to the fact that this or that young student is advanced in playing beyond his or her year in school (like the trumpet player six years ago who made All-State Orchestra as a freshman).

Occasionally I do make placements based on seniority and work ethic.  This happens most frequently in Percussion Ensemble for assigning marching band instruments, but has also been a factor in bands as well.  Part of this system also includes a "best fit" kind of practice: sometimes it is better for a person, perhaps a year younger, to be a higher chair in Concert Band than one of the lower ones in Symphonic Band even if he or she is "better" than someone placed above.  This gives the student some leadership experience as well as placing him/her on a part that will bring out some strengths.  Speaking as a trumpet player, for instance, I more often need players who can blend and balance well on the inner parts - if I had all the power players in one group it wouldn't work well for any of the bands.  This is known in the business as "paying dues," and it is something that is rewarded in future years.

Which leads me to my final point, which is that part of the process is also to make sure that placement benefits all players and bands as well as considering individual strengths.  Will there be a person who can qualify for a higher band seat?  Yes.  And sometimes, for the benefit of the band over the student, that student is not placed as high as he/she could be.  As mentioned in the above paragraph, there are frequently many reasons for this, but first and foremost is ensuring that students can be successful, and that all three bands have balanced instrumentation and a good core sound on stage.

Week of October 5

The unofficial end of marching season is suddenly just around the corner!  Next week Tuesday is MSBOA festival here at ZHS, and we are making the final push to get things together this week.  Here are some details for you and your kids.  I will also try to hit some of the highlights of how judging works, though the two panels we will see the next ten days will be judging us from different sets of rules.

The two upcoming performances are open to the public and I encourage ALL of you to attend!  They will cost you some ticket money, however, since these act as money makers for GHS and the MSBOA.  I hope you can all make it and see all of the other bands as well - these are fun events and you will enjoy seeing what other groups have to offer.

Schedule for the week first, though:

MONDAY, October 5 - evening rehearsal, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We have two of these left.  Monday rehearsals are a required part of the class, and the only time the band gets to rehearse together during the week since we meet in three different class hours.  These Monday nights are our chance to make it all happen, and when students are missing it impacts everyone. Please make every effort to get your child to rehearsal on time.  There are only two more - tonight and Oct. 12.

Tuesday, October 6 - Color guard rehearsal - band room - 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday - nothing again!

Friday, October 9 - Home football - ALL required - full uniform, full show, etc.  This is a great dress rehearsal opportunity for our show on Saturday at Grandville.

Saturday, October 10 - Grandville Invitational 
Schedule for the day:
 - arrive at school for afternoon rehearsal at 3:45 p.m.
 - rehearsal begins at the stadium at 4:00 p.m.
 - dinner served by some great parents at 6:00 p.m.
 - dress, load buses, etc.
 - depart for Grandville at 7:15 p.m.
 - performance at 9:30 p.m. (I have no idea why this has moved to late at night this year)
 - return home ca. 10:45 p.m.
This is a required performance for all students.  If it's necessary for you to drive your child home from the event before the rest of the band leaves, please notify me ASAP and we will make arrangements for you to meet us as we finish.  We are the last band to perform in the competition, so there won't be a lot of waiting when we are done.  Because of this, it is much easier and more efficient if all students ride the bus back to school.

Monday, October 12 - final Monday rehearsal of 2015!
Tuesday, October 13 - MSBOA marching band festival
Friday, October 16 - Home FB, full band, etc.
Monday, October 19 - Fuzzy Peach fund raiser
Saturday, October 24 - Mattress sale and Home Expressions fund raisers

* A word about adjudication...
Over the next ten days the ZHSMB will be judged in two different competitions.  And technically only one of those is a competition...
On Saturday at Grandville HS, our band will be judged in six different areas, four of which contribute to the final score and placement.  We will be judged in Music Performance, Music Effect, Marching Performance, and Visual Effect (which add up to our final score), and Color Guard and Percussion (where scores are used to determine awards for those areas but do not affect our total score).  Each judge awards points in each category, and the highest point total wins the day.  Pretty straightforward.  There are no "ratings" like we will have at MSBOA; it is a total score out of 100.  We do not compete at places like Grandville (or Kenowa Hills, etc., as in past years) to "win big."  We compete because I like the kids to have more than one opportunity to perform in front of a panel of judges so we can get some good feedback.  I like to do one show before MSBOA as a sort of tune-up; it helps the kids get the nerves taken care of before our final judged event.  

At MSBOA festival, the format is one in which "everyone can win."  The bands are judged against a set of standards and benchmarks in Music, Marching, and General Effect.  If your band meets the standards, you can receive the highest rating.  There is no overall winner, or placements of any kind.  The three judges each give the band a rating (I, II, III, IV, or V), and the ratings are "averaged" for a final overall rating.  The last several years the ZHSMB has received a I in all three categories, resulting in an overall I, or "First Division" rating.  I'm hoping we can continue that streak next Tuesday.

Thanks for your support so far this year - keep encouraging your kids!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Band Trip Special Edition

I thought I would write an "extra" version of the blog this week to keep everyone as up to date as possible regarding the December band trip to Memphis.  Here are some things that we think you need to know at this point; others will follow as needed.

PAPERWORK Your child should be handing you a form/letter/info sheet on Friday, October 2.  This page contains band "homework" - it involves registering your child on the tour company's website so they have the information they need for our group.  This registration will allow you to eventually be added to the room list.  It is required by the tour company - if you don't do the registration, your child will be unable to attend.  Please have this done by Monday, October 5.  This form is also available on our web page -

LATE ADDITIONS  If your child does not receive this paperwork tomorrow, it means we think he/she is not traveling with us.  If you would like to add your child, let me or Cathy Lugten know.  You will need to get completely caught up on the monthly payments that have occurred, but we can add people for about two more weeks before we have to have everything all set.

PAYMENTS  If you are up-to-date with your payments, you will have paid $550 of the $750 trip cost at this point.  A monthly statement is emailed to keep you apprised of your account balance.  Students whose accounts are not current will not be allowed to sign up for a room.  Please contact me or Cathy Lugten to arrange a method to get your account paid to the current level as soon as possible.

PARENT MEETING  We are planning a parent meeting for Thursday, October 15, probably in the band room, at 7:30 p.m.  Details will follow ASAP - there is a concert in the auditorium, but this is a perfect date to get everything taken care of.  Every student who is traveling must be represented by a parent or guardian at this meeting.  We are asking, though, that the kids stay home due to room constraints - it will be a little cozy that night!

ROOMING LIST  In about two weeks' time we will be putting together a rooming list.  Students will be writing down a list of friends with whom they would like to share a hotel room (four people per room).  We try to guarantee at least one of these friends will be in the room with them; we also include the option of letting us know if there is a person they absolutely could not be with for any length of time, and try to avoid placing those kids together.  We understand that not everyone gets along, and we want the trip to be as pleasant as possible for everyone.  Again, if your child's account is not current, he/she will not be allowed to sign up for a room.

CHAPERONES  I am still working on this.  I have about 4-5 spots to fill, and the next round of "choices" will be made based on the boy/girl ratio of students.  We try to keep male chaperones with boys' groups, and females with girls'.  I will finish this up as soon as possible.  As of now we have Tom and Amy Busa, Tom and KayLynn Beltman, Jeff and Sherry Costello, Andy Watson, Becky VanValkenburg, and LoriJo Schepers.  Please be aware that I am the director and not a chaperone.  There will be times when I am required to be away from the group for directors' meetings prior to rehearsals and performances; the chaperones will be in charge of your children during those times.  They are all well-trained and experienced in many different things from teaching to ministry to medicine to Air Force logistics, so we have everything well-contained!  Chaperones are assigned on a 1:12 ratio, with each adult having responsibility for 12 students.

FUND RAISERS  We have several fund raising opportunities coming up that you should be involved with.  On Saturday, October 24 you have the chance for TWO simultaneous fund raisers - another mattress sale and a Home Expressions party.  Information for both of these is on Facebook ( ( the mattress sale will be explained at the parent meeting on the 15th.  We are also hosting fund raisers at the Fuzzy Peach, Vitale's, and Buffalo Wild Wings.  Information regarding these will be sent out via email.  Your child has the chance to earn money toward his/her trip account with all of these, so please encourage participation!

MEDICAL FORMS, MEDICATIONS, ETC.  If you have not yet done so, please fill out the medical form and return it as soon as possible - it is found in the "Liberty Bowl Trip Packet" file on the band trip web page (  While there you can also download a PDF file of the information your child should give you on Friday.  Medications must be listed on this form, and they must be turned in and administered by a chaperone per school policy.  We will try to have our resident doctor/chaperone be in charge of this.

HOTEL POLICIES, ETC.  There will be much more specifically spelled out regarding the hotel expectations as we get closer to departure, but here are the basics: 
 - Room telephones, pay-per-service TV/gaming/wi-fi/movies will be turned of by the hotel (unless the wi-fi is already free).  This allows us to pay a flat, pre-paid rate without incurring extra costs.  Students will not be allowed to pay for these services to be turned on.
 - No boys in girls' rooms, no girls in boys' rooms.  EVER.  PERIOD.  Not to sit with the door open and play cards, not to chat, not ever.  Hallways will also be kept clear; there will be time for chatting and hanging out while we go about our daily activities.
 - Four students per room.
  - Chaperones do not room with students (that has been a question in the past).

That concludes the list that Cathy and I came up with today.  Please feel free to email her - - or me - - if you have any questions.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week of September 28

TWO WEEKS until festival!  Yep, two weeks from tomorrow is our annual MSBOA festival performance, and we are putting the final touches on the show the next week or so.  Tonight's rehearsal is vital for all involved - there may or may not be some dance moves happening...  Seriously, though, it is very important for all students to attend rehearsal tonight so we can get everything heading in the right direction.  Here is the schedule for the week:

TONIGHT: Rehearsal at the stadium - 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Parking and traffic might be a bit of a challenge tonight.  As I'm sure you are all aware, ZPS is hosting a showing of the film "Hope Bridge" beginning at 6:30 p.m., and we are expecting a pretty full house.  It would be best, if possible, to drop your kids off directly at the stadium at 6:30 to avoid the crowd here at the high school.  I will remind them to grab their instruments after school so they don't have to stop here to get them first.  (Large stuff like tubas and drums would be exceptions...)  Option B would be to get here early to avoid the rush.  I will be here by 5:45 or so, and kids can get dropped off and walk to the stadium when it's time.  I wish that these events were not occurring simultaneously, because I think it is important for people to see this film.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that the band rehearses in three separate class hours during the day, Monday nights are pretty critical to our success.  Thank you for your understanding!

Tuesday, September 29 - Color guard practice, band room, 7 - 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Thursday - NOTHING!

Friday, October 2 - West home FB - Track Band  Report time 6:00 p.m.  Here's a friendly reminder that Track Band is a less formal, pep band-style, voluntary organization.  We hope that lots of students want to join the group and cheer on the team!  Wear West colors if you have them; no uniform required.

Saturday, October 3 - Pumpkin Fest Parade.  The parade starts at 3:00 p.m. in front of Cityside.  Students are to be lined up on Main St. by 2:30 p.m. in full uniform ready to go.  It is required of ALL students.  Athletes who have direct conflicts will be excused from the parade, but I need an email confirmation, please.  

    (Direct conflicts would be defined as "I am swimming/golfing/running at 1 or 2 p.m. and there is no physical possibility I can do both events."  Folks who have athletic contests in the morning and are back in town by parade time are expected to be at the parade.  Thanks!)

FUTURE planning:

 - Mattress Sale, Saturday, October 24.  Here is a link to the event on Facebook.  Please mark your calendars!  This sale made LOTS of money last spring.  There should be flyers/coupons for families to pass out this week.  The basic idea is that you write your student's name on the flyer/coupon and pass them out to friends and family, church, work, wherever.  When a customer brings that flyer to the sale, credit for the sale is given to your child, and the profit margin is credited to his/her trip account.  What if someone forgets the flyer with the name on it?  No problem - all they need to do is remember who it was and we will write in the name.  Further, more specific info will be given out to students in class soon, and we are trying to schedule a parent meeting for it as well.

 - In conjunction with the mattress sale, we are also running a Life Expressions "make-and-take" fund raiser.  For $20.00 you can paint and letter a sign for your home or office, and students will receive credit in their trip account.  Details on that event are here - - and again more information will be forthcoming in the next couple weeks.
  *you do not need a Facebook account to see these events - just click on the links.

Grandville Invitational - Saturday, October 10.  As I emailed last week, this will be an evening/night event.  I am thinking that an afternoon rehearsal/"tailgate" might be in order and at least a little fun, so I will be looking into that idea the next couple days.  We are scheduled to perform at 9:30 p.m. (!!).  Here's a link to the day's events:

That is a lot of information for this week, so I will stop here.  Please let me know if you have any questions - 616-748-3130 or


Monday, September 21, 2015

Week of September 21

"It's not raining 'til I say it's raining..."  What a damp debut for our new uniforms!  The good news is that they seem to have held up extremely well and actually dried pretty quickly.  Things are almost even smelling OK in the band room this morning, and usually by now the old suits had the room in kind of bad shape.  The material in the new ones is much lighter and water-friendly as well as being much more comfortable (with the exception of the stiff collar around the neck, but they'll get used to that).

Overall I thought Friday went about as well as it could have - we have tons to work on as the season progresses, but given the conditions, the feel of new uniforms for every student (no one in the drumline, for instance, has ever been in a full uniform that is the same as everyone else), and the first time in front of a home football crowd, I am pretty happy with where things are right now.  I will try to post video (thanks, BJ Meyaard!!) to the Facebook page and YouTube sometime later today or so, though admittedly that is not a high priority this early in the season.

Speaking of thanks, a HUGE thank you to all of the parents who helped out Friday with everything - photography, videography, uniforms, drum major podiums, donating water, being unused on the plume detail (good call on not using them - thanks to Brent Deters for that final call), etc.  It takes a village to raise a child, but a pretty strong force of parents to make them all look good in front of a crowd.

On to this week:

TONIGHT: Monday rehearsal at the stadium, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday: Color guard rehearsal, dance studio, 7 - 9 p.m.
Friday: West Homecoming, FULL BAND again, 5:45 p.m. report

Upcoming events for your future planning:
 - Monday, Sept. 28 - Monday rehearsal at the stadium.  This may be a very crowded evening with an event going on in the auditorium.  Students are not excused from rehearsal for that event; there is another showing of this film in the Holland area this week.
 - Saturday, October 3 - Pumpkin Fest parade.  Parade begins at 3 p.m. in front of Cityside MS.  

This can be a touchy subject for various reasons, so I will be as careful as possible, but no promises to not step on any toes.  

On Friday night there were over 20 students absent from the performance for one reason or another.  I am happy to say that the vast majority were pre-planned, excused reasons (varsity football, family weddings, a concert where tickets were purchased many months ago, etc.).  And since it was the second week of school, the illnesses started up already, so we had a few people who were ill.  There were also a couple out with concussions...

My point is this: it's important to have everyone at every performance and rehearsal.  And clearly, based on the above items, it's also virtually impossible.  I can't stress enough how every person is important to the band's final performance and look, whether it be a lowly freshman on the back hashmark on the 10-yard-line or a drum major.  Everyone has a place to be.  Please make every effort to have your child participate - the course description states that "rehearsals and performances outside of the school day will be required."  I think Friday's 10% absentee rate set a record, and it's one that I hope to never break.  I think that once in a while the feeling might get to a "hey, there's 225 kids, they're really not going to miss one" sort of thing, and that is definitely not the case.  I appreciate your efforts to help your kids fulfill their commitments!

That should do for this week.  Look out for some emails/surveys/signups for assistance at this week's game, the upcoming mattress sale, and helping to run the MSBOA marching festival.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Week of September 14

Welcome to the second week of school!  This week things get rolling more seriously, as we have some evening rehearsals and a full band performance on Friday.  Here is a run-down on the week as well as some other things for you to keep in mind.

TONIGHT: Rehearsal at the stadium - 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We have MUCH to accomplish: reviewing the halftime show to get it in shape for Friday night, getting it on and off the field, setting up what the expectations are in the bleachers, and running a new pre-game set.
    (Senior Alex Stuive has written a fanfare for our pre-game show that incorporates both East and West fight songs as well as some general "exciting musical build-up" to kick off our pre-game festivities.  It's possible, though probably not this week, that we will be bringing back Script Chix and Block Dux for pre-game as well.  My goal is to do something other than just stand there between the initial fight song and the national anthem...  Look for something new this week!)

Tuesday: Color guard 7 - 9 p.m.  This will either be in the band or choir room (maybe even outside?) - the Holland Symphony will be rehearsing in the building tomorrow night, so we may have to adjust where guard goes.

Thursday:  Band Boosters meeting, band room, 7:00 p.m.  All parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.  We promise not to volunteer you or put you on a committee, though there will be opportunities for both of those to happen.  These meetings are a good place to catch up in person with what's going on in the bands as well as to connect with other parents and be part of something that is very valuable to your kids.  This week we will be discussing hosting MSBOA marching band festival and some trip updates and fund raising opportunities for October.  Hope to see you there!


This is a required performance.  ALL students, full uniform, etc.  I know that there will be several students otherwise engaged, and I have received those notifications (thank you again!).  We dodged a West Cross Country situation (the team will be back in plenty of time), and all else looks good at this point.  Remember to get your kids HERE; "I didn't have a ride" is not an excuse to miss a performance.  With well over 200 kids in the band, someone lives near you and can offer your student a lift to school.

Students need to be here a little early to make sure we can get stuff done on time before the game.  I want kids her NO LATER than 5:45, but preferably earlier.  My goal is to have a fully-uniformed band on the practice field by 6 p.m.  There are fewer parts of the uniform to put on, but since they're new it might take a while to get everything where we want it, and we already know that there will need to be some adjustments in pant length.  (For folks looking to add to their prayer/thought list for the week, please put "no rain Friday" on it ASAP.  Thanks.)

There will be a new Signup Genius out later today or tomorrow for a Friday night crew.  We will need plume distributors/collectors (kids do not keep these with their uniforms), some general assistance in the uniform room, a DM podium crew, etc.  If you have assisted before I will probably be in touch with you to make sure you're on again for this season.

 - Monday rehearsal, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.
 - Tuesday Color Guard, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
 - Friday - West Homecoming game, full band, all students

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND for the future:

 - MSBOA District 10 MB Festival will be hosted at Zeeland Stadium on October 13.  Athletes need to inform their coaches that this is our "district finals," and as such I will expect every student to be on the field with me.  Many events will allow students to participate in both; this is the one and only band event for which I do not make deals, though, so be aware of that as you plan.

 - The Mattress Sale rides again.  Saturday, Oct. 24 in the East cafeteria.  Find the Facebook event here.  This is a great fund raising opportunity for the upcoming trip to Memphis!

 - Speaking of the trip, we will plan a parent meeting for October to update folks on details, etc.  Andy Watson has been a great researcher and planner and has things figured out quite well as far as our schedule, food, etc.  At this point we anticipate kids only having to by a couple of meals or snacks; all else will be included in the cost.  Chaperones are coming together, too.  I am now ready to accept emails from folks interested in helping out.  Please understand that lots of people will want to chaperone, but we only have space for about six more.  School employees, medical personnel, etc. have an advantage here.

 - I posted some general blog stuff the other day of information that folks need frequently throughout the year.  So far I've added "Communication" and "Track Band;" in the near future look for posts on calendar/requirements and band/athletics.  I hope to get the "Uniforms" one done today or tomorrow.  

Thanks!  As always, is a great way to contact me with any questions.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week of September 8

Good Morning - 

Here is what to expect for the first official week of school schedule-wise:

Tuesday, Sept 8 - Color Guard rehearsal, band room, 6 - 9 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 11 - East home football, Track Band - report to band room at 5:45 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 14 - Evening rehearsal - 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

This is a pretty short week, so this is a pretty short blog post.  Future posts will include more specific details regarding dates and times, etc. as needed, as well as any updates to things that you need to know.

I have written several new posts regarding general band stuff so that the information can be seen all in one place.  You can view them by clicking the arrow next to the "August" tab on the left sidebar.

Please let me know if you need anything!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Track Band

"So...  What is this "track band" thing I see on the schedule?"  Second in the series of general information blog posts is an answer and explanation to this often-posed question.  And lucky for you it's a short and easy answer.

Track Band is pretty much exactly as it sounds - a pep band style organization that performs at football games on the track in front of the home crowd.  Here are some bullet points:

  • It is not required for students to participate in track band
  • We encourage all students to give it a try at some point
  • It is very informal - no uniforms, etc.
  • It is a great way to make up for an absence from a performance
When the football teams split ten years ago, it meant a home game every Friday for nine weeks, since one team would be playing at home every week no matter what.  We came up with this solution to make sure that there was coverage of all games and also that the national anthem and school songs, etc. would be performed.  I actually stole the idea from Michigan and Notre Dame - both have groups that tour the stadium during the second half of the football games while the full band gets a little break.

Sometimes during the playoff season we use the track band for games instead of the full group for a variety of reasons.  When playoffs start to happen, that will be communicated via blog post/email.

Thanks!  Hope to see lots of students involved this year!


"Does he always send so many emails?"  I heard this question from a new parent via a more experienced one, and the answer is, "it varies."  I thought I would take the opportunity to explain some policies/procedures that I use and place them in several different blog posts.  This one will deal with communication between parents, students, and me.

Some weeks, like those leading up to band camp, there will be numerous contacts made.  Most weeks, however, I will try to limit my communications to sending out the link for the weekly-ish blog post.  Once marching band season concludes, you really don't hear from me much at all until January and concert dates and such come up, but I will occasionally send out something regarding class activities or upcoming things that are not performances.

The usual scenario is that on Monday morning I will write a new blog post for the week's events and send a link via email.  This allows a more permanent space for information, etc. so that people can access it any time.

For more immediate things that don't necessarily require a "permanent" home, I will probably send an email listing the information.  This might include a reminder for students to wear white socks with their uniforms, for instance, or maybe a reminder about fees due for rental or uniforms.

I also have a direct phone number to my office (616-748-3130), and you are welcome to leave a voicemail.  I am not a huge fan of voicemail for a number of reasons, but chief among those is my desk.  It is not always a place that is conducive to finding the note I just wrote to call a parent back about an issue!  Feel free to call, but I am not nearly as efficient with the phone.

Communication from you to me is always best via email -  If it makes it to my inbox it will be dealt with as soon as possible.  

Email "policies" that I try to adhere to:
 - I usually do NOT check email after 4 p.m. or on weekends.  Anything sent after 4 p.m. or after Friday will be read the following school day.  This allows me time to be away from school and recharge, which I have found to be a very important part of being a successful (or at least sane) teacher.
 - If an email asks something that several people are asking, I will probably add it to the following week's blog post, and that may happen without a personal response to each person.
 - I like to reply/close out email issues within a day or two.  No promises on 24 hours or anything, but I don't like letting things sit for a week, either.  I try to keep my inbox to fewer than 30 messages.

Student communication

This is an area which I like to let students bear some responsibility.  In the event that there are schedule conflicts with athletics, or if students are concerned about a playing test, etc., I think it is important for them to make contact with me before the parents.  It's not something I require at all, but please help me to encourage them to develop these skills by having them do some of the work that you are used to doing.  

I also maintain a student email list separate from the parental one so that I can communicate classroom stuff during the week.  These may be very different than the messages I send to parents - mainly due to the specific details in them.  I expect students to check their student email accounts regularly for these communications as part of their classwork.  In the age of digital communication and 1:1 iPads, they are expected to keep up with these.

Please feel free to set up an appointment to speak with me personally if you feel the need - whether that be for a specific classroom concern or just to stop in and meet me in person, I am available a couple of different times each day.  My planning/conference period is 1st hour (7:45 - 8:45 a.m.).  I also can make myself available after school if need be.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Band Camp Final Details

SO MANY THINGS keep coming up that I thought I'd write a new blog post!  As of Wednesday afternoon the student leadership team and I had spent a great couple of days together preparing to greet and teach students next week.  I am looking forward to another productive camp!

Hopefully this post will answer any remaining questions (a few of you have asked about things that I didn't think about, so thank you) and clear up any other issues still out there (like why the music may not download properly).

So in somewhat chronological order, here are the things you need to know before next Monday:

STUDENT EMAIL PASSWORDS have been changed.  But someone let me know how to do the new ones, so here is the formula: 
   User name is still <studentnumber>
   Passwords have been changed to 
      - First three letters of birth month (first one is capitalized)
      - birth day (no "0" for 1-9 digits)
      - birth year
SO...  Mine would be Jul311964

I still don't have access to Infinite Campus for the upcoming year, so there are many things I can't do right now with student lists, email, etc.  Please share this information with your kids.

MUSIC There will be a few copies available for those still having difficulty with the download.  I will also attach the zip files to a parent email again.  The trick that seems to work for about 90% of people is to click on the download arrow on the right side of the page rather than on the title of the file.  I still don't know why, nor do I know why this is different than all of the other links I've posted.

TRAFFIC There will be lots of it each morning and afternoon.  I have asked that a few of our section leaders be out in the lot to assist you as you drive in to drop off and pick up each day, but the plan is to keep the traffic flowing counter-clockwise.  Please drive in to the bus circle area - the driveway closer to West, between East and the soccer field - and drop off/pick up in that direction.  That puts the passenger doors opening toward the building and not into traffic, and prevents tie-ups in the narrow driveways.  Please do NOT use the driveway at the northeast corner of the building - that will be "exit only" for the week.  We also ask for your patience with children and other drivers as things get crowded and hectic, especially at the end of the day.

Speaking of picking up and dropping off, it's been asked if that will happen at the stadium or at the school.  Dropping off will always happen at school.  For picking up, my answer is probably "both," but with one stipulation: if you plan to pick up your child at the stadium, please do not follow that up with bringing him/her back to school.  This will help the traffic at school.  My guess is that most children will want to be picked up at school due to putting away equipment and that sort of thing.

TIME.  This one is going to be tough next week.  And many of you may become frustrated with me, but I am willing to risk it.  Our dismissal time is 5 p.m.  That means from wherever we are at 5 p.m., which will probably be the stadium.  Which means that by the time 235 band members walk back to school and put stuff away, it will be well after 5 p.m.  When we are at the field next to the building this is not a big deal, and when we do Monday evening rehearsals I release from the stadium before 9 p.m. when possible.  But being at the stadium will eat away some rehearsal time, so I can't necessarily get kids back to the building at 5 p.m.  They're dismissed at 5.  Thanks for understanding!

PARENT MEETING  The parent meeting on Thursday, August 6 will be in DeWitt Auditorium at 7 p.m.  We will talk about "how to be a HS band parent" sort of thing, including the best way to contact me, where to find information about band events, class policies, etc. 

SENIOR MEETING  Will take place this Sunday at 1:30 p.m.  This meeting is optional and will cover just some basic senior topics as well as a hanging out and reminiscing time!  Tell them to feel free to bring a snack or drink.  Should last about an hour.

CAMP SUPPLIES  I think we are all set with water jugs, tent canopies, and all the stuff we need for next week.  The team rooms will be open for kids to use if necessary, which are cooler than being outside.  Again, please make sure your students come well-prepared with water, sunscreen, hats, etc. 

I think that should take care of it.  Feel free to email me if I've missed anything!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Updates II

Here are some updates that need to be made note of so things keep running smoothly (I am assuming that they are already running smoothly...).

I'd like to say that these are in some kind of order, but as I review them there are really no major issues, so I'm writing them as they appear on my list:

 - EARPLUGS My apologies for posting incorrect dates for the earplug days at Holland Doctors of Audiology.  To be honest, I didn't realize I'd posted the information and now I can't find it to make the changes online!  (If someone can find it and direct me to where it is I will make the change.)  Here is the info directly from HDA:
 - Thursday 7/30 and Friday 7/31 8:30am-5pm, no appointment required, keeping it still at the same $10 per pair including taxes, cash only. 
 - Earplugs can also be purchased at the reduced cost if they let us know they are band students any time M-F, 8:30-5 if they know their size.  Please note that, for hygiene reasons, earplugs are not returnable and we encourage checking ears before to select size first. We can also do the reduced cost office visit ($25+cost of plugs) if they want to make an appointment for a one-to-one consultation outside of the designated Band dates. If wax removal is necessary, that is NOT included but they can do at home with OTC drops, their pediatricians office, or here (sometimes covered by insurance; varies). 
*HDA is located on 32nd Street and US31 in Holland, about a quarter mile west of the intersection.

RETURNING STUDENTS are being reminded to bring their marching shoes to camp with them.  We want to make sure they HAVE shoes so we don't get stuck at the first performance - we have discarded the "shoe library" and will not have spares this year.  Please make sure your child has his/her shoes and brings them to camp.  We can always order a new pair if needed, but we want to get it all done at once.
 - Anyone who has any CONCERT uniforms at home needs to let us know that.  When your child is fitted for a uniform at camp, he/she should let the crew know that the concert uniform is already assigned and at home.

BAND TRIP Cathy Lugten has been doing lots of volunteer work this summer making sure parents are kept up-to-date about their trip payments.  She is working to make sure that all payments are accounted for and sending email reminders, etc.  Please be patient as we work through her schedule, the office schedule, and the mail schedule!  She will keep everyone posted as efficiently as possible.  (Please remember that although she is a district employee, she is also a band parent, and her time and effort after June 4 and before September 8 is all volunteering!)

WISH LIST In my blog post last week ( I added a list of things that the band needs as far as equipment, etc.  Someone asked if some of these things could be loaned to the band and returned - like the water coolers, carts, etc.  Absolutely!  If you have something on the list you'd be willing to loan out, let me know and we will make sure it gets back to you in good condition.

OFFICE HOURS I will NOT be here on Thursday (tomorrow) this week.  I somehow managed to schedule a very busy week and have two appointments tomorrow...

VOLUNTEERING If you plan to help with anything band-related this year, please click over to the ZPS volunteer sign-up page here: so we can get the necessary background checks, etc. completed.  These are reset every summer, apparently, so if you filled one out last year, please do so again.  
 - Speaking of volunteering, here is your first opportunity!  Amy Busa and Holly Corley have taken over the uniform crew duties, and they could use your help at band camp.  This is a VERY easy job.  Kids try on clothes and if they fit, you write down the numbers.  It's a pretty easy system and runs in an assembly line fashion.  Contact Amy at or Holley at and let them know you're available.

STUDENT EMAIL At this time I am unable to connect with incoming freshman students, so I have only sent emails to parents.  Please share any relevant information with your children so that they are kept informed as well!  

I think that should do it for today's updates.  19 days til camp!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Updates

Every year when I was a kid, on or about July 5, my dad would say, "well, summer's over."  Drove us all crazy.  But in some fashion or other, summer is at least coming to the point where we have to begin thinking about what the next month will bring about.  Hopefully this will help folks stay on top of things between now and band camp.

In the event that folks need to stop by to pick up a school instrument, drop off a check for the trip, or other pressing need, I will plan to be in the band office on Mondays between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., Wednesday evenings (with drumline, so the room is open but I may not be available to chat) from 6 - 7:30, and probably Thursday afternoons between 1 and 2:30 (please call if you plan to stop on Thursday in case I am not here).  My office number is 748-3130; calling before you come by on any day is probably a good idea.

 - Drumline meetings/rehearsals on Wednesday evenings begin this week on July 8 at 6 p.m.  All members of the drumline are expected to attend if they are in town.  This week we will be assigning some parts, instruments, and equipment as well as looking at a few things musically.
 - Section leaders and drum majors will be holding their annual "pre-camp" sessions beginning on Tuesday, July 28 at 9 a.m.  They are aware of this, and I am aware that a few of them are out of town that week.  I will send them a separate reminder email regarding this.
 - Music is available on the website and has been emailed to parents on my email list.  Mr. Hall will be writing the drill beginning this week.
 - Band camp starts on Monday, August 3.  ALL of the items that students and parents need to know for camp are posted on the band's website under the "Marching Band" link on the left sidebar.  Introduction letters, permission slips, list of things to bring, etc. are all available.

As the program grows, so do our needs.  The budget, however, remains pretty neutral!  If you would like to contribute to any of the following things, please let me know (or simply send/drop off a check or an item on the list).
 - 2 or 3 more 5 or 10-gallon water jugs for band camp.  We currently have two, and with well over 200 people we will need a few more.
 - a small/medium equipment cart.  Something with four wheels and a platform to transport things (like the water jugs) to and from the room.  Pneumatic tires are probably better than hard rubber ones, but you never know.  Costco had something that was pretty cool for around $50.00 - foldable, etc.  
 - We were told that our plans to expand uniform storage won't work, so we need to purchase some portable uniform racks.  These are $99.00 apiece, and we need 4-6 of them if you would like to donate to that fund
 - We have designated some fund raising money for new color guard uniforms so that they get something new as well, but a supplement to that fund would also be welcome!  Total cost per uniform is about $120, and we need about 30.
 - Finally, we are also expanding the band camp professional staff this year, and they all need to be paid.  Again, there is fund raising money designated, but as you can imagine it will quickly be depleted.  Staff costs will be $1500.00 for camp this year.
        *Any moneys donated for these items will be treated the same way as we do our usual fall patron drive; they are tax deductible, etc.