Monday, September 18, 2017

Week of Sept 18, 2017

Good Morning - 
This week things kind of get "real," as they say, and we begin a fairly long stretch of performance weeks.  This coming Friday, Sept 22, is our first required, full band performance (all students).  We will be performing the entire show at halftime, and I think it will be pretty good!  Here is what you need to know for the week:

TONIGHT - rehearsal at the stadium 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  We need to put the finishing touches on everything for Friday's debut.  It's week 5 of HS football, and the band hasn't been seen yet.  We need to be good!

Tuesday, Sept. 19 - Color Guard, band room, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 22 (this is shaping up to be a big day...)
 - MORNING assembly for Fox 17 News.  I have zero details on this right now, but I know we will have the marching band in the gym at a relatively early hour...
 - Pep assembly for West Homecoming in the afternoon
 - GAME Friday night.

  • Report time: Varies.  I want students dressed and ready by 5:45 p.m.  We will discuss this idea in class this week
  • Parent volunteers are needed for several things.  A SignUp Genius will be sent soon!
  • Uniforms are kept at school.  Students change in and out of them in the building and return them to the uniform room after the game.
  • We stay for the first half as a band, then students are excused to change and head back to the game if they would like.
Other things for your consideration and/or future planning:

NAME TAGS: Please make sure your child's instrument has a name tag on it so it is easily identifiable in case of loss or confusion.

MSBOA Festival is October 10, here at Zeeland.  This is the one and only date throughout the entire year that I have a "no compromise" policy.  I expect all students to be here at the required time (unknown at the moment, but usually around 7 p.m.).  I already know there is a swim meet and a volleyball match.  Please make sure your children are talking with their coaches about this conflict.  Whatever game time they are able to get in before reporting to band is fine, but this particular night is pretty off limits to meeting us at the field as we are heading in for performance (which does happen on other occasions!).  Just some advance warning for you.

MONDAY NIGHTS are critical to our success as a group.  There is not another time that we meet as a full band!  Please do everything to make sure your child is at rehearsal - I know there are sports conflicts, but everyone else is expected at each Monday rehearsal.  I started a policy last year in which I reserve the right to pull a student from the performance on Friday if he/she has missed Monday night.  

That should do for today, I think.  As always - for any questions or concerns.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Week of Sept. 11, 2017

Well, with the first week of school under our belts, things might soon settle into a routine here in the band room.  You never know...  Here are some things for your consideration for this week:

MONDAY, Sept. 11 - 
 - "Meet the Teacher Night."  4-6 p.m.  You are all more than welcome to come in and visit, but most of you have met me before.  If you haven't been to the HS band room yet, this is your chance.
 - REHEARSAL 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. at the stadium

TUESDAY, Sept. 12 - Color guard 7 - 9 p.m. in the band room

FRIDAY, Sept. 15 - Home football - TRACK BAND 5:45 p.m.

Our first full-uniform, required performance will be on Friday, Sept. 22  Details will be given in various ways both to students and parents prior to that time.  These include, but are probably not limited to:
 - How, when, and where to put on uniforms
 - Where to find new shoes, gloves, plumes, etc.
 - How to act and perform while in uniform representing the school
 - Requests for bottled water to be provided for the band
 - Requests for assistance with uniforms and field equipment
 - Expectations of time when we are finished

The first three items above will be communicated exclusively to students; the remaining will be combined between students and parents, which brings up...

I have actually been accused, believe it or not, of over-communicating.  Via this blog, email, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to the old-fashioned "word of mouth that kids have to pay attention to," word gets out frequently and in many media.  Here are some thoughts about communication:
 - "Ask three before you ask me."  I use this one with students in class, etc. as a way to not answer things that someone else can answer.  Things like "what time is the game," "do we have rehearsal tonight," "where do I report," etc. are things that are communicated via one of the above methods, and students need to know them.  If they forget, they need to ask a friend, section leader, drum major, etc. With 200 students, I would be answering questions all day if we didn't have some sort of plan like this!  
 - The important stuff, though, like "I will be missing XXX because of YYY reason," can be sent directly to me by either parent or student either in person or by email.  Parents, I strongly encourage you to let your children do this before you get involved.  It teaches them important skills that they will need as they reach adulthood, so they might as well practice now!
 - Facebook and Twitter kind of need to be "one-way" tools - if you send a Facebook message via the FB band page, I might not see it; same with Twitter.
 - Remind is absolutely a one-way tool for me.  As convenient as it is to use it as a text messaging app, I just can't do it.  As with email, I need time to not be a teacher.  In addition to that idea, too many messages in too many places is asking for me to forget things.  If they are in my email inbox, I have them all in one place.
 - EMAIL is my very favorite method of parent and student communication.  It is the most efficient and is easily organized.  I read emails when I am in school.  Once I am gone for the day, usually around 3:30 p.m., I don't check them until the next day.  When I arrive at school at 6:25 a.m., the first thing I do is check my email.  If it is possible to reply immediately, that is what I do.  If I need to do some further research, like speak with a coach or another teacher, then I reply as soon as I can.  If you send an email that says your child will miss a performance that is more than a month away, I may not reply right away at all due to the lengthy timeline available.
This system has worked well for me for a few years now, especially since we were issued iPads.  In our 24-hour connected world, I need to disconnect from my job (and firmly believe that everyone else needs to as well) in order to remain at least partially sane.

We should be finishing up the halftime show Monday night, and we always do a run-through of whatever we've accomplished around 8:30.  If you'd like to come and see it, since you didn't get to at band camp, Monday might be a good chance to do so!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

First Weeks of School 2017-18

As summer winds down and school winds up, here are a few items for the next couple of weeks to help you navigate what is going on in the band room.

Schedule-wise, we have three Track Band events in the next couple weeks - this Friday, Sept. 1, and next Fri/Sat, Sept. 8 and 9.  Track Band is a volunteer organization to which all students are welcome.  It's a more informal game day situation - no uniforms, no marching - just playing songs and having fun on the track by the student section.  Report time is 5:45 p.m. in the BAND ROOM to prepare for the game.  Ideally students would wear band shirts or school colors, but there is no required outfit.

MONDAY NIGHTS continue to happen.  There are only five more before festival now!  Labor Day we will have off, and then we start back up on Sept. 11.  All students are expected to attend as outlined in the course description and syllabus; athletes are excused for games only, and if possible are expected to get to rehearsal after their events.  I understand that sports practices sometimes go until 5:30/6:00, so that means your child maybe eats a very fast dinner and arrives to band practice still sweating without a shower.  

JAZZ BAND will not meet on Tuesday, Sept. 5 for the first day of school, but will start on Wednesday morning at 6:45 a.m.  The band room door from the parking lot will be open for students to enter.  Other doors may be open as well, but I am not sure what the plans are at this point for the new EHS entrances.  The jazz class list can be found here - - there was some confusion last week, but it should be straightened out now.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL activities will not involve instruments, but students may bring them and claim a locker on Wednesday (Day 2).  This will allow the "seniority" factor to apply - seniors get first choice, etc.  Color Guard will not need instruments at school until mid-October unless they are in Wind Ensemble.  

I received the email from the MSBOA state office literally moments ago outlining the requirements for auditioning for the MSBOA All-State ensembles.  I will get information out to students next week.  This is not for everyone; if your child is interested, please have him/her contact me so we can talk about it.

I will once again be sponsoring the ZHS Mountain Bike Club for interested students.  See me for more information.

I think that covers things for now.  I am working on freshman names, but as usual do not hold out much hope for myself before late September!  I am up to maybe 10%.  20 on a good day.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Welcome Back!

It's Monday morning and I'm sitting in my office between a meeting and working at the bike shop, so I thought I'd take some time and write a quick post about upcoming events, etc.

The end of camp was NOT what any of us wanted!  I do like some closure, and the disjointed timing and weather issues with Friday's camp day totally prevented that.  It is always cool for the kids (and me...) to show off for the parents and have an "ending" to the week, but we made the best of it.  Thanks to parents and kids for being flexible with rides, etc. on that day.  

On the bright side, it was a great week of camp and we got a lot done.  We made it through the whole show by Thursday afternoon, which is our usual pace/goal, so Friday was not a problem at all.  (Other than the freezing cold rain, I mean...)  The music is sounding great and the visuals are coming along; I think it is going to be a great show.

TONIGHT is our first Monday rehearsal.  We will be reviewing the show at the stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m.  Plan to drop off and pick up from the stadium.  TUBAS are back at the band room parking lot (still in the trailer due to Friday's weather issues), so kids need to stop there first.  Tubas and drumline equipment need to get back to the band room after rehearsal each night.

Tomorrow the color guard will again have a session.  They meet in the band room from 7 - 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY is NEW this summer.  For many years I've tried to make pre-game a better experience for everyone - band, fans, team, etc.  And every year it gets put to the back burner as other priorities become more important.  With our daily school schedule it is virtually impossible to run a pre-game rehearsal, so I decided to add a couple nights in August.  We will meet at the stadium at 6:30.  Varsity football players are not required to attend, since they'd be at games when this goes on the field.  We will work on a pre-game routine as well as music for the school songs, the "Big Z Fanfare," the national anthem, and some stand cheers (download everything you need -  I'm hoping we can get something on the field that the crowd can respond to; we may even try to bring back "Script Chix."  We'll see.

That should do it for this week.  According to our superintendent, only about 35% of mass emails are ever opened, and Monday is the worst day to send them  Guess what day it is...

Let me know if you have any questions -


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tulip Time 2017

Here are (hopefully) all the (hopefully) final details you should need for the Tulip Time performances to be successful and efficient.  Everything starts next week!

Tuesday, May 9 - "Dazzle" show at Central Wesleyan Church.  This is for jazz band and the Have You Heard percussion group only.  Rehearsal Tuesday morning at the church.  Meet in the band room at 7:15 so we can load the bus/trailer and leave by 7:45.  Show time Tuesday night is 8:00 p.m.  Specific details regarding report times will be given in class (because I don't know them yet).

PARADES on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday:

We will be at school each day dressed and ready to go by 12:45.  Please allow yourselves plenty of time to arrive at school, find your uniforms, and get dressed.  Students may elect to stay after school on Wednesday and Thursday until the buses leave, but I would honestly prefer that they don't.  On Saturday the building will be open by noon for students to arrive and get dressed.

Lineup information can be found here:
 - Wednesday:
  - Thursday:
  - Saturday:

On Wednesday and Thursday the band will be meeting in the general vicinity of Columbia Avenue and 9th/10th Streets for those, such as Dutch Dancers, who need to meet us at the start of the parade.  On Saturday we line up on the north side of 8th St. again, next to Pizza Hut.

  • In case of inclement weather, only the Thursday parade has an option for being rescheduled to Friday.  Wednesday and Saturday parades are held unless there is severe weather, in which case they are canceled without a make-up date (I don't recall this ever happening in the 30+ years of parades I've done...).

If YOU are driving YOUR child and YOU are present at the end of the parade, all you need to do is find me and check out your child.  If you are driving OTHER students, THOSE STUDENTS must have a permission slip on file with me stating that they may ride with you.  Students may also choose to meet family members back on the parade route in the audience.  I attached the electronic file to the email for this blog link, and it can also be found here -  

  • DUTCH DANCERS should not be considered part of the transportation stuff - I consider Dutch dancers to be "on their own" due to all of their other time and travel commitments, so they are responsible for getting themselves to and from the parades and dance venues on their own unless they tell me otherwise.
  • If in doubt, fill it out!  Better to have too much paperwork than too little in this situation.
  • I prefer to have one sheet per parade day, but if you fill one out for all three days I will make do

There are several folks who are indeed missing a parade in order to participate in an athletic event.  I have heard from MOST of you - please do not assume that because one person on your team is excused, that I know that you are on the same team.  Special kudos to the West softball girls who have been on top of this situation for a few weeks!  If I have not heard from you regarding an athletic conflict, I assume there is no problem and that you will be marching.

As we have discussed in class, you are representing yourselves, your band, your school, your community, and in some cases the State of Michigan.  Remember that an interaction that you have with a tourist or community member may be the only one they have with Zeeland.  Make a good impression!  

  • Your uniform is to be completely ON or completely OFF after the parade.  No unzipped coats (take it off if you're too hot) or other variations of the uniform.  Hats and gloves may be removed without concern.
  • If you are walking back on the parade route to meet someone after the parade, make sure to walk behind the audience.
  • Plan to transport your instruments to the parades in their cases.  Uncased instruments on the buses invite damage and unnecessary temptation to play them, both of which would be bad.
  • ALL BAND MEMBERS need crew-length WHITE socks.  (<<I wish I could make that sentence flash and shoot lightning bolts and stuff...)
  • I strongly recommend that all students wear earplugs during the parades.
That should cover it, I believe.  If you have questions, please feel free to email me -

Friday, April 21, 2017

April/May 2017 - Pre-Tulip Time Edition

"Spring has sprung and the grass is ris'n..."  There are lots of ways to complete that couplet, and I can't think of any that rhyme with "Tulip"...  Anyway, there is plenty going on around the band room, so I thought it would be a good idea to get another blog post up.  There will be a separate one at a later date for Tulip Time final details, which are not complete yet - lineups are not available from the TT office.

 - Final playing tests are DUE next Tuesday, April 25.  Students have had these materials for several weeks now (made available prior to spring break), and have been informed of due dates, etc.

 - Jazz Band auditions are DUE on Friday, April 28.  We are re-auditioning all students this year in addition to any incoming freshmen.  Again, students are aware of this and have had their materials.

 - There will be a MONDAY REHEARSAL for Tulip Time on Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m.  Rain date will be Monday, May 8, same time.

 - The final concert for the Wind Ensemble will be on Wednesday, May 17 at Lokers Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.  

 - Tulip Time parades are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, May 10, 11, and 13.  All parades begin at 2:00 p.m.

 - The jazz band and the "Have You Heard" percussion ensemble students will perform at Tulip Time's "Dazzle!" production on Tuesday, May 9 at Central Wesleyan Church.  The concert begins at 8:00 p.m.

 - We have moved the final jazz band concert date and location.  The new date is Saturday, May 27 at the Lawrence Street Park band shell.  The concert will begin at 3:00 p.m.

 - Graduation performances are May 31 and June 1.  Concert Band and Symphonic Band will be performing - one each night.

Students were given playing test materials for this prior to spring break, as mentioned above.  This playing test gives me an opportunity to evaluate each student on several different aspects of their playing, and is a good comparison from the beginning of the year.  This year, as last, students are submitting their tests via Google Classroom using their iPads.  
In addition to this being a playing test, it is also a placement test for concert band season for next year.  As you know, we have three concert bands at ZHS: the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band.  We try to place students where they will have the most success on their instruments and learn and improve the most. while still being conscious that each band needs a balanced instrumentation and overall sound.  I consider the Wind Ensemble to be AP Band.  This class is truly not for everyone.  They perform five concerts per year in addition to all of the marching band responsibilities, and are expected to be good sight readers and learn their parts.  Most students find the music very challenging.

This spring looks to be a banner year in the jazz department, with nearly 30 students signed up to audition for 18-19 slots.  I would like to hear all of the current students in addition to the newcomers.  My goal is to be able to offer an alternative to the jazz class, in the form of a club, for students who do not get placed in the class.  I would like everyone to have the opportunity to play, so I will do what I can to make things happen for everyone.  We don't quite have enough players for two complete bands, but there are far too many for only one, as this group has limited instrumentation.

Since the marching band full unit rehearses as four separate class hours, it is necessary that we get together for the parades before Tulip Time.  My plan is for about a 90-minute rehearsal from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. on Monday, May 1.  Since all four classes have been working on things, it should be quite easy to get things put together.  Athletes should plan on getting to school as soon as they can.  I realize that some people will have to miss, so we will make do.  Rain date for this will be Monday, May 8.

Both the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble have one more concert this school year.  The Wind Ensemble will perform on Wednesday, May 17 at Lokers Auditorium.  Much to the delight of most of the woodwind section, we are performing all 19th and early 20th century music (and even one from 1715 or so).

The Jazz Band, originally scheduled on the same date as the Wind Ensemble, decided to do something a little more fun and host an outdoor concert.  As you know, finding a date that every single kid/family could make it proved nearly impossible.  We finally settled on Saturday, May 27 (yes, Memorial Day weekend - they figured they'd be around for marching Monday, anyway) at the band shell at Lawrence St. Park at 3:00 p.m.

Speaking of dates, the band calendar for 2017-18 will be published by May 15.  This calendar will be thoroughly vetted and researched, and checked by Cathy Lugten and Andrew Patten before I send it out.  It is my sincere hope that my calendar disability will be limited to the current school year and I will be cured in the future!  My apologies again for the various changes we made; some were due simply to my error, others came up due to unforeseen circumstances based on making a calendar over a year in advance.  The errors this year enabled me to plan better for next year, and we should have our Dux and Chix in a row!  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 2017

Since March is national Music in our Schools Month, it seems only natural to get these kids off the streets and onto the stage and have them perform about once a week or so for the entire month!  This post should help you navigate the waters over the next few weeks to make sure everyone is where they belong.

THIS WEEK:  Legally Blonde: the Musical will be staged Wednesday through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Several band students are participating either on stage, back stage, or in the pit orchestra.  Tickets are on sale now via Cathy Lugten at 616-748-3111.  

Saturday, March 18: MSBOA State Solo and Ensemble festival at Portage Northern High School.  We have a fair number of solos and ensembles participating again this year; the only negative is that it's in Portage and not at Grandville or West Ottawa!  Today's email from MSBOA promises the schedule will be available by tomorrow afternoon.  I will distribute the schedule online via Google Classroom as well as email to parents.

Sunday, March 19:  Several Percussion Ensemble students will be assisting the Holland Symphony Orchestra at their instrument demonstration area for the HSO Family Concert at DeWitt Auditorium.  These students will then perform at the opening of the HSO concert.  (This involves students who are performing in "Have You Heard.")

Saturday, March 25:  Our annual Guest Artist Series concert with the high school and middle school jazz bands.  Join three jazz groups as they perform great music with guest artist Dr. Nathan Warner at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt Auditorium.  Dr. Warner is the trumpet professor at Lee University in Tennessee, and spent many years in New York City as a freelance trumpet artist.  Admission is $7.00 per person to help offset costs.

Sunday, March 26:  The high school Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble present their annual spring concert at 2:00 p.m. in DeWitt.  Dr. Warner will join the HS Symphonic Band for Leroy Anderson's "A Trumpeter's Lullaby," and all three bands will perform.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, March 28:  The ZHS Percussion Ensemble will perform in their annual concert at 7:00 p.m. in DeWitt.  See what the percussion section does when they are not the drumline or standing in the back of the band.  Lots of great music from Mozart to modern.

And after that?  I sure hope spring break is nice...  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Since not all students are involved in every event listed, it will also help to ask them when they are playing and for what.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January Concert(s) Details

Looks like winter is once again upon us as I write this post; here's hoping that everyone stays warm and comfortable over the next couple weeks as we prepare for our two concerts coming up.  This note includes as many details as I can think of at the moment:

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 - Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble concert - 2:00 p.m., DeWitt Auditorium.
This is the bands' annual winter concert, and each performing ensemble will present music that we've been working on this term.  
 - Report time: Concert Band and Percussion Ensemble - 1:30; Symphonic Band - 1:45; Wind Ensemble - 2:00
 - Apparel: Concert Band students will wear black pants or skirts with white tops.  Black shoes, black socks.  Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will wear school tuxes/skirts; black shoes and socks for boys, black shoes for girls (hosiery is left to your discretion).  Percussion Ensemble will wear all black.  (I prefer a long-sleeve shirt, but as long as it is all black you will be fine.)
 - This is a required performance for all students.

MONDAY, JANUARY 16 - Jazz Band combo concert, Drama Room at ZEHS, 7:00 p.m.
This concert is a team collaboration between Mr. Miller's Technical Theater class and the jazz band.  The band has been working on performing in small jazz combos and focusing on improvisation; the theater class has been working on lighting and sound reinforcement (amps and mics) for a live performance.  Mr. Miller suggested we combine forces, and the result will be this informal concert.  All jazz students will perform at least one improvised solo that evening, which is something slightly less terrifying than public speaking (did I say "less"?  I meant "more"...).  
 - Apparel:  All black, as we did for our November concert
 - Report time - 6:40 p.m.

Admission to both of these events is free; we hope to see many people in the audience!