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  • History of the Joliet Township High School Band Part Two: “A Sound Tradition”

    Tom Merrill | January 10, 2019

    Last month we introduced you to the directors of the Joliet Township High School band, and the lineage that links the present with the origin of the program a century ago. This month we continue the history with those that have shaped and influenced its course.

  • History of the Joliet Township High School Band Part One — “Family”

    Tom Merrill | December 4, 2018

    It all started with a pig. It was somewhere around 1895, and a 14-year old farm teen in Jackson Township, Illinois wanted a new cornet.

  • Bid Should Be a Four-Letter Word

    Tom Merrill | November 4, 2018

    As a travel planner, it’s the phrase I always dreaded hearing on the other end of the phone: “The school makes me bid this out.”

  • Because of a Music Trip

    Tom Merrill | October 1, 2018

    My whole life started because of a music trip. Wait...that sounds worse than it is. What I mean is that so many of the incredible things that have become my life started because of a music trip.

  • Making Your Horses Thirsty

    Tom Merrill | August 30, 2018

    In my first year of teaching, the superintendent of schools told us the following: “You can lead a horse to water; you can’t make him drink. But you can put salt in his oats.” To be candid, the man was not a stellar administrator. But for some reason, for better or worse, this little tidbit has stuck with me for 30 years.

  • Does a Bugler Frack in the Woods?

    Tom Merrill | August 3, 2018

    Clarity comes in surprising places. This summer I spent a week at Boy Scout camp in the forest of northern Wisconsin. My son is working towards his Eagle Scout badge, with a deadline to achieve that by his 18th birthday next spring when he’ll age out. That meant this would be his final year at summer scout camp, and being an assistant scoutmaster with the troop I wanted us to spend this one last time together at Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan.

  • More Than You Can Chew and Even Harder to Swallow

    Tom Merrill | July 16, 2018

    It was one of those moments where stubbornness and inexperience collided head on.

  • What’s By Your Deck Chair? Suggested Summer Reading

    Tom Merrill | June 8, 2018

    Finally—summer. Congratulations…you have made it to the end of the school year and survived the sprint of final concerts, finishing grades, graduation, festival performances, spring musical, and any of the other activities that tend to get squeezed into the last four weeks of school.

  • Five Reasons Why You Should Take Your Ensemble on an International Tour

    Kate Huffman | June 8, 2018

    We all know the benefits of learning and performing music. Playing an instrument in an ensemble can improve a person’s sense of belonging and feeling of community, improve cognitive and motor skills, and help people form lifelong friendships.

  • The Importance of Our Ancestry

    Tom Merrill | April 6, 2018

    A story was relayed to me by a band director friend. She was at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and while walking through McCormick Place overheard a portion of a conversation between a group of young band directors.

  • Travel Planning: Budget Myth Busting—Part 3

    Tom Merrill | March 2, 2018

    In this final (for now, anyway) installment of this series, we’ll discuss some myths related to motorcoach travel and expectations at hotels when traveling with your ensemble.

  • Travel Planning Budget Myth Busting—Part 2

    Tom Merrill | February 2, 2018

    In the last issue we started to tackle some budget-related student travel myths, to help you as a director better address many of the typical questions parent boosters will pose during the travel planning process.

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