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High School Band

  • All Jazzed Up with Nowhere to Go

    Mike Lawson | December 9, 2014

    Directors Really Do Make a Difference

    The year was 1982 and I was a high school sophomore. I had been playing guitar since I was nine years old, almost entirely self-taught. I didn’t really read notation. I understood rests, repeats, basic things like time signatures, and the difference between a treble and bass clef, but the ebony notes dancing along the staff were a mystery to me. I could, however, read guitar chord charts, and if I could hear a song played while looking at a chord chart, I could generally tackle it within one or two passes.

    The one thing that made me eager to start my sophomore year was the opportunity to audition for the jazz band. Jazz band was typically reserved for juniors and seniors. I knew the band director wanted a guitarist, but the odds of a sophomore passing the audition were dreadfully slim. I’d asked around and learned that there were no other guitarists in the high school who were interested in playing in jazz band, let alone capable of passing the audition. I contacted the band director and arranged for an audition before school started, and to my delight, I passed it.

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  • UpClose: Julie Bounds

    Mike Lawson | November 23, 2014

    Building A Band Worth Being A Part Of 

    Things are moving in the right direction for the Santa Teresa High School Band in San Jose, California. Under the guidance of director Julie Bounds, the opportunities for music students have expanded dramatically over the past decade, with the program doubling in membership and, in turn, new ensembles being formed to accommodate the influx of students. Santa Teresa’s current offerings include three concert bands, a competitive marching band, and three jazz bands, as well as percussion, guitar, ukulele, and other chamber-style groups. In addition, the band’s budget has gradually expanded from around $4,000 per year to over $100,000. Several years ago, Bounds started a blog titled “The Thrifty Band Director,” and she insists that the recent growth in capital hasn’t altered her fastidious efforts to maximize the return on every dollar spent, whether replacing instruments, purchasing new uniforms, or taking her band on the road. In this recent interview, Julie Bounds discusses the strategies she used to build a comprehensive program that her students feel is worth being a part of. 

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  • Guest Editorial: Fix the F#

    Mike Lawson | April 17, 2014

    Addressing Behavioral Issues in the Classroom

     

    When was the last time you had one of those days where you went home convinced you could set the world on fire if there was a way to make just a few key personnel changes in your band? 

    When I have one of these days, sometimes I speculate as if I were on some sports TV show. I wonder how good we could be if band was like professional sports, where the team’s management could put a few underperforming individuals on waivers and bring in some new blood. More often than not, the situations that frustrate us to no end, the ones that have us considering new careers and result in our students being in the doghouse, have very little to do with making music. Instead, these situations encompass the behavior and character issues associated with boys and girls who are in the developmental stages of becoming men and women.

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  • New SBO Feature: On the Road

    Mike Lawson | April 9, 2014

    Travel experiences from school band and orchestra directors

    Have you taken your school music groups on the road in the past year or two? How did it go? What did you and/or your students learn from the experience? What was the best part? The good, the bad, the funny, the life-affirming, and the death-defying, SBO wants to hear about it! Share your travel experience in 250 words or less for the chance to be included in an exciting new feature that will be debuting in an upcoming issue of SBO magazine.

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  • UpClose: Jim Sammons & Page Howell

    Mike Lawson | March 17, 2014

    The recruiting strategies that fuel the Vero Beach (Fla.) High School Band

    Located several hours north of Miami on a stretch of Eastern Florida nicknamed “the Treasure Coast,” Vero Beach is a picturesque seaside town that is home to one of the original, founding music programs in the Florida Bandmasters Association. Headed for over three decades by Jim Sammons, who was inducted into the FBA hall of fame last November, and associate director Page Howell, who has been on board for the past eight years, the Vero Beach High School band program is a model for success in a community that faces similar hurdles to many other small town school music programs throughout the country. The “Spirit of Vero Beach” includes competitive marching and concert ensembles and strives to stay on the cutting edge of musical instruction and performance, while combating challenges like a limited budget, geographic isolation, and increasing competition for students’ time from a wide range of activities available in their school and community.

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