Turning a Corner

It has been a spring/summer of ups, downs, lefts, rights, and just about everything in between. But here we are in the middle of summer, and I’m seeing myself having turned a corner.

The spring semester was, of course, busy. But thanks to my commitment to work smarter, I found myself finishing this year significantly less stressed than I was back in December! Now, I look forward to jumping into the new year with a renewed sense of excitement and energy.

A few updates on the past few months:

  • We started a competitive winter colorguard this year, and in their first season the guard finished the year by taking 2nd place in their class at their final competition!
  • Jazz Band received a “Superior” rating at District Jazz evaluation (first time ever!), and went on to the State level to receive an “Excellent.”
  • Wind Ensemble received an “Excellent” at District Concert Band evaluation, on a very difficult program (probably too difficult by most accounts)
  • Two great concerts and the graduation of a very strong senior class finished out the school year for us….
  • …. but not before we were informed that our principal was being transferred to Miami Coral Park Senior HS (of all places… Coral Park is where I did my student teaching!). Our new principal is already here and has been a joy to work with so far!
  • Marching Band for the next year is already underway. The group is smaller due to a significant number of incoming seniors deciding they didn’t want to return for their last year. We’ll miss them, but we are moving on with a great show theme: “Mission: Accepted”

As for me? I’m looking forward to not having to move this summer (first time in 3 summers I haven’t had to do a major move!). Enjoying a lot of books, TV Shows, videogames, food, and sleep, as well as coming up with some very exciting new ideas/plans for the coming year – more on that later.

As I sit around, I of course find myself looking for something else to do… it’s been a while since I have undertaken an online project, but I think it’s time to get back in the swing of things! So, in addition to becoming more active on Twitter (Follow me at @Zweibz7!), I am pleased to introduce:

BandHacker: Tips and Tricks for the Organized Band Director

This is a series of posts I will be writing here on this website (perhaps to expand to a dedicated domain later on…) that will be geared towards the little things I do day in and day out to help me work smarter. It will include digital software, web apps, mobile apps, and “low tech” solutions that help me be more productive and organized so I can spend more time teaching and less time on everything else! I already have a bunch of ideas for posts, and am excited to share them with you all.

I’ll be posting as often as time permits, so be on the lookout on any and all of my social presences (by connecting with me) for links to new posts when they’re up! You can also view all my BandHacker posts at any point right here.

Don’t worry, though, this blog won’t be overtaken completely by BandHacker posts! There’ll still be the usual (albeit infrequent) interjection of “this is what my life is like” posts 🙂

Until next time…

On Starting A New Year…

It’s hard to believe how quickly the last year has gone by. Believe it or not, I am set to start my second year teaching (!!) in just a few short days! Don’t worry, Grandma Leila, I’ll make sure to shower early tomorrow night to avoid the night-before-the-first-day-of-school water shortage like you always remind me to do! It has been a whirlwind 8 months since my last post, which has included:

  • A “Superior” rating with my Wind Ensemble at school (the first “Superior” at the school in over 50 years!)
  • The loss of my beloved grandfather, Poppy Arnie, who I have written about here before
  • Watching my first group of seniors graduate
  • A few nostalgic trips home to Northbrook
  • A move into a new apartment
  • Finding out that my department chair, who hired me and has mentored me through the last year, will be leaving for a job in the district office (leaving me the senior-most member of the music faculty!)

So much has changed in the past year, both in my personal life and at work. It’s astounding how quickly you grow up once you’re in the “real world.” It may have only been 14 months since I graduated, but I feel many years older than the young 22 that I was when I graduated. That’s probably the job… After five years of teaching I will be 28 going on 40! Receding hair line and salt-and-pepper hair, here I come!

Truth be told, though, I am very excited for the coming year. My schedule at school is much more manageable (two planning periods, jazz band, wind ensemble, symphonic band, AP Music Theory, Intro to Music Theory, chorus), the “other” aspects of the band program (management, band boosters-which we now have, marching band, etc.) are much more comfortable to me, and I have great support from my administration.

Most importantly, though, I have finally turned the corner with my students as I set out to do at the beginning of 2012. I have established a great relationship with my band kids, and I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful group of students. When Poppy Arnie passed back in April, the outpouring of cards, flowers, texts, tweets, and well-wishes from my students was overwhelming. The love they showed reminded me why I enjoy my job so much. I truly feel like the luckiest band director in the world!

Outside of school I am excited for the year ahead, too. I finally live closer to my Miami friends so I will be able to spend more time with them rather than sitting around at home. Also, I plan to take more trips back to Northbrook this year… Now that I’m out of school, going “Home” doesn’t seem so bad anymore!

Anyway, I’m not sure there’s a “moral” to this post other than how quickly time flies! Hoping to post more frequent updates as the fall progresses, but I know I’ve made that promise before. We’ll see how things play out. Until next time!

It’s Quiet…

Too quiet!

Indeed, since I’ve gotten back from a short vacation after graduation, it has been very quiet here in South Florida. Having said goodbye to almost all of my close friends and finished my internship/school, things have slowed down a lot for me. Believe it or not, I’m BORED!

A few of the things I have been doing to keep myself occupied:

  • Applying to jobs. LOTS of them.
  • Working on my lesson plans for the Creative Music Project
  • Applying to more jobs.
  • Steamrolling through my Netflix queue (I’m currently watching all seven seasons of “The West Wing”)
  • Going to an occasional interview
  • Working out
  • Sleeping. A lot.

I know that once I have a job lined up things will get a lot busier very quickly. Until then, I’m trying to keep busy so I don’t dwell on how quiet it is here. Any other suggestions of ways to stay occupied are welcome!

What The Future Holds

Hey all! I know it’s been a while since I updated here, but just wanted to give a quick update on what I’m up to and on my future.

First, I’m excited to say I have officially finished my degree and graduated from the University of Miami! The past six months have been a complete whirlwind, between student teaching, graduation, job applications, and saying a lot of difficult goodbyes to my friends. They have, however, been some of the best months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

As I mentioned, I’m applying for jobs at the moment. I hope to have good news to report very soon (cross your fingers for me!), but for the time being I am trying to not divulge too much publicly about the positions I am being considered for. If you want more info about my job search, get in touch with me and I will let you know in a private conversation.

In addition to the job search, I am excited to be participating in two very exciting events this summer. First, I will be traveling to the Cayman Islands next week with the Creative Music Project to teach a week-long free music workshop to the students on the island. I’ll hopefully be able to provide some frequent updates during this trip, so if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay updated. Also, in late July I will be attending the University of Minnesota’s “Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium on a new teacher fellowship. I am extremely excited to learn from some of the best in the world!

If you follow me on Twitter (@Zweibz7), you likely know that I recently handed off the Editor-in-Chief position at MusicEdMajor.net to Andy Ritenour. I founded MusicEdMajor.net over two years ago and loved every minute of running it, but as I explained in my post announcing the move, it needs to be run by current Music Ed Majors. I have no doubt Andy will lead the website even better than I was able to in the next year.

What all this means…

This means I’m back to blogging right here! I have refreshed the look of my website (including adding a digital Portfolio), and re-purposed the blog to act a lot more like a “Tumblog.” What’s a tumblog?

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. – Wikipedia Article

In other words, expect to see more frequent but shorter posts here in the future. I hope to share random thoughts I have (called “Asides”), photos from places I go (in “Galleries”), and other media (videos, quotes, audio recordings, etc.). Some of it will be about Music Education, some of it will be random musings about my personal life.

Don’t forget, you can stay updated with what I’m posting here by subscribing to the feed for this blog.

Until next time!

Rethinking “Home”

My, how things come full circle sometimes.

Back in August of 2008, as I prepared for my second year here at UM, I wrote a post explaining how Miami had become my home… how this was now the place where my “domestic affections were centered.” Back then, I could not wait to leave my hometown of Northbrook, Illinois and come back to Miami. Don’t get me wrong – I never really minded being in the suburbs of Chicago, but I certainly didn’t look forward to leaving UM for Northbrook. Now, here I sit, on the eve of my last day of undergraduate classes before student teaching, just over 6 months from completion of my undergraduate degree, and I feel the exact opposite. I can’t wait to go back to Northbrook, my real home.

How long have I felt this way? It’s hard to say, but I would estimate that it’s been a few months, but it has been more obvious in the past few weeks. Why the change of heart? That’s even harder to say. It’s been a roller coaster of a semester for me, physically, academically, emotionally, and mentally, so I may just be burned out on this stage of life. This is also the longest single period of time that I have been away from Northbrook; I was last back for three days over Memorial Day weekend in May, and before that was very early January of this year. Additionally, I think the Miami mindset is finally getting to me. My patience has worn thin with people who don’t take others’ thoughts into consideration whatsoever, and who make idle commitments that they don’t follow though with. This, along with many other probably subconscious thoughts, has caused me to truly miss Northbrook for the first time in the four years I’ve been here.

I was never the homesick type. I adjusted to life away from Northbrook very easily back in ’07; probably a lot more easily than my folks would have liked! Maybe it’s because Miami was new and exciting. Maybe it’s because I wanted to get away, no matter where I was. But now, as I look back on my four years here (not a moment of which I regret, by the way, despite the tone of this post), I realize for the first time what being homesick is like. It’s missing the little things… being greeted by our yellow lab Angel each time you walk in the house, even though you know it will result in all your clothes being absolutely covered in dog hair… being pestered by your mother about finding a job, even though you secretly appreciate the kick in the behind and know she is doing it because she cares… getting to catch up with a sister who has been away at her first few years of college and you only get to see a few times a year… hanging out with the boys at Buffalo Wild Wings (affectionately called “B Dubs”), watching some UFC fight we don’t really care about because we’re only there for the wings and the friends (and don’t forget the potato wedges!). That’s home to me.

Mom, Dad, Jess, Angel, Jay, Aaron, Zurad… I miss you all and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.