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 ­čÖé

Until next time…

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┬ásoon (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┬áre-purposed┬áthe 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┬álinklog 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!

I’ve Been Busy…

Well it’s been almost three months since I’ve posted here and I’m feeling, in a word, ashamed about it. This was intended to become a blog to chronicle the goings-on of my life, and has turned into a dormant feed filled with old thoughts and outdated information. So while I try to figure out how to increase my posting frequency here (any/all suggestions on what topics you want me to write on are welcome!), here are a few updates on what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been posting here:

  1. New Website Design – As you may have noticed, my website has a new design! I chose this for a few reasons: first, I want this website to act as my virtual resume and portfolio, so I chose to showcase my “vitals” on the homepage as opposed to displaying outdated blog posts. Secondly, and on that note, I try to “market” myself as someone interested social media/blogging in music education. While I do have a regularly updated professional blog, I thought it was a poor representation of me to have my personal homepage display a very outdated blog. Finally, I wanted to add more social media integration into my site, which I have done through the Twitter integration on the homepage, and my new “Connect” page. If you have any other thoughts/suggestions about the new design, please feel free to let me know!
  2. Personal Life – This summer has been fairly low-key for me, as I’ve been working two jobs. The first is a 9-5 day job at the IT Service Desk for the UM School of Business Administration. This job lets me exercise my “techie” side, as I help professors and business students troubleshoot their technology issues. My other job is for the Frost School of Music, working in the concert halls as an usher/set-up-person/whatever-else-they-need. Outside of work, I celebrated one year with Liz in early June, and I’m already gearing up for next school year!
  3. Online Activities – I have been very busy online since my last post. On Twitter, I created #MusEdChat, an online twitter chat for Music Educators. The chat has gained a significant amount of popularity, and I had the opportunity to give a short presentation about it while I was in Washington, D.C. for MENC’s Music Education Week in June (I live-blogged the event with three other pre-service music teachers). Additionally, I have been continuing my posts at MusicEdMajor.net, with the help of my co-editor Andy Ritenour. Finally, I have been participating as a member of the launch team for the new MusicPLN, which launches tomorrow at noon. It has been an incredible project, and I would encourage any Music Educators (or Music Ed Majors) to join us!
  4. The Future… Scary isn’t it? I only have one year left of school before I’m out there on my own, doing who-knows-what! I’ve spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what I’m going to do come June, and I’m still not completely decided, but I know in my first few years out of my undergrad, I want to do two things: teach high school band (and music technology, if possible), and start a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. Whether I pursue this degree full-time and if I start it right away remains to be seen, but as I’ve spent more time exploring technology for music education, it has become clear to me that this is the way I want to take my career. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about my future and a call for advice soon!

Holy cow! As I said, I’ve been busy. At any rate, that’s just a small sampling of what I’ve been up to over the past three months. I’ll try my best to keep this blog updated more frequently over the coming months, as well. If you would like me to blog about any specific topics, please leave a comment, and I would be happy to oblige!

P.S. – Only three days until I celebrate the first anniversary of my 21st birthday!

Finding the Balance

As many of you know, I recently launched a new website, MusicEdMajor.net, geared towards providing news, resources, and tips for music education majors. This has been an incredible experience for me, and I have been fortunate enough to have seen the website receive a very warm reception by the community. The new site, however, has also created an additional time commitment for the blogging component of my life, which brings me to my point.

I began this site almost two years ago, and have published nearly 300 posts here. This had been my only home online, and has been a source of great growth in my thinking, my voice, and my writing. In the past weeks, however, I have been concentrating almost all of my blogging efforts on MusicEdMajor.net. Part of this is understandable–this site has been around for two years, is personal, and already has a readership (albeit small), while the other site is brand new, is more professional in purpose, and is still developing a readership. Does that, however, give me the right to almost completely neglect this site?

I really should clarify that statement–I am not neglecting this site, at least intentionally. I have been reminded multiple times by multiple people that I should not shift my focus entirely away from here, and have even started writing posts here a few times since the launch of MusicEdMajor.net. I don’t want to stop posting here. However, my philosophy towards blogging/writing has been that it must be something that comes from the heart, something that I’m motivated to do. Recently, that motivation has come on the professional side, and been channeled to my new site. The reason none of the posts I began were finished here over the past few weeks was that they all felt forced, they didn’t feel as though they were being written from the heart, as I feel each blog post deserves.

So how do I find the balance? I don’t want to stop writing here, by any means, but I really do enjoy my work at MusicEdMajor.net as well, and want to continue to see it grow. Will my motivation to write here increase as the school year begins in just over a month, or will the beginning of my Music Ed methods classes in the fall motivate me to write more on my new site? I don’t know the answers to these questions, and would invite your suggestions, if you have them, on what I could do about this. For now, I will make it my effort to share any exciting goings-on from my life with you here on as consistent a basis as I can.

Thank you to those of you who have been with me from the beginning for your continued readership, and thank you to those of you newcomers for taking an interest in what I have to say. Until next time…

Podcast Idea

Recently, I have done a lot of traveling, both on the road and in the air. I have become very familiar with the contents of my iPod-consisting of over 80% music and the other 20% videos, apps, and other files-during these travels. One feature of the iPod, however, that I hadn’t explored much in the past was the option of listening to podcasts. Despite the large volume of music I have, I have been listening to spoken-word podcasts almost exclusively during my trips. I subscribe to and download the podcasts using iTunes, and have configured the software to transfer the five most recent episodes of each podcast whenever I sync my iPod. The podcasts I currently subscribe to are:

All of these podcasts share fantastic thoughts on their specific subjects, and explore their niches with excitement and vigor. Many of these presenters also have blogs in their niche, which are the premier blogs on the subjects. The content is fresh, exciting, and extremely useful to the target audience.

This got me thinking, though. What makes these blogs and podcasts so successful is the appeal they have to their target audience. This is not a surprise; most successful ventures in any field are successful because they cater to the audience that they are designed for.

My blog, however, is unique in the fact that it has a few target audiences: namely music educators and people just generally interested in my life. Perhaps my blog’s readership isn’t as high because I don’t have a specific focus, but I like it this way; I have the opportunity to write about whatever comes to mind, without having to worry about turning away readers by writing an “off-topic” post. Another unique feature of my blog, especially the Music Education Blogger side of it, is that some of my posts discuss aspects of teaching music, while I haven’t ever actually held a job as a teacher! I try to bring as many ideas and thoughts as I can to the table considering my lack of experience, but I can’t by any means be considered an “expert” in that field, like Dr. Pisano could in the field of music technology, for example.

So what am I an expert in? Realistically speaking, nothing, but I feel I have a lot of experience at actually being a collegiate Music Education student. I’m not claiming to be an expert at the content we learn in our collegiate courses, but instead I am referring to my knowledge of the experiences that Music Education students have in the collegiate level, and my involvement in the field from a collegiate perspective. Is there a market for collegiate Music Educators who are interested in more information about opportunities to take advantage of, or other suggestions for their specific demographic? I think there is; there is a even professional organization dedicated to this-the Collegiate Music Educator’s National Conference (CMENC). CMENC is the collegiate sub-organization of MENC-The National Association for Music Education, and is the umbrella organization for the FCMENC chapter at UMiami, on which I currently serve as President-Elect.

I don’t want to add another “category” of posts on my blog, though; I fear that writing on too many more subjects increases the risk that people interested in one specific topic will be turned away by the likelihood that a new post will not be on the topic they’re interested in. How, then, can I share my so-called “expertise” on the topic of being a collegiate music educator with other like-minded people?

My idea: I am thinking about starting a podcast on collegiate music education. The podcast would have an extremely loose schedule of being updated once a month, with the decision on when to do a new one being dictated by me and my schedule. Included in the podcast would be tips for college music education students on subjects such as time management and choosing a school, interviews with professors or other professionals with information to share about the music education degree process, and updates on opportunities for music education majors. Each episode of the podcast would be roughly 10-15 minutes in length.

One concern of mine is the time commitment that this would entail, but I am confident that the flexibility of the schedule, and the fact that I could post on my own time, will allow me to share my experiences with everyone while still taking care of my other obligations.

What do you think? Do you have experience publishing a podcast? What advice would you give? Are you a college student? What topics would you be interested in hearing discussed? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!