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!

2012 Goals

I hate the phrase “new year’s resolution.” It seems silly that we should pick one day per year to “resolve” to do something on the first day of the year, as if to say the first day of January is somehow more special than any other normal day. Think of it… how many “new year’s resolutions” have we all made? Have we followed through on them? Here are some of the resolutions I have not followed through on the past few years:

  • Work out for at least a little bit every day
  • Take more pictures with my digital camera (I touched it for the first time in MONTHS this December)
  • Project 365 (one photo per day, all year turned into one photo per week, turned into no photos after March!)
  • Practice my trumpet more

I don’t know what the difference in my mind between the phrase “new year’s resolution” and “goals” is, but somehow setting goals for the upcoming year seems to make more sense, and since I was inspired by Julie Manfredi‘s post of her own goals for 2012, I figured I would take a crack at writing down my own. Maybe this will help hold me accountable… or maybe not! Anyway, here goes:

  1. Smile more often – 2011 was a great year for me, but the past few months have been deflating as I started a new job as the band director at South Dade Senior High School. I know any band director transition is difficult, and the transition to living on my own with not as many friends around as I’m used to has been trying for me as well. I hope to smile more often this year, both by thinking about things more positively and by creating more positive experiences for myself through improvements at work and at home. Plus, smiles are contagious!
  2. Work out at least 3 times per week – I like to set attainable goals, and I think working out every day wasn’t attainable given my schedule. After all, I’m not going to want to do even a fifteen-minute set with the weights after getting home from 14 hours of band camp! 3 times per week is much more attainable.
  3. Turn the corner at school – The transition to a new director has been a trying one on both me and my students. I hope to turn the corner this spring in terms of my relationship with my students. Now that my feet are more solidly planted on the ground, I think we will be able to work together much more effectively.
  4. Become more active in my PLN – One of the major cutbacks I had to make in my life during the first few months of teaching was the amount of time I spent interacting with my online Professional Learning Network. I basically abandoned the #MusEdChat Twitter chat (HUGE thanks to @jguarr and the gang for keeping it going), and disappeared from the online Music Education world. I hope to jump back in and continue growing as an educator by learning from these wonderful, passionate individuals!
  5. Keep in touch with the people I care about – I have lost touch with a lot of people I care immensely about over the past year. I have never been very good at keeping in touch with my extended family, and now that most of my friends are spread out everywhere from Nashville to California to Kuwait, it has been hard keeping in touch with everyone I care about. I am hoping to change that this year.

There you have it! Plain and simple, and I think they’re all attainable, too! Here’s to a happy, productive, and healthy 2012 for all 🙂

“The Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium

After an enjoyable end to my Cayman trip (sorry for the lack of updates!), moving out, and a LONG drive, I’m here in Minnesota getting ready to attend the University of Minnesota’s “The Art of Wind Band Teaching” Symposium starting this afternoon in Minneapolis! I was originally accepted to the Symposium with a new teacher/college student fellowship that offered a reduced registration fee, but soon after also was offered the opportunity to participate in a conducting fellowship workshop during the Symposium! I am looking forward to a wonderful week of learning, exploring, and meeting great new people.

The star-studded clinician line-up for the “AWBT” Symposium is a who’s who of American Wind Band composers/conductors:

  • Craig Kirchhoff, University of Minnesota
  • Frank Ticheli, University of Southern California
  • Richard Floyd, University of Texas
  • Richard Mayne, University of Northern Colorado
  • Allan McMurray, University of Colorado
  • Marianne Ploger, Vanderbilt University
  • Timothy Diem, University of Minnesota
  • Alexander Fiterstein, University of Minnesota
  • Shelley Hanson, composer
  • Libby Larsen, Composer
  • Jerry Luckhardt, University of Minnesota
  • Alicia Neal, University of Minnesota
  • Laura Sindberg, University of Minnesota
  • Jim Cochran, Shattinger Music

I’m looking forward to meeting and working with these great minds, as well as meeting some of the great people in my Professional Learning Network for the first time. You can stay updated on my experiences by following me on Twitter @Zweibz7, where I will be using the #AWBT11 hashtag to update as often as I can from the sessions.

As an aside, if you are on Google+, consider adding my profile to one of your circles! I’m still not sure if Google+ will catch on and I’m very unsure of how I plan to use it, but it has been a great resource for more long-form discussion so far!

Greetings From Cayman!

Greetings, all, from paradise! I write to you as I’m sitting on the back porch of our beautiful house here on Grand Cayman after having spent two days here getting ready for the Creative Music Project to begin next week! It has been a busy few days, but here’s the short version of some of the stuff we’ve done since we got here:

  • Lunch at a patio restaurant on the ocean
  • Phone calls to parents confirming their students’ attendance next week
  • Unpacking in our beautiful house (pictures below)
  • Setting up my technology room for next week’s classes
  • Lunch at one of the popular places “in town”
  • My first time ever eating sushi!

Today, we’re getting ready to pick up the rest of the group (five of us came out a few days early to set up) and be tourists for the weekends before we get to work next week! I have some pictures uploading right now – they should be up soon!