Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year-the year designed to challenge you and your students to a whole new level. It is as if we were playing the video game of band directing and we’ve wandered into a secret world with new tools, passages to other worlds, or levels-- unlocking a secret character or even entire locations that are invisible to the unseasoned director. A new world where the narrative can take you on a whole journey of emotions and surprises you weren’t expecting.
In this new world we must understand that our training and experience in “normal” times has given us all the musical expertise needed to create new ideas about music that can be delivered to students in multiple modes. As exhausting as it is, it is time for us to step up our creative game and find new ways to connect students through band. We must remember that students are in a band to “play” an instrument, not “work” an instrument. Do what you can to keep the joy in music making. That might mean different things for your classroom compared to that of your colleagues at other schools. It is ok. Sometimes our students, and we as teachers, just need time to have fun and be creative.
It’s nerve-wracking to turn kids loose to create. How do you structure that lesson? What’s the learning objective? What if students create inferior products (as they certainly will, at first)? Must you grade them?
Take a deep breath. It’s ok. We have a saying at our house. “Remember, it’s just band!” We musicians tend to overthink things, thrive on planning, and care way more about everything than what is sometimes healthy! Talk about your goals for the year with your students. Focus on what you CAN do this year instead of what you CAN’T.
As we look at the year for IBA, without a doubt, things will be different. Students will have the opportunity to apply for an honorary All-Region and All-District band. Although the ensemble will not perform, as in other years, the group will provide a much needed recognition for students. Jr. All State auditions will proceed, but the ultimate performance situation for the ensemble might look different. IMEA will be making a decision in the coming months about the fate of the professional development conference. In the, seemingly likely, event that the in-person conference is cancelled, we will look to produce a virtual ensemble performance. Board members will be watching events unfold and looking at the safety of the High School Al State events and making decisions when the time comes to execute auditions.
Let me begin by congratulating Myron Snuffin on his retirement! Although no longer in the classroom, Myron will continue to support the mission of IBA through service to our organization as Secretary/Treasurer. I would also like to welcome several new board members to the leadership team of IBA. Nathaniel Simpson will continue in his role as Area 3 JH/MS Representative, and Andrew Keiser will assume the position of Area 1 HS representative.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding. The leadership of IBA will work to create opportunities for collegiality, education, and opportunities for our members and students. If you are interested in being more active in IBA, please feel free to reach out to me or one of the board members for more information.