To build strong relationships with other teachers in your building is sometimes a struggle for young band directors. Stuck in our corner of the campus, working strange hours, it is easy to become isolated from the rest of the school community. Unfortunately, this also often fosters an attitude of “I work harder than everybody else and I (or my program) never get the credit that’s deserved!”
Begin by making an EFFORT! Don’t wait for others to come to you; get out of the band room! First, find out how your students are doing in their other classes (the ones they take when they’re NOT hanging around the band room). If you stress academic excellence AND musical excellence, you’ll strengthen your program, its reputation, and ultimately your students.
Next, PARTICIPATE in your school activities. Help with the talent show, skits at pep rallies, chaperone a dance or the prom, etc. See if you can do any cross-curricular activities with other departments: maybe patriotic music (perhaps with narration) with the theatre and history departments; help with a unit on sound with the science teacher. So many band selections reference literary or historical events you can easily make connections with other teachers and genuinely collaborate “across the curriculum.”
Also, make sure that you (and your students) INVITE faculty to your concerts and events! If they don’t know what’s happening, don’t expect them in the seats! Realize that this works the other way; when was the last time you went to a school sporting event or theatre production (or even choral or orchestra concert or art show from your department) that didn’t directly involve you?
Be a “TEAM” player in your school. Become the teacher that sets the example for students and for your colleagues!
About the Author
Dr. JEFFREY PHILLIPS is in his 29th year of teaching at Hendersonville High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where he is the Director of Fine Arts in addition to conducting the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band. He has also taught at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee and as adjunct trombone instructor at Western Kentucky University. He is in his 11th year on the Applied Music Faculty at Belmont University where he teaches the trombone studio and performs with the Belmont Faculty Brass Quintet. He has earned degrees from Middle Tennessee State University, Western Kentucky University, and Austin Peay State University, and California Coast University. As a performer, he remains active as a freelance trombonist in the Nashville area performing with groups such as the Jack Daniels Silver Cornet Band, the Nashville Wind Ensemble and the Nashville Symphony. Phillips has conducted clinics throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi for students in middle school through college and is active as an adjudicator for music groups of all genres throughout the Southeast. In 2012, he founded the Sumner County Community Concert Band which he conducts. He has served as President of the Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, served two years as the TMEA State Band Chair and served two years as the National Treasurer for the American School Band Directors Association. He was elected President-elect for the ASBDA and served the office of President of ASBDA for the 2008-2009 year. He is currently the President of the Tennessee Music Education Association. Phillips is also a Jupiter Band Instrument Performing Artist and Educational Clinician and performs on Jupiter and XO trombones and euphoniums exclusively.
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