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the last rehearsal

tonight i taught my last rehearsal of the 2002 Willamette marching band season.

it filled me with a lot of mixed emotions. After the poor competition we had at PCI, Mark and I were pretty depressed and frustrated about the whole thing. It seemed like the kids had reached a plateau. They didn't care about getting better. They weren't having fun, making the show theirs to take. And I put a lot of that blame on myself.

I mean, the kids are somewhat rowdy and lazy to begin with, partially because of the neighborhood they come from, partially because of the lax attitude of the band director when it comes to attendance, attention to detail, etc. etc. But for a few days, I started to seriously question my ability to teach, wondering if I had lost it, lost touch with how to relate to the kids, how to communicate to them and give them the desire to play well.

I had gone into tonight's rehearsal with a degree of resignation and emotional separation. I mean, rehearsals in the past couple of weeks had gone better, but there was still a degree of flakiness, laziness, lack of attention to detail.

But the more the rehearsal progressed, the more my resignation and emotional separation went away.

There were still issues. A couple people showing up late, some basic etiquette problems. But it was probably the *best* musical rehearsal we had all year. I mean, we kept on running large chunks of music over and over again, larger chunks than I normally do in a rehearsal. I pushed the kids *hard*, and they still maintained their focus. Things that used to be problems were suddenly gone. I kept on trying to find things to fix, and it was challenging. There were no glaring issues at all. There were small nitpicky things, but overall, they kept on doing solid rep after solid rep.

Even when it started raining, the first rain all season, the kids lost a small degree of focus, but they still tuned in to me, they still tuned into their task, and they still *performed*.

And it made me so happy. it helped remind me why I continue to teach and/or participate in any kind of marching athletics even after eleven or twelve years. it reaffirmed that mutual connection and love between me and those high school kids to whom i devote so much of my heart.

I hope they perform their asses off at finals on saturday.

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