Friday, April 17, 2020

Updates From This Week's Web Chats

It was great to see so many smiling faces during the web chats this week! If you couldn't attend, don't worry, we'll do it again in a couple of weeks. I was happy to see about 1/3 to 1/2 of the band students, and it was good to hear that so far everyone is healthy. I talked about some updated information during the web chats, so I am posting that info here for anyone who needs it.

Next Year's Show Theme - I know you're all excited to find out what our show theme will be for next year! I'm putting the finishing touches on that and putting it all together into a Google Slides PowerPoint-style presentation that I can share with you online. I'll try to have that up next week.
Instruments - If your instrument is in the Band Room (either CHS or CMS), Mr. Fortner & I will develop a mechanism for you to get those once the state's shelter-in-place order has been lifted. You'll be able to get those as soon as it's safely possible.
Marching Band Google Classroom - I have set up a Google Classroom for band. There is some music in there and more will be added later. (Next year's show music will be there when it's ready.) I'm posting the daily musical birthdays and music history, and cool web pages & videos that are music-related. If you haven't yet, please sign up for our Google Classroom so we can show that we are still doing something educational during this downtime. The code is: a7wlpjp. There is no work that you will have to complete, and nothing will be graded.
● Drum Major Tryouts - Mr. Fortner is heading up the Drum Major tryouts. If you want to participate, you should be a current freshman, sophomore, or junior, and you should be in the Drum Major Tryout Google Classroom. Mr. Fortner is posting both leadership and conducting information that you will need in order to tryout for next's year's Drum Major position. The code for the Google Classroom is: jmqrgw5.
Officer Applications - Those who want to apply for an officer position for next year should be a current freshman, sophomore, or junior, and may do so by filling out the online Google Form. The link to the Officer Application is here: https://forms.gle/xUvKnZK2mXL9psuw5.
Visual Unit Tryouts - Miss Donna and I are still working out our options for Visual Unit for next year, and, once we've figured out what we're going to do, I will post info here and send it out on Remind/Facebook/Twitter.
Awards & Banquet - We normally vote on paper ballets each year, but I will convert that to a Google Form, and students will be able to vote online. The ballot will be ready in the next couple of weeks, and I will send out a link on Remind/Facebook/Twitter and put a link on the main page of the website. We still want to have a Band Banquet at some point, and we will schedule that when it's safe to do so.
Band Camp/Band Practice Schedule - Obviously there is still a lot of unknown variables with COVID-19, but I have put the dates and time for Band Camp on the website calendar (assuming that we start school as scheduled). We will have Indoor Music Band Camp Monday through Thursday, July 20th-23rd, 5p-9p in the Band Room. We will have Outdoor Drill Band Camp Monday through Thursday, July 27th-30th, 5p-9p on the practice field. The first day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th. I'm not sure where we'll be practicing once school starts, so I can't set our normal band practice time until that's been decided. Hopefully I will have the information I need to set that soon.
Stadium - According to Coach Edwards, the current completion date of the new stadium is May 4th. That means that it will definitely be ready for the coming football season, and maybe even graduation. Dr. Dixon has stated that he wants to have a graduation ceremony for the seniors at some point, and I don't see why that can't be in the new stadium if it's ready!

As always, wash & sanitize those hands, don't touch your face, stay home if you can, and stay six feet or more away from people when you can't. I want everyone to be safe, and I can't wait to see you all again in person. I'm ready to get back to making some music!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Thoughts to the Seniors...

I've been thinking a lot over the last few days about the Seniors, and everything that they're missing out on this Spring. As I frequently do, I try to make the best of a bad situation, and that got me thinking about all the things that they GOT to do! Not all of them got to do all of these activities, but it's a pretty fun list!

8th Grade - 2015/2016:

  • Ladies of the '80s show - Hit Me With Your Best Shot / Alone / Mickey / 99 Red Balloons. This one is still some people's favorite.
  • While we spent most of football season in bibbers and band t-shirts, this year's group was the first to wear the new uniforms!
  • Straight 1s at the Coffee Invitational Marching Festival.
  • A wrestling event with the nationally-known Ron Simmons from WCW.
  • The Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade.


9th Grade - 2016/2017:

  • Feelin' Caribbean show - Jump In The Line / D'yer Ma'ker / Hot Hot Hot / Three Little Birds-Jump In The Line.
  • Hardee's Band Night, where we lined up in the parking lot and played for over an hour.
  • The Halloween Carnival and the Haunted Trail.
  • Orlando Spring Trip - two days at Disney World and a performance with a Disney musician! We provided the audio for a scene from Tangled.
  • Performance at the Georgia Firebirds/Dayton Wolfpack National Arena League game. The first marching band to ever perform at an NAL game!

10th Grade - 2017/2018:

  • Hee Haw show - Deulin' Banjos / Pfft You Were Gone / Elvira / Gloom Dispair & Agony on Me / Jolene-Elvira Tag. "What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear!"
  • The first Halloween dress-up band practice.
  • The percussion attempting to play with Newsong at the concert in Tifton. Unfortunately the *professional* drummer missed his cue, and we had to perform at the end of break by ourselves.
  • Brass Choir performing at Redland Baptist Church's Christmas Program in Valdosta.
  • The first Spring Game.

11th Grade - 2018/2019:

  • Salute to the American Auto Industry show - Detroit Rock City-Drive My Car-On The Road Again / Mustang Sally-Hot Rod Lincoln-Little Red Corvette / Car Wash-Fun Fun Fun / Who's Gonna Drive You Home-Life Is A Highway.
  • Heat Wave Drum & Bugle Corp staying at our school and practicing on our practice field.
  • First Back-to-School Celebration performance in the middle of Band Camp for all the teachers, administrators, and staff of the Cook School System.
  • A '57 Thunderbird in our halftime show!
  • Two days at Universal Studios, and a performance at the Orlando Apollos game. We get to go on the field... wait, no we don't. But we got to see Frisbee Dog! And the official Macarena arrangement, as heard on the NFL Network!

12th Grade - 2019/2020:

  • Soul Train show - Get Ready-September / Soul Man / Bad Mamma Jamma-Brick House / Midnight Train To Georgia-September Tag.
  • The second Back-to-School Celebration performance.
  • We were everybody's homecoming game.
  • Another Halloween dress-up band practice.
  • A superior at Concert Band Festival.

In addition, in five seasons of Hornet Football, the Seniors never had a year without playoffs. Not a bad list! And this is just the band-related activities, most of them participated in other school activities and have memories with those groups.

So Seniors, when you remember your time in high school, try not to focus on this time that you lost, but all the time that you had.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Unthinkable & Unbelievable

Yesterday, 4/1, Governor Brian Kemp declared that all Georgia schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year. He said that he made his decision based on new information that COVID-19 can be spread by those who are showing no symptoms, and he felt that this is the best course of action.

While I've suspected that this could happen, it still came as a shock to me. In all the years I've been teaching, I sometimes think I've seen it all, but this is unprecedented. I wish I had answers to all of your questions, but the truth is I have no idea what happens now. I wish I could say something to make sense of all of this, but I'm simply at a loss. My heart aches for all of the students who've lost a quarter of their school year. You have no idea how much I miss all of you, and how much I miss just having band with you every day. Most of all I hurt for the Seniors. Their Senior year, and there's no Spring Trip, no Spring Concert, no Band Banquet. I've been told that there WILL be a graduation ceremony at some point when the social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are lifted, but there is not even a guess right now as to when that could be. Most health experts are saying that we haven't reached the top of the curve yet, so we can't project when life might start returning to normal until we're on the back side of this. "I don't know" is not a good answer, but it's all we've got to most questions right now.

I had a video chat earlier this week with Erik, Mr. Fortner, and Miss Donna, and we talked about options for things that we had planned and things that we normally do in the Spring. I can tell you that Erik has decided to cancel both the Jekyll Island trip and the Troy Summer Percussion Camp. No money has been paid for Jekyll Island, and no money has been sent to Troy, so everything students paid will be rolled into their band accounts for next Fall. The four of us talked about the options if we didn't return to school this semester, so we have some preliminary ideas on what directions we will go with officers, auxiliaries, drum major, and awards, but right now most things are not finalized and can't be announced. The easiest to handle is the Officer Application for next year. Soon I will convert the paper application into a Google Forms document, and those of you who want to apply will be able to fill that out online. Mr. Fortner is going to be heading up the Drum Major tryouts, and he and I will be figuring out how we can best conduct those online. Miss Donna has looked at some options for Visual Unit, and we'll be making some final decisions on how we can handle that as well. I'm going to create a Google Docs form to allow students to vote on the yearly awards online instead of on paper, I'll still make the Year End Video, and we will still announce award winners before the end of May. Again, this all uncharted waters for us, so we're having to figure it out as we go along, and details may change as we try to navigate. I also plan to schedule some Google Meet group video chats over the next few weeks so we can hang out and talk through anything you might have questions over. I don't think we can get the whole band on at one time, so we'll do them by grade or section.

I know you all miss band, so I've revived our Marching Band Google Classroom so that we can interact. It has a few pieces of marching music (along with recordings) that you can practice on, and I'll be adding more as time goes by. You know how I like quirky music-related stuff, so there's some interesting articles, YouTube videos, and a message from Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser. Because I know you miss them so much, I'm also going to post our daily Musician Birthdays and Music History! April 1st and 2nd are already online, and I'll post a new one each day. To join, log into http://classroom.google.com with your school email address and password, and join the Marching Band class with the code a7wlpjp.

I miss you all more than you know! PLEASE stay home and wash/sanitize your hands. COVID-19 is no joke, so take all precautions. The most important thing right now is that you and your family stay safe!

Band Camp and Other Info

Buckle up, because this is going to be long! It's been a month or so since I've published a lengthy informational post, but I hone...