I Have a Gripe

January 3, 2015

Jim Rome – the True “Dork”

Filed under: General Annoyances,Marching Band,Music Education — alvb1227 @ 2:37 am
Tags:

Nothing gets my back up more than when music in school comes under attack. Well, it looks like another genius has shared a Tweet and learned the wrath of the band.

Jim Rome, host of “The Jim Rome Show” on CBS Sports Radio sent out the following Tweet yesterday.

Jim Rome
Oh yeah, that didn’t tick me off. Not at all.

Well, apparently I wasn’t the only one. He has received post after post with the hashtag #MarchOnRome to make sure it got his attention. Past and current band members, band parents, teachers let him know how displeased they were with his commentary.

What might be the best part is that he received a crushing blow from the Army Field Band.

Army BandI don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mess with them.

The truth is that it takes great skill to not only play an instrument, but simultaneously march around a field and not get decapitated by someone twirling a flag in the color guard. To say these comments infuriated me is putting it mildly.

People like Mr. Rome are under the misconception that marching band is simply there to give football players a break during halftime. The reality is marching band is very competitive. When I was in marching band I took it very seriously and looked at the football games as prep for “the real deal.”

This is a clip that originally aired as part of the 1993 DCI World Championships broadcast. It is part of a study that was done by a professor at Indiana University to see the physical demands of a modern Drum & Bugle Corps show. They hooked up one of the tenor drummers to a device that monitored heart rate and oxygen intake and then had the corps do a full run of the entire show (approx 11 minutes). It originally aired as part of the 1993 DCI World Championships broadcast. During the test the whole second half clocked in at 192 BPM accelerating to 208. Star of Indiana made history with this show and it’s a great window into how physically demanding drum corps is. Fast forward to today, many colleges and high schools perform similarly demanding shows. It is serious work.

I am incredibly proud to be one of the so-called “dorks” Rome referred to in his tweet. As I mentioned in a previous post about a similar idiot, NEVER mess with the marching band. I’m sure Mr. Rome has learned that the hard way. You sir, are the dork. Sports programs are now the “be all, end all” they once were.

November 15, 2013

The True Sleeping Dragon – The Band Geek

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
~Isoroku Yamamoto

While this quote from Yamamoto is referring to the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, today it is referring to the collective community that is the “band geek.”

Yesterday I posted about a shameful event that took place at the final football game of the season at Annandale, Virginia, where a football coach threw a temper tantrum that included shaking the podium of an assistant drum major and yelling at the director to “get the band off the field.” An editorial appeared on the school’s news site about the event and in one resounding voice, proud marching band members, former band members, music educators, and the like have said ENOUGH.

For a long time, those involved in the music department have been disrespected while those who play sports are seen as the school heroes. This terrible event has rallied those of us who have valued their time involved in their music departments to take a stand. I have read comments on this event all over the Internet from Texas to Minnesota to Jersey (including me) aligning themselves with the marching Atoms to show support. I hope the musicians of Annandale know they have the support of music students (and former students) from all over the country.

Additionally, the story has been picked up by The Washington Post, NBC, The Huffington Post, Patch, CBS, and other local Virginia websites.

I say good. Enough is enough!

Today, the principal issued a letter to the parents and an apology to the band for the actions of the football coach and according to reports, an apology from the coach himself to the band and the director is forthcoming.

The principal and the coach owe much more than that.

This was the last game of the season. Senior Night. A special moment in high school to celebrate all they have accomplished. Now, that memory is forever tarnished. They didn’t get to finish their final performance properly.

Now I will say I did read a few comments actually “sort of” defending the situation. My personal favorite comment mentioned how band members should “learn their place” because the band exists “for the entertainment during the foot ball game.”

Um, what?

The music department does not exist simply to be a court jester for school athletes. Playing an instrument AND marching takes skill, practice, and discipline.

Now, let’s look at the other side of this coin. This coach shook the podium of the assistant drum major. Now, I know nothing of law in Virginia, but I would think in New Jersey he could potentially be charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. And if that student fell, I’m sure a lawsuit would follow and rightfully so.

An apology? Well, that’s a good place to start, but the band and the director are owed much more.

Oh, and don’t think marching band members (and former members) will forget about this until we hear of a final resolution.

#bandgeekforlife!

November 14, 2013

NEVER Mess With the Marching Band!

‘Cause the players tried to take the field, The marching band refused to yield.
~Don McLean

Multiple times on this blog I have defended the importance of music education in public schools. All too often music departments do not receive the respect or the funding they need and deserve.

music education

The magnet on the back of my car.

I often say my years in marching band in high school were some of the best times of my life. I was in just about every music-related activity offered in my high school. I took private lessons for piano and bass. I helped teach pit at my high school after graduation. And the ultimate – I married a band director. I grew into the adult I am in large part because of my experiences in music. I learned about responsibility, teamwork, leadership, the value of hard work, and built confidence, to name just a few key life skills.

I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a professional musician, but it was still great. Many of the individuals I met through the music department became professional musicians and music teachers. My husband and I were absolutely beaming when we learned that not one, but two of my husband’s kids were my niece’s band directors.

Fast forward to today…

Like everyone I know on Facebook, links to articles get passed around regularly. Today I saw one that had my blood absolutely boiling. All too often, high school football teams, their parents, and game attendees think the marching band is there simply to entertain at halftime and give the players a break. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Well, a football coach in Annandale, Virginia  displayed the ultimate in bad behavior when he flipped out trying to get the band off the field during halftime so his team could warm up. He went so far as to yell at the kids and the band director as well as shake the podium of the assistant drum major.

To say I was furious when I read about this event is putting it mildly.

I fired off the following letter to the coach, the school principal, and the director of student services.

To All,
I just read an article online about how disrespectfully your high school’s marching band was treated at a recent football game. I am absolutely incensed by the rude behavior of the football parents, coaches and administration. You should all be ashamed.

From what I have read online Mr. Scott, your poor behavior has been a constant during the entire football season by bringing your team on the field before you should. And you are very lucky indeed that the Assistant Drum Major did not fall off the podium when you began to shake it.

Believe it or not Mr. Scott, the marching band is not there simply to entertain at halftime. Marching band is quite competitive and requires absolute marching precision while simultaneously playing an instrument. Something that is not easy.

How do I know this? I am a PROUD former marching band member from Belleville, New Jersey and a former Drum Major. I am also married to a Band Director. I also went to a high school where the football team (which most of the time had a losing record) was treated with far more respect than the marching band – as well as the music department as a whole. Trust me when I tell you, the band usually had a better record than the football team. It sounds like you have a similar poor record. Meanwhile, your school’s marching band has won both the Virginia State Champions and a National award for “III-Open” class.

Have you ever been to a marching band practice or a competition Mr. Scott? I doubt it. You should. Maybe you would understand what is really involved and how hard these kids work.

I have also read that it was “suggested” that the band do their show after the football game to avoid any issues. That is completely unacceptable in my book. In my many years experience (four years as a student and 25 years of following my husband as he traveled with his band), opposing teams and coaches are always understanding of special events, such as senior night, thus any potential penalties are waived. Do you really think it would’ve been acceptable to do their show as people exited the stadium? I think not.

My Band Directors, as well as my husband, always taught their kids to conduct themselves in the most professional manner. Over my high school years and my adult life, I have always been proud of both my fellow band mates and my husband’s kids and have conducted themselves, even in the face of stupidity. It doesn’t sound like you have set the same example Mr. Scott. You could probably learn something from the band members.

You should all be made to publicly apologize to Mr. Hilkert and the entire marching band, as it sounds like the administration just sat idly by and let this man’s rant continue. I also think Mr. Scott should be reprimanded by your Board of Eduction.

Shame on all of you,
Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Belleville High School Marching Band 1984-1988
Drum Major 1986-1988
Belleville, New Jersey

The band director, Adam Hilkert, is an incredibly accomplished musician, and he has decided to spend his life educating children through the vehicle of music. In addition to his position as band director at Annandale High School, he serves as Doctoral Conducting Associate at George Mason University, where he studies instrumental conducting. He is the Music Director of the Vienna Community Band and Graduate Conductor of the Mason Wind Symphony and Assistant Principal Double Bass with the American Festival Pops Orchestra.

The manner in which this “coach” (and I use that term very loosely) treated Mr. Hilkert and his marching band is simply deplorable.

I am encouraging all my readers to email or call the Annandale High school and let them know that he should be, at minimum, reprimanded and forced to apologize. Personally, I would rather see him fired. He doesn’t deserve the important position of fostering the youth of this community.

July 8, 2011

The Space Shuttle…the End of an Era

Filed under: Education,United States government — alvb1227 @ 11:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Today marked the beginning of the end of an era. The final Space Shuttle launch took place today; 30 years after the first launch.

I was 10 the year of that first launch and I remember thinking how different it looked from what I had seen at school or in books. That it looked like a regular airplane to me. I remember not changing for gym the day the Challenger exploded on takeoff and we watched the television with the rabbit ears a teacher rolled in from another classroom. It was the first time I understood the sacrifice involved with being an astronaut.

For decades Americans were fascinated with the space race. It also sparked an increased an interest in math and science by students across the nation. Now that wasn’t anywhere close to my thing, but it inspired students to excel in math and science so they could be a part of “the space race;” something new, and a way to show your love of country.

Now? The Space Shuttle Atlantis embarked on its 12 day journey. The last after 30 years. Now, we will hitch a ride with the Russians. Yes, the Russians we raced against. The race where we lost the battle of the first person in space, but won the war of getting to the Moon first. The federal government wants our students to excel at math and science, but without a major program from NASA, like the Space Shuttle, what are we focusing on as our next great exploration? What great goal are we working towards as a nation? What brings us together as one? The space race was it. What’s next?

 

May 19, 2010

I’m Sorry Mr. Cavuto, You’re Wrong

Let’ me start out by saying I am a long-admirer of Neil Cavuto.  He is both incredibly articulate and intelligent. He has overcome multiple health problems with grace and honesty. He is certainly someone of personal and professional accomplishment and a great role model.

On the way home each day, I listen to Your World on satellite radio. Each show ends with a personal commentary by Cavuto called Common Sense. I will say I agree with his point of view on politics, business and every day life more than a majority of the time. However, today, I must say I was very disappointed with his commentary about the “thin skinned teachers of New Jersey.”

He spoke of merit pay and compared it to other jobs that receive pay increases based on job performance. First off, if you, Mr. Cavuto, have received fair increases based on your performance, good for you. Like most of the people I know, that is not normally the case and has not often been my personal experience. Most increases in the private sector (in my experiences) are more related to playing the corporate game, sucking up to management and other under-handed office-politic maneuvers. While I have, on rare occasion, like others, received fair increases for performance, it is as I said earlier – well, rare.

Now let’s look at the public sector, like teachers. You said that teachers should be held to the same standard. That teachers are doing their students a disservice otherwise “that when they grow up, they either perform on their job, or they loose their job.”

Let’s think about that statement for a moment. I know many teachers who try to teach values like these in their classrooms. That there are winners and sadly, losers, in all aspects of life. Unfortunately, you are forgetting one important factor – the parents. The parents that often bully teachers into overlooking their child’s poor behavior, half-hearted homework assignments and failed tests. The parents that often make excuses for their children. The parents are the ones that are creating this “touchy, feely” environment today. Where, to quote you from an earlier commentary, “every kid gets a trophy for simply showing up.” The parents that are teaching them no matter what, someone else will fix it for you.

You also used the example of “the CEO that seeks his company’s stock swoon, then his corner office soon gone.” Well, we both know, if the CEO’s company’s stock declines, the CEO will get a golden parachute and continue to live the good life. So, this is not the best analogy either.

I completely agree that teachers should be held accountable, but how do you handle merit pay? More standardized testing? We all know how great that works. What about fine and performing arts? How do you determine if an art teacher is doing a good job? If the kids are all Picasso’s? And what about music? Is the music teacher only doing a good job is the child can sing like Pavarotti or play cello like Yo Yo Ma? Last time I checked, there’s no standardized test for fine and performing arts, so I guess that will continue to be decimated by the public school program.

You tell teachers, “this is the real world.” Well, I say teachers know better than most what the real world is. Teachers are expected to repeatedly do more with less, often purchase supplies for their classroom with their own money and are regularly the butt-end of jokes and abuse by people who have no idea what it is to manage a classroom or, God forbid, protect students in a Columbine-like attack.

Teachers know all too well, what the real world is all about Mr. Cavuto. On this one, you’re wrong.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: