A Glass of Chianti

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This is why I like private lessons better than band class

I just got off the phone with the director of the band that brought me in to help clinic their clarinet section last week. We were setting up schedules for more master classes that will be coming up in the next couple of months and I also received some names and phone numbers for students who want to set up lessons for this semester. In the course of conversation he said that he had been called by a couple of parents this weekend who were concerned that the band directors (me, in particular) were too hard on their children this week.

This surprised me a little bit because I was exceptionally relaxed that week in running the rehearsals. I told the kids frequently how well they were doing as a section and that I really enjoyed helping out with such well-prepared clarinetists. They were thoughtful and listened (for the most part... it is the summer...) and I heaped on praise by the bucket-full. It was all sincere praise, and there was lots of it because I'm just that kind of teacher. I've had my share of music teachers who came in to class every day with another diatribe and I hated those classes. They were uncomfortable for the people who did come to class prepared and ineffective for those who had already given up. The band directing world is full of people who are bitter they aren't performing and they take it out on the kids. It's horrible to watch, and it is really the rule, rather than the exception.

In any case, I told the kids on Monday that they weren't here to learn the music, but to perfect the music that they had practiced at home. The next day, when about three quarters of the kids came in prepared and practiced and I got onto the other quarter for not being prepared, that hurt a couple of feelings. I didn't yell or tell them that they were worthless clarinetists, I just pointed out that the people who couldn't play the music and who hadn't practiced were unprepared and wasting everyone else's time while we taught it to them.

And then I moved on. I thought I made my point.

But that is too harsh, apparently. Two parents call in and tell the band director that "that girl" was mean to their children and that (as one parent said) it was probably racially motivated. They both cite the comment about "wasting everyone else's time" as proof of me being mean. *sigh*

I need a Dr Pepper... and vacation time. Both of which I have! :)