Junior High Band
Survival Tips

Don't Step on Land Mines

There are some “land mines” that can cause you to lose your job: (1) misuse of money, (2) insubordination, and (3) sexual misconduct.

One of the best band directors I know (Bobby Bird) lost his job because he mixed personal money with school money. He put transportation money the band received into his own checking account. When there was an emergency on tour, or if he needed something quickly, he simply wrote a personal check for it. He maintained that he kept track and never spent school money for personal needs. Some things are legal but not honest; other things are honest but not legal.

The process of filling out a purchase order request, waiting for it to be generated, and then taking it to the vendor, is cumbersome and time consuming; but it’s the legal way to handle public funds. In order to prepare for emergencies, I was counseled to request several purchase orders at the first of the school year for “miscellaneous supplies” from various vendors. When there was a need, I always had a purchase order ready to use.

Another friend and great musician got so upset at his principal that he threatened to kill him. You can guess how that ended - he lost his job and was involved in a court case that lasted for years. As a group, musicians are often temperamental and high-strung. Being assertive and defending your program have to be balanced with using common sense and courtesy.

Finally, you often hear reports of teachers losing their jobs because of sexual misconduct. Protect yourself by making it a practice to never touch a student or say anything that could be misconstrued.

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.