A new year brings some new sections in SupportED magazine. I am excited about "Letter to Myself," which features Yamaha Master Educators writing a letter to their younger selves during their first year of teaching. These letters are like gems from a time capsule — they are full of inspiration, enthusiasm and sage advice that can only come from decades of dedication.
Knowing that we were launching "Letter to Myself" made me think of what I would say to myself when I was a beginning band director at Keveny Memorial Academy in Cohoes, New York, in 1986. I was so unbelievably green and was just returning from a three-year tour as a rock 'n' roll drummer. Although I had a strong musical foundation from The College of Saint Rose, I knew very little about running a program. So what would I say to a 24-year-old John Wittmann?
Dear Younger John,
You are about to have the opportunity to shape the lives of a group of young people who will end up being MIT graduates, physicist, ESPN producers, music directors on cruise ships, state attorneys, pediatricians, moms and dads. You will know this because they will keep in touch with you through a thing called Facebook — but that's a long way off.
My point in — I know you are a worrier. So my only advice is: Do not worry about being perfect! Instead, focus on progress. Be a little bit better every day and keep your standards high for your students.
You will make mistakes. There will be wrong notes. People with quit band. Your budget will be cut. But you are strong and have smart friends. Lean on them. They will help you. You will help them too.
Your passion is palpable — leverage that. It is contagious, and your students will grow from it. Show up every day and expect more from yourself than anyone else could possibly expect.
You will be great at this.
John Wittmann in 2019
In this issue, we feature a letter Yamaha Master Education Anthony Maiello writes to his younger self. Read his advice.
Other articles in this issue include:
The Drive of Top Tubist Aaron Tindall — After working his way to the top of the tuba profession through relentless effort and focused planning, Aaron Tindall expects the same from his students.
Aaron Tindall's "10 Rules of Play" — Top tubist Aaron Tindall builds his pedagogy around 10 basic musical concepts.
Case Study: Music Program Teamwork in Tennessee — In the Ravenwood High School music department, partnership is a three-way street as the orchestra, choral and band programs work together to give students opportunities for success.
Use Lunchtime to Work Together — Be creative and use the lunch period for meetings, extra rehearsals and planning.
Avoid Burnout — When your attitude toward your career wavers, don't succumb to burnout. Stay inspired and inspiring rather than self-combusting.
Master the Master Schedule — A big-picture approach and careful planning can help you control the destiny of your music program.
Improve Students' Tone — Break down the factors of sound production and incorporate them back into the music to improve tone.
Q&A with Composer Eric Whitacre — GRAMMY®-winning Eric Whitacre offers his view about music education and more in a Q&A with Marcia Neel, senior director of education for Yamaha.
View the entire 2019v1 issue here.