Professional Development

In Jauvon Gilliam and Eric Shin: Performers, Teachers and Entrepreneurs, we outlined how percussionists Jauvon Gilliam and Eric Shin balance teaching at the University of Maryland School of Music, performing as principals in the National Symphony Orchestra and running their own businesses. We asked them to share their thoughts on each other as colleagues and friends. 
Yamaha Master Educator Douglas Droste is the director of orchestras and associate professor of music at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Below, he pens a letter to his younger self, sharing advice, anecdotes and inspiration for a fulfilling career in music education. 
Even the most accomplished band directors can feel a bit out of their league when teaching strings for the first time.  
Jauvon Gilliam and Eric Shin aren't well acquainted with the oft-repeated saying, "When one door closes, another opens."  For this powerhouse percussion duo, opportunity repeatedly knocks, and doors keep opening wide.
A small act of kindness can spark a decades-long mentor relationship. Dr. Reginald McDonald still remembers when Herb Cox, a former band director in Atlanta, graciously stepped up to help him tune his middle school concert band during his second year of teaching. McDonald says that several of his students were not sitting correctly, making tuning stressful and labored.
In Case Study: Summer Percussion Camp in Fort Worth, we learned about the hard work and logistics required to put on the Bass Performance Hall High School Percussion Camp in Forth Worth, Texas. Coordinating the transportation of 75 students to and from Bass Performance Hall is a challenging task. But that feat may pale in comparison to coordinating the transportation of the equipment that those 75 students need in order to participate in the five-day camp.
Timpani heads do not need to be changed very often – we recommend every 1 to 2 years – but it's still important for band directors to know how to change them. Unfortunately, many directors don't know how or think it's too difficult. Yes, changing drum heads on timpani is more involved than it is for tom or snare drums, but anyone can do it. Here's how.
Music educators should not overlook selecting a proper saxophone mouthpiece for students in saxophone method classes and for beginners. Students and parents might assume that because mouthpieces typically come with the purchase of new saxophones (and in many cases, resale saxophones), the mouthpiece that is included is the best choice. This is not necessarily true!
Imagine that it's a new school year, a new band/ensemble season, and the percussionist arrives to rehearsal to see what music is in store for the first concert. Alongside the percussionist is a mallet bag, and inside are his or her tools. When opened, the bag looks like a beautiful and colorful bouquet worthy of a centerpiece!
As an educator, I have never understood why young percussionists are not taught more about musicality. My wife is a flute teacher, and she teaches musicality to kids in sixth grade. Why is it that percussionists get to college and still do not know the basics about shaping a line?

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