Our June online issue marked the debut of Mr. Reed’s Tales, an occasional column filled with stories – some funny, some infuriating, and some touching – from veteran teachers. Reading through these brought memories from my short teaching career flooding back. There were plenty of horror stories, but years later, the happy memories are the ones that stand out more strongly.
One seventh grade flutist always referred to Bb as B and B as Bb. It took months of patience, practice, and coming up with new tricks almost weekly sometimes, but by the end of the year, she had it right, not just for B, but for every note.
Two sixth grade percussionists had learned to hit snare drums and practice pads, but little else. During their lesson time, we worked intensely on snare rudiments and mallet playing, interspersing this with tuning timpani, cymbal crashes, and an introduction to drumset. Each boy came up to me separately during that year to thank me for showing them just how big the world of percussion was.
A freshman flutist overheard me play-testing a school bass clarinet one afternoon and decided she liked the sound enough to want to try it. We had a half-hour lesson right there, working on assembling the instrument, forming the embouchure, and playing open G down to low G. I gave her a fingering chart and the instrument to take home, reminded her that B3 and F#5 were played with the right-hand middle finger rather than the third (I have found this to be a common mistake for young flutists who pick up clarinet or saxophone), and sent her on her way. She came to band the next day able to sightread the bass clarinet parts for the music we were working on. I rewarded her by passing out an arrangement of Phantom of the Opera that had a fun bass clarinet part the following day.
Mr. Reed’s newest batch of stories can be found on the back page of this issue. If you have stories from your career to share, we would love to hear them. Any you email to firstname.lastname@example.org might appear in a future issue.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2018-19 school year, and may the memories you and your students make this year be the happy ones.
– Dan Blaufuss