In Which I Face a Tough Crowd

On Saturday morning I got up early, put a huge box of handouts and goodies into the car, and dragged Ryan out to Area High School so that I could teach a single-reed marching band clinic. We got there in time to watch an hours’ worth of field performances in the Unbelievable Horrible Brain-Piercing Cold, and then it was my turn.

Okay, so a roomful of fifty cold, hungry high school saxophone and clarinet players isn’t the best possible audience. For anything.


It was a lot of fun, though, it really was. I got to try out a few classroom management techniques that I hadn’t tried (one actually worked!) and the kids who were plugged into what I was saying made up for the ones who showed blatant disdain.


The clarinets were a real challenge – mostly because I’ve never played clarinet a day in my life, and had no real idea what to advise these kids about reeds or mouthpieces or anything else. I did have an answer for “should I march my wood clarinet or my plastic one?” and I was able to demonstrate perfectly appalling clarinet posture – largely because they’d demonstrated it for me a few minutes before, out on the field.

Fortunately, about a third of the kids were from my old high school, and I won them early on by evoking that whole “rah-rah, alma mater” thing at the beginning.

Unfortunately, I’d been told that these schools were “pro-Boise State,” and so brought some band logowear for prizes, and wore one of my staff shirts. As it turns out, there was a lot of anti-Boise State sentiment in that room, and at least one kid left his or her very nice BT hat lying on the ground when the clinic was over. 😦 They did seem to like the BT CDs, though.

I’m complaining, because I felt like it didn’t go quite as well as I would have liked, but I know I’m being a bit hard on myself. There’s only so much you can do with a totally “off” class, particularly when you have no authority.

Ryan and I were talking afterward, though, and we’ve got a great idea for next year! I hope that we get to try it.

Regardless of whether it went off without a hitch, it was a great experience – and hey, you can always use an extra fifty bucks. 🙂

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