From the President (Jan. 3, 2010)

Dear Colleagues,

I am a worrier by nature. I worry about all sorts of things every day; things that shouldn’t matter but clutter my mind. I come by this naturally of course, so let me say that I am, categorically, becoming my mother! I worry about this too because I promised myself I would never become like my mother. But here I am, over 50 years of age, and I have, indeed, inherited this trait, not to the extreme degree that she possesses it, but nonetheless I have it.

I watch this world of ours and become distressed with a good deal of what I see and as an educator I wonder what effect all these events have on the students I am entrusted to teach.  Many are not paying any attention for all I know, but how can they not notice them. As a music educator I fancy that we might have more influence on students than some teachers and yet I worry. I am thinking that I need to make some New Year resolutions that might have some meaningful outcomes, and I wonder if I might be able to convince some of you to do the same.

The source of my worry today? I have noticed a decline in students music etiquette; in their understanding of what it means to perform, dedicate, commit and care. I have noticed a decline in their understanding of what it means to belong to a performing ensemble; the idea that, in order for an ensemble to be successful, one has to give up some of their own personal needs for the good of the group. Concert etiquette is also a concern, as well as rehearsal etiquette and how to act when in a concert setting. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I discuss and teach my students about these things, and I model them in every way, yet more and more of these young musicians do not seem to get it, and will conduct themselves in ways that are not acceptable and sometimes will embarrass me. This was brought to my attention during the  Mid-Winter Madrigal Festival this year, when some of my students were not behaving as I would have liked and, in my absence, did things that I would not have allowed to happen were I present. These students are members of my select ensemble and should be the best that I have to offer and who should be models of the finest of behavior and musicianship to my larger ensembles. I am concerned about this because they are not doing so.

Now if it were just me and my choirs, I would draw conclusions that would limit my observations to Burlington High School and my own teaching. But I hear many of the same things from my colleagues, and I see the ramifications at the District, All State and New England levels as well. I think it is probably a true assumption when we say that students act in school the way they act at home. And they model the very behaviors in middle school that they learned in earlier grades, and that they act in high school the way they were allowed to act in middle school. If we have anyone to blame for the lowered expectations and troubling behavior that we see in our
performing groups, probably the first place we should look is in our own back yards. So here is a list of some New Year Resolutions that I am going to diligently try to accomplish in my profession:

1.) I will dress professionally, in a manner befitting the integrity of the profession I represent.

2.) I will insist that rehearsals MUST be quiet and reflective, NOT noisy and chaotic.

3.) I will be on time to all meetings and rehearsals; lateness will not be acceptable.

4.) I will insist on commitment and dedication from all members of a performing ensemble.

5.) I will insist that students work on the music outside of rehearsal (this is called PRACTICE!)

6.) I will insist that students who are accepted to participate in festivals are prepared, and, if they are not, they won’t go to the festival.

7.) I will be honest with my students, and not sugar-coat concerns. Complete honesty will be my new approach.

8.) I will not allow students to interrupt in conversations, and I will model this behavior by becoming a better listener myself.

9.) I will insist on attendance at all performances, and consequences will be in place for offenders. Follow through will be paramount.

10.) I will strive to be supportive of my colleagues in every respect.

I think these are things that we all say we do, but I am not seeing it in the behavior of our  students. These are matters of critical importance to me, and I fully realize that I am lazy in my
enforcement. I always have good intentions, but often fail to follow through in a firm, supportive and professional way. I hope we will give these items some thought.

Below I am copying something sent to me by a fellow choral educator that struck me as somewhat important. I share this only as a reminder that we all, as educators, share a responsibility to our students and sometimes this goes beyond the teaching of music.
Most importantly, Happy New Year to all of you. We are all involved in a most honorable profession, and our work in music is vitally important to our students and society at large. I am so grateful for the friendships and collegial relationships I have with my fellow music
educators and ACDA members; I value them all and wish you the best in this New Year!

Most Sincerely,

Frank Whitcomb


Love him or hate him , he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 : Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 : If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault , so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s
generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In
some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Leave a Comment or Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s