Saturday, September 10, 2016

The 5th Bass

Last night, I was given the incredible honor of playing  "The 5th Bass" with my school's drumline. 
Now, for the back story....

I always wanted to be a percussionist in the marching band.  My dad said, "Drums are for boys!" and refused to allow me to play.  My entire childhood was spent at the high school football field every Friday night.  I watched my aunt play flute, my cousin play the tenor drums, my sister play flute/piccolo and my baby sister twirl flags with the colorguard.  And there I sat.  Wishing.  Hoping.  Longing to play percussion and march with the band.  I had to settle for sitting next to the band at every game, working in the concession stand at the game or chaperoning the band on trips after I graduated from college.  It was the best I could offer.

This is my fourth year at the Fletcher High and my third band director in four years.  Every one of these guys has honored me by allowing me to march in a parade, clang a cymbal, shake a tambourine and play The 5th Bass. 

To be honest, I did not know what that meant, but I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.  The fellow that was on the drum graciously stepped aside so I could play his part.  The 5th Bass is the largest drum they had on the line.  I had the time of my life and a few minutes of glory as part of an actual drumline.

I missed out on the parade last year because of a broken toe.  They asked if I would march again this year.  My answer is and always will be a resounding "YES!!!"

Until next time....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Top-Notch Customer Service
George's Music Jacksonville Beach, FL

If you ever need a hand stocking your classroom with sound equipment or instruments, may I recommend George's Music Jacksonville Beach, FL.  I was desperate for more keyboards and keyboard stands which my principal said he would purchase AND HE DID!!

My keyboard classes are large.  In one class, I have 33 students.  In the other class, I have 27 students.  The problem is that I only have 18 working keyboards in my room, so my students are doubled-up on them.  This is both good and bad.  Since "Middle C" sits in the center of the piano, neither student is actually playing where they should be playing on the keyboard.  What they are reading on the staff is not where they are actually playing on the piano.  This could be cumbersome later on if they choose to continue their study of this particular instrument, but for our purposes in a semester course, we manage.

The good news is that being paired with another student allows them to help each other.  I cannot always circulate through a classroom filled with a grand piano, digital keyboards, students, and backpacks, etc.  Peer-tutoring has worked really well in our learning environment and I have maintained that protocol from the beginning.

This year, my administration added a new twist and placed a handful of Keyboard II students within my Keyboard I classes.  This model fulfills the mandate for "differentiated instruction" because both groups are in different places in the curriculum and I am teaching both simultaneously.  I work with one group and ask them to practice independently while I dash to the keyboard at the front of the classroom to work with my Keyboard II students.  This is definitely not ideal, but I'm making it work because I am "Super Teacher" and that's what I do.

The sales representative above is the brother of a student I taught in elementary school.  He's getting ready to head to Nashville to live his dream.  I was fortunate enough to speak to him first at the store and he saw my purchase through to the end.  He allowed me to pick up the keyboard stands before the keyboards arrived.  He even volunteered to deliver the keyboards to the school so I did not have to return to the store to pick them up.  The folks at George's Music Jacksonville Beach go above and beyond to make certain your shopping experience is a great one. I highly recommend them!!

George's Music is located at 912 Third Street South, Jacksonville, Beach, FL 32250.  904.270.2220.
Give 'em a call.  Tell 'em Mrs. Tamburrino sent you.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Music Filing System - Finally!

Projects.  I love them.  I love tackling a project and seeing it through to completion.  I am driven and very task-oriented.  My "To Do" list is always full.  I even have a notepad by my computer at school that says, "I love lists!"  I know what you're thinking.  And yes, I am a bit OCD when it comes to being able to function in my corner of the world.  I am a woman with a plan.  Always.

For three years, I struggled to figure out how to move 800+ titles of choral music out of six broken down filing cabinets that had been in use since the school opened in 1962.  That's 54 years' worth of stuff.  My classroom is smaller than most choral classrooms, so it was quite a challenge.  Then, I had to procure the funding for a filing system that would serve our purposes and fit along a wall in my classroom.  I did several internet searches looking for just the right system and then approached my principal.

After negotiating with my principal for 3 years, he finally purchased a new music filing system for me.  My choral librarian from last year helped transfer all of the files from the filing cabinets into the new system before she graduated.  My choral librarian this year helped me catalogue all of the music in the new system so that the company could create labels for the system and simplify the process of locating music.

I am very happy to report that at 4:20 p.m. today (3 days before school officially opens), we finally finished the project.  I am still waiting for the roll-top doors to be installed, but that's another blog post for another day.

Music Filing System

Title, Composer/Arranger, Voicing

Yay Team!!

Until next time...

Friday, June 24, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacay

New Chorus books!! Thank you, DCPS!!

As I scroll through friends' Facebook postings, I see folks traveling the world, hanging with family, visiting new places, hiking, swimming, fishing, going to the movies and attending various camps during the summer.  Well...this is how I spent my summer vacation.  At CAMP TEXTBOOK!!  

They arrive from the School Book Depository (the SBD) on pallets by the hundreds.  Each book is new, untouched and boxed in a cardboard cocoon.  I am responsible for attaching a 2-part barcode to each book - one on the front cover and one inside the back cover - in case one of the covers go missing with repeated use by students.

I work with the drama teacher on this little project every summer.  The Assistant Principal in charge of textbooks cannot complete the task alone, so we volunteered to assist so that books would be available when school reconvened in August.  We did this last year.  We came back for more this year.  It is a mindless task that keeps us "Type A's" busy for weeks.  We look forward to it. 

The Assistant Principal was heading out of the country for a week and left us a 3-page instruction sheet on what she needed done while she was away.  In two days, we completed every task on the list.  We will get a new set of instructions when she returns.  By then, there will be more pallets and more books to barcode.

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember writing an essay at the start of every school year entitled, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." My essay is now complete!

Until next time... 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"It's a Wrap!" 2016

Another school year has come to an end.  There are days you think you'll never make it to the end.  And other days, when you think, "where has all the time gone?"  The older I become, time seems to slip through my fingers much more quickly.

Teaching is an interesting profession.  It is the only profession I know where the employee has to set up their workspace at the beginning of the year and break it down ten months later.  We are asked to remove everything off the floors and walls so that our summer custodial crew can prepare the building for the next year.  We turn in our keys, even though we will be back in 54 days.  After 12 years of teaching, I still find this a rather odd practice.

For the record, I had multiple projects unfold simultaneously in my classroom this year.  My classroom is small for a chorus room.  There is limited storage space in my classroom.  For three years, I have been working on re-arranging, re-organizing and making my workspace functional, inviting and user-friendly.  Since I have been at my school, I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth of new music and had nowhere to store it.  I had 6 defunct filing cabinets in a tiny space that were cram-jammed full of music.  Some of the music was so old, it cost $.20 for an octavo.  Most octavos nowadays cost $1.95 each.

My music filing system has been a three-year, ongoing project.  Funding had to be secured.  The System had to be purchased.  60-year old cubbies had to be removed.  The System had to be installed where the cubbies used to live.  All of the music had to be transferred from 54-year old filing cabinets into the new System (Thank you, Stephanie!!)  The entire process broke down when the doors for the System were damaged by the freight carrier who delivered them back in April.  This project would have been completed before the end of the year had this not happened....UGH!!

As you can see in the bottom photo, the new doors are still resting in their shipping coffin and sitting on the floor waiting to be installed.  I made several attempts to schedule the installation before the final bell rang this year, but I couldn't make it happen.  FRUSTRATION!!

In the meantime, I decided to clean out the keyboard closet and move the old filing cabinets out so we could figure out a way to install racks on which to hang 21 keyboards.  Another unfinished project....SAY IT ISN'T SO!!

If you know me at all, you know that I need closure in my world.  I am not at rest until the compartments of my life are packaged up nicely and neatly with a red bow on top.

My school year still has a gaping hole in it.  Doors on the floor.  Keyboards on the floor.  At this point, I'm not sure when or how my little projects will be completed.  The custodians cannot strip and wax my floors with the doors in their final resting place.  Drama Dude said he'd figure out a way to hang the keyboards.  So now we wait.....

 Keyboard closet where music was formally filed.
No more filing cabinets!! YAY!!

 Electronics covered.
Bulletin boards refreshed for next year.

New Music Filing System (doors on the floor).
Classroom stripped down for custodial crew.

I would like to thank Brandon Lesando for his assistance yesterday with the filing cabinets.  I could never have accomplished this task without his help.  Drama Dude will come through; he always does.  At this point, I cannot vouch for the installers.  Unfinished business.  My least favorite thing ever!

Until next time...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grandma's Mini Concert

Sometimes in life, we are called upon to look beyond ourselves and bless others with the gifts we have been given.  This could mean something as simple as paying for the person's order in the drive-through behind you or mowing a neighbor's lawn because they are not able to do so themselves.  I must share a story with you that speaks to a deeper level of humanity not ordinarily exhibited by teenagers and restores my faith in this generation affectionately dubbed "The Millennials."

What I am about to share is a true story that occurred in my classroom yesterday.  I teach high school chorus.  My class creed hangs on my wall - "Great Music, Better People."  I was witness to an extraordinary outpouring of kindness towards another human being by my students yesterday and my hope is that this experience will remain with them for many years to come.

Our Spring concert was last week.  It was our final concert of the year.  This was one senior's last opportunity to sing with his high school chorus prior to graduation.  His grandmother had been in the hospital all week and was extremely ill.  She was devastated that she could not attend her grandson's final concert.  This young man pulled me aside and asked if there was any way his grandmother could come to school one day before the seniors left and listen to the choir perform one song.  Just one.  I looked at my student and said, "If she is physically able, have her come.  If she is not physically able to come, we will go to her.  Is she still in the hospital?" He told me she was recuperating at home.

At 1:00 p.m. yesterday, this young man's grandmother and grandfather walked into our classroom.  She was wearing a portable heart monitor.  We sat them down in a chair and my beautiful choir gave an encore presentation of their music that was sung at our concert last week.  At the conclusion of our mini-concert, the grandmother was weeping.  I knelt down beside her and gave her a hug.  She said, "Thank you for doing this for me.  No one has ever done anything like this for me before."  Then I began to weep.  It was one of the most touching experiences I've ever shared with another person.  You could feel the joy in the air as my students witnessed the blessing of giving the gift of music to another human being.  It was a treasure that only they could give; only this group at only this time.

 Men's Ensemble performing "Vive L'Amour"
which means "Long Live Love!"

I shared this story with 96 people who attended our chorus banquet last night.  It was fresh and it was beautiful and I had to share it.  So many people were touched by this story that I had to share it here as well.

To my students who blessed this woman beyond measure - THANK YOU! You are the reason I get up in the morning, get dressed and show up for another day of music-making in a public high school.  I am extremely proud to call you my students.  You have become "Better People" in the time that I have known you.  May your legacy live on long after you graduate.

Until next time...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Teacher of the Quarter

O.K., Folks.  Today has been an awesome day.  It isn't everyday that an entourage of family, friends, an Assistant Principal and several PTSA Board Members storm your room and shower you with blessings.  I was completely taken by surprise when they announced the reason for their visit.

My students voted me the new "Teacher of the Quarter."  They gave me flowers, a plaque, a prime parking space, lots of hugs and a $100 gift card to Outback Steakhouse.  It was just as good as "Teacher of the Year" and I didn't have to complete the ominous packet to compete with everyone else!!

My heartfelt thanks go out to my students who make my job interesting, exciting and filled with music everyday. 

O, Happy Day.......