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.......

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Week That Was

I knew it was coming.  I prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually during Spring break which was the week prior to "The Week That Was."  This week actually began on Tuesday, March 29th - our first day back from Spring Break 2016.

I have decided that Spring Break is just a tease....a big tease, in preparation for summer break.  Waking up without an alarm, chilling with friends, hitting the beach, fishing on the pier, reading a good novel -- this is my idea of an awesome Spring Break.  I'm always too tired to travel.  The thought of packing a bag to go anywhere does not excite me.  By this time of the year, I am tired.  Really tired.  Spring Break is the week I use to re-charge my batteries.  I'm top-tier when it comes to "doing."  I'm lower than pond scum when it comes to just "being."  Spring Break is my time to just "be."

We returned to school on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, we took our Senior Photo at the beach in full concert regalia, then headed back to school for a 2-hour rehearsal for State Solo and Ensemble with our accompanist.  Thursday, we had a 4-hour technical rehearsal for our annual talent showcase.  It would not have lasted that long, but the breaker blew while our lighting designer was recording light cues for the show and had to start all over.  Friday, April 1st - our "Fletcher's Got Talent" talent showcase took the stage!! I was at school from 6:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. yesterday.  Today - I took a bus load of 25 students to see a "live" stream of "Madame Butterfly" in HD.  Yes...24 high school chorus students, one keyboard student and two chaperones on a Saturday to see an opera.  It was awesome!! 

Seniors - 2016

Talent Show Crew - Student Officers

 The Metropolitan Opera House - New York, New York
1:00 p.m. matinee "Madame Butterfly"

"Live" Stream in HD at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
1:00 p.m. matinee - Jacksonville, Florida

Intermission 1 - Pizza!!

On Tuesday, April 5th, I will take 11 students to compete in the Florida Vocal Association's North State Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessment...and thus will end my "Week That Was."
Until next time...

Friday, March 18, 2016

National Association for Alternative Education

Spring Break began today and I spent the early morning hours with one of my students who had agreed to sing the National Anthem at the general session of the National Association for Alternative Education's annual conference.  Teachers from all over the United States converged upon the Sawgrass Marriott this week to share ideas and gain a better understanding of how we can help our students finish their high school years and receive their diploma.  If we, as educators, can help them understand that "the tassle is worth the hassle" and if they complete the task, their lives would be forever changed.  No one can ever take away your education.  That is one thing in this life you can hold onto forever.

The path to this invitation was rather circuitous.  It was brought to the attention of my current principal by the school's former principal.  The invitation then traveled through me (chorus teacher) to my student, Sammie.  Her family postponed their trip out of town so she could sing today and I am so grateful for their support.

Sammie played the lead role of "Dorothy" in our spring musical ("The Wizard of Oz") several weeks ago and did a beautiful job.  I knew she would represent our school well today, and she did.

I told Sammie that this was the "first of many opportunities" for her to represent Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School in this way.  She is a freshman and I am thrilled to have her for another 3 years!

Thank you to Mr. Dane Gilbert, Mr. Don Nelson, Ms. Jackie Whitt and the NAEA Board for this opportunity.  Now that this performance engagement has been fulfilled, here's wishing all of my students a safe and restful Spring Break!!

Until next time...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Birthday Blessings

Yesterday was my birthday.  I had an awesome day!!

Lots of FB posts, text messages, e-mails, telephone calls, cards, flowers and gifts.  AND the Dean's secretary (who also happens to be my cousin) sang to me over the intercom.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

Even the band honored me by writing my name on their monthly calendar!!

I love bulb flowers of any variety.  My sister sent me a brimming bouquet of irises and tulips!!

I am blessed beyond measure and I'm "feeling the love."  Thank you everyone!! 

Until next time....

Friday, February 12, 2016


We are very fortunate to have an organization in our area known to all as the Beaches Fine Arts Series.  This organization brings in top-tier performers from around the world to share their musical gifts in our community.  EVERY concert is free.  Many of the artists do masterclasses and workshops with local elementary school children and concert choirs at the high school level.  Last year, we were invited to a masterclass with Chanticleer and it was an awesome experience. 

This year, my Ladies Chamber Chorus was invited to participate in a masterclass with a trio from the United Kingdom.  This group calls themselves "VOICE" and boy, do they each have one!!

The trio worked with my treble choir for over an hour today.  They sing all of their music a cappella, which means that there are no instruments involved in the process.  They establish the key with tuning forks and have incredibly good pitch and tone production.  Their sound is bell-like with very little vibrato.  My students had never heard anything like that before and the trio's sound was enhanced by the "live" acoustics at St. Paul's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church which is made of coquina (sea shells and mortar). 

By the end of the hour, my girls had learned several canons, sung in 3-parts, worked on "floating the sound," practiced proper breathing techniques and enjoyed a musical adventure from three lovely ladies from another country.  I don't think the girls realized the gift that was given to them today.  We will de-brief on Wednesday when we return to school.  I am anxious to hear what they have to say about the experience.  Big "THANK YOU!!" to Kathy Wallis and the Beaches Fine Arts Series.

 Ladies Chamber Chorus with VOICE

 Mrs. Tamburrino with VOICE

 VOICE Trio (United Kingdom)
Until next time...

Conductors in Training

It's that time of year...

Music Performance Assessment season is upon us!  I have 11 entries this year at Solo and Ensemble - 3 music theatre entries, 6 vocal solos and 2 student conductors. This is the first year I've taken student conductors. 

When I asked the Executive Director of the Florida Vocal Association how many I could take, his response was "As many as you can handle."  I now know why. 

We had to find willing hearts among us who would put in the extra effort in an ensemble, so that my students had someone TO conduct.  We had to give up class time to work on the music so that I could coach the guys through the process.  We had to hold additional after school rehearsals with the ensemble and the accompanist to make this happen for these fledgling conductors.  I had forgotten what it was like to watch a beginner try to conduct an ensemble.  Truth be told, these young men have a newly acquired appreciation for the person on the podium. 

It has been a pleasure watching these young men develop over the past several months and my hope is that they both make a "Superior" rating and we all get to go to STATE!! Fingers crossed... 

 Jacob - "Je le vous Diray"

Noah - "Shenandoah"

Until next time...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Brandon J. Lesando

I have been blessed through the years to work with incredible people.  Some of these folks are artists, musicians, media specialists, drama teachers and dance teachers.  All of us are known as resource teachers.  It is our job to enlighten young minds in all things artistic.  I have worked with some of the most creative, innovative teachers who are masterful at their craft.  It is a gift I do not take for granted.  One of my dear friends told me that she "loved zinging with me!"  That is artistic-speak for creating beauty all around us - whether it is heard, seen or experienced - someone has to create it.  I have learned so much from my colleagues and my newest colleague, Brandon J. Lesando, is a musical force with which to be reckoned.

This young man (he is 25 years my junior) is one of the most talented, insightful first-year teachers I have ever met.  He has more energy than anyone in our department.  He is the new band director at my high school.  I live next door in the chorus room and I was assigned to mentor Mr. Lesando through his first year as a professional educator.

It is my job to make sure he understands how to function within our Performing Arts Department.  It is my job to make sure he meets deadlines placed upon him by the school and by the district.  It is my job to make sure that he is well-supported through his first year of teaching.  Statistics show that most teachers entering the workforce these days leave within their first three years.  They can't handle the demands placed upon beginning teachers.  They are easily overwhelmed.

Teaching is not for the faint-of-heart.  It requires a great deal of patience as you learn to navigate the system.  It also requires a passion that runs deep, so that when you are at your wits-end, you can remind yourself of the reason you chose this profession in the first place.

I have mentored many "teacherlings" over the past 12 years.  Some were pre-interns who were just there to observe my teaching.  Others were interns in their final year of teacher training at college.  I have also worked with elementary education majors who were learning how to incorporate visual art and music into their curriculum.  I LOVE working with "teacherlings."  I love to watch them grow and learn as they navigate through their first year in the classroom.  I love to watch the students grow to love them over time.  I love to watch them teach, teach and re-teach so that everyone is successful.  It is like watching a flower doesn't happen overnight.

Because Mr. Lesando is a rookie in the classroom, I am required to do two observations on him this year.  We completed the first one in early November and his final observation yesterday.  He is masterful at classroom management - the best I've ever seen.  He has good teacher instincts.  He scaffolds well.  He teaches "in the moment."  If something does not go according to plan, he makes adjustments and repeats the process.  He plans, prepares and executes with great precision.  Some of that is his naval training; some of it is just how he's wired.

It has been such a pleasure working with Mr. Lesando this year.  My former band director told me before he left that I would love this guy.  I do!!

Until next time...