Posted by Director Dictators on April 09, 2002 at 23:03:44:
In Reply to: HS band woes - argh posted by Dan Mordhorst on April 09, 2002 at 18:52:08:
Many band directors, some of whom are very talented, have severe personality problems, including inflated egos and an inability to tolerate the slightest suggestion, let alone criticism. These directors pick on students, play favorites, hold grudges and generally make playing for them a chore rather than a pleasure, even though the ensembles sound good and win prizes.
My two high school children have just such a director. In a conversation with the chairman of the board of education I was told there was a thick file of complaints going back some 8-10 years, but that because he got 'results' and had tenure, no one was willing to take him on. As nasty as he is talented.
I tried to work with his tuba/sousaphone section over the past few years, but he doesn't want any help, even though he hasn't as single tuba player who wasn't converted, and no one who plays better than 'acceptably'. I am embarrassed every time I hear a concert: the percussion is excellent, and the upper 1/2 of the flutes and clarinets and one or two trumpets sound like professionals (many of them are at Julliard Prep or Manhattan on weekends), but the tubas have a range from Ab below the staff to E in the staff and sound more like plumbing than tubas. Sixteenth notes are a mystery, eighth notes a strain, double tounging and triple tounging are not only unknown but disbelieved. Two years ago he had a good tuba player whom he harrassed so much the kid tried to quit. The director REFUSED to let him out -- and the principle backed the director -- because he needed him. He got in a fued with one of the local youth symphonies over a kid who quit his band. The director wanted the YS to kick the kid out because he wasn't in his school music program. The YS director said "send me a letter, put it in writing, so the board will have a valid basis to act" The band director wouldn't because he knew the kid's parents would sue if he wrote the letter. Upshot - the director no longer gives honors credit to kids who play in that YS. Who looses? the kids who're serious enough to play in a YS.
Still more, this director goaded a sax player who's already into conservatory to quit the band and three of his top 6 flutes quit this year over his favoritism and sarcasm - they sit right in front of him and hear all his nasty cracks.
So, good luck with the clown you're stuck with, but for every great school director (and I know there are some, I had a really great one in junior high some 40 years ago - he's the reason I still play, but he died of a brain tumor at 38) there are a couple of mediocre ones and a couple of real jerks.