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Young Director's Bootcamp: Part One

Podcast Episode Summary

On August 7, 2021 Amro Music hosted its first-ever Young Directors Bootcamp. It was a chance for new educators to get practical advice from a panel of four highly successful band directors in the Mid-South region. The goal for the Young Director's Bootcamp was to help everyone feel more confident and equipped for the first week of school, and beyond. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

what should you cover during the first week of band class?

  • Teach procedures and set expectations with your students.
  • Learn your students' names.
  • Distribute the calendar of events for the whole year.
  • Distribute a band handbook. (Be sure make it fun! The handbook is important but don't spend too much time on it. Try breaking it up into smaller chunks and layer in fun activities with it like rhythm games, etc. For more tips on creating a band handbook, check out last week's episode The Art of the First Week.)


What should you avoid doing during the first week of school?

  • Playing instruments on the first day of school might be a bit of a stretch. 
  • Putting too many things on your plate as the director.
  • Forgetting administrative tasks like applications for contests, purchase orders, clinics, etc. (Be sure to form a good relationship with your school's bookkeeper. They will be your best friend throughout the year when purchasing supplies for your classroom. You want to be on their good side! Also, don't be afraid to reach out to experienced directors in your area for advice on paperwork, clinics, associations, and other administrative tasks.)
  • Putting off maintenance tasks until the first week. (One tip offered was to take all the slides out at the end of the year, place them in a Ziploc bag in the case,  and then have a maintenance day during the first week of school to reassemble and lubricate all of the slides as a class.)


What do you do with returning band students after a year of virtual band?

  • Do everything you can to catch them up, but don't put pressure on them for being behind.
  • Offer a recruitment opportunity for 7th graders who weren't able to join band last year.
  • Create a mentorship program for advancing players to work with the non-traditional beginners. (You can use those students to teach basic skills like rhythm, music theory, and embouchure.
  • Don't be afraid to review the beginner book with your 7th graders.


How do you select repertoire for your concert band?

  • Listen to everything you possibly can, especially for second or third band level.
  • Only consider music that's written for students to be successful. Look for odd writing choices (i.e.. using c-flats instead of b-naturals.)
  • Ask your local director's associations for recommendations.
  • Select pieces that highlight your student's strengths.
  • Don't be afraid to punt a piece and move on to something else. If it's not working, it's ok to let it go. 


How do you know which instrument to place a beginning band student on?

  • Match their facial structure to an instrument that they'll be best suited for and likely have the most success with. (Listen to the episode on Rebecca Lowry's Facial Structure method or download the guide. This is a great alternative to mouthpiece testing.)
  • Use the first 2 weeks of school to teach music theory to the whole class while one director pulls students individually for instrument fittings.
  • Host an instrument petting zoo at your feeder schools. (You can also involve high school band students and 8th graders in this activity.)
  • As an alternative to a petting zoo, you can host an instrument safari (Which is a drive-through activity held outdoors.)
  • Divide students into 3 groups. Take a week to rotate each group between woodwind, brass, and percussion. Then, make the decision at the end of the week. 



Joe Quinnelly - Hernando, MS

Joseph Quinnelly is currently in his fifth year as the Director of Middle School Bands at Hernando Middle School. He teaches band classes at both the middle school and high school while also assisting in the leadership of Hernando Indoor Percussion. Under his direction, the Hernando Concert Band received a Division I rating at the MHSAA Concert Evaluation in 2018, the Hernando Symphonic Band received a Division I rating in 2019 and 2020, and Hernando Indoor Percussion won first place at MIA State Championships in 2018 and 2021.  Since joining the Hernando Staff, Mr. Quinnelly has helped lead the band to two consecutive MHSAA 6A State Marching Championships in 2018 and 2019. Mr. Quinnelly is a native of Texarkana, TX, where he attended Texas High School. After graduation, he attended the University of Mississippi, where he graduated at the top of his class with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education in 2017. During his time at Ole Miss, Mr. Quinnelly was a member of The Pride of the South Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, LOU Symphony Orchestra, World Percussion Ensemble, Steel Orchestra, and the Opera Orchestra. Mr. Quinnelly is the Vice President of the Hernando-Desoto Band Directors Association and is a member of the Mississippi Band Directors Association and the I-55 Band Directors Association.

Bio and photo credits:  hernandobands.com


Kaitlin Roll - Jonesboro, AR

Kaitlin Roll is a native of central Arkansas where she spent a majority of her life. Although originally from Indiana, Ms. Roll's family took up residency in Benton, AR when she was a young child. Her parents, grandparents, and younger brother still live in Benton today. She was a successful product of the Bryant Band Program and graduated from Bryant High School in 2010. Kaitlin attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR from 2010-2014 and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music in Education (successfully condensing a normally 5 year degree plan into 4). Following graduation, she began her first job in West Memphis, AR were she served as the Assistant Band Director at the Academies of West Memphis for five years. In 2018, Kaitlin was named Phi Beta Mu's Outstanding Young Band Director for the state of Arkansas, and in 2019, she received her Master of Music in Education from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She has now joined the band staff in Jonesboro Public Schools and is the band director at Annie Camp Junior High. She is excited to be in Jonesboro and be surrounded by such a supportive community of the arts.


Bio and photo credits:  The Jonesboro Band Website


Jocelyn Hembruch - Southaven, MS

Jocelyn comes from Newburgh, Indiana where she grew up most of her life. Her endeavors in music started in the Castle Band program, known for its tradition of excellence. It was in the Castle band where her love for teaching music and performing flourished. In 2008, Jocelyn graduated with honors from CHS and pursued a degree in music education from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. While at Murray, Jocelyn participated in many performing groups and was principal flautist of the MSU Wind Orchestra that performed in Chicago, MSU Wind Ensemble, Woodwind Quintet, Jazz Band, and member of the University Chorale that performed in Carnegie Hall. She also was a founding member and participant of an capella group, The Muses, on campus. A big factor in Jocelyn’s college experience was being a member of the Racer Band. Not only was she a member for all five years, but for three years she served as drum major and leader of the band. Jocelyn is also a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota, a women’s music fraternity. She served in many capacities over the years including Corresponding Secretary and President of the Iota Beta chapter. Jocelyn concluded her college career graduating in May of 2013 Magna Cum Laude. Before coming to Desoto Central, Jocelyn held positions at well established band programs. In 2013, she was Assistant Band Director at Castle North Middle School in Newburgh, Indiana, while also assisting the high school with marching band. In 2015, she was the Assistant Band Director at Daviess County High School in Owensboro, Kentucky. Jocelyn also gave private lessons to students in her flute studio, provided masterclasses, and consulted for schools in Southern Indiana. Jocelyn was heavily involved in the Crossroads Christian Church music program that she attended with her husband and family. She was also a member of the Crossroads Christian Church Big Band. Jocelyn and her husband, Ben Hembruch, moved to Southaven summer of 2016 when she accepted the Assistant Band Director position. Ben is the Director of Bands at Horn Lake Middle School in Horn Lake Mississippi. The Hembruch’s now live in their first home in Olive Branch, Mississippi.

Bio credits:  dcspride.com | Photo credits:  desotocountyschoools.org


Ben Hembruch - Horn Lake, MS

Mr. Ben Hembruch is the Director of Bands at Horn Lake Middle School. Mr. Hembruch received his Bachelors of Music Education from Murray State University in 2013. There he was a member of the Wind Ensemble, Trumpet Ensemble, and the Racer Marching Band known as the Murray State Racer Band. Prior to teaching at Horn Lake Mr. Hembruch taught for 3 years in Kentucky and 2 Years in Memphis at First Assembly Christian School. The 2021-2022 school year will be Mr. Hembruch's 4th year at Horn Lake and his 9th year of teaching. Mr. Hembruch lives with his beautiful wife of 7 years, Jocelyn, and their two golden retrievers Sophie and Sunny. 

Photo and bio credits:  desotocountyschools.org


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Check out these recommended resources mentioned in this week's episode:

  • John McAllister Warm-Ups
  • Jupiter's "Join the Band! Wind Instrument Try-Out Kit" - The Wind Instrument Try-Out Kit was designed to help introduce and guide students towards finding the instrument that is the best fit for them.  It includes mouthpieces similar to the ones found in a band classroom, but are not intended to replace the actual instrument mouthpieces.  They can easily be cleaned in the dishwasher or hot soapy water. Call or text 901-302-3315 to order yours!
  • DragonFly - A platform designed to manage student paperwork, permission slips, eligibility, physicals, etc for participation in school activities. 
  • BAND - A free app that lets you share announcements, calendars, flyers, forms, signups, files, and more in one place. With BAND, parents and students know where to go to get information.
  • Schoology - An online learning management system developed by PowerSchool.
Posted by Amro Music at 10:38 AM
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