Today’s guest post is from CJ Longabaugh, Assistant Director of Bands at Blue Valley West High School in Kansas. CJ was a part of the Collegiate/Young Teacher division of the Music for All Summer Symposium the summer before his very first teaching job! Our many thanks to CJ for sharing some thoughts on his experience and why he recommends others to take part in the Summer Symposium as well! 

CJ LongabaughAccepting my first teaching position was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I immediately began questioning my ability to understand the logistics of the position, effectively managing parents and administration, and successfully teaching students so they have the most musical experiences in high school band. Reflecting on my first years of teaching at Blue Valley West High School, I can honestly say with complete confidence that attending the MFA Summer Symposium has set me up to be the most successful first year teacher I could be for several reasons. Below are some things that I gained by attending the symposium just months before I began teaching.

 

I connected with students. In June 2011 I drove a school van of high school students to the MFA Summer Symposium. Surrounding myself with our leadership team before band camp allowed me to connect with students on so many levels. I was able to learn their about personalities and strengths while showing them how passionate I am with helping them actualize their potential as musicians and leaders. Before band camp even started, I knew 13 students that trusted me as their teacher, and that helped me build strong relationships with all of my students.

 

I learned from the best. Music for All hires the best band directors in the country to conduct clinics and sessions that cover a wide variety of topics: fundamental techniques, conducting clinics, marching show production and design, instrument-specific pedagogy, round table discussions, one-on-one sessions, the list goes on! These expert teachers give insight to the real world of education in the public schools. I specifically remember sitting down with David McGrath in a “one-on-one” session to discuss teaching the “second” band. David gave me more advice and resources in one hour than I ever received in college. Before stepping into my first real classroom, I was able to pick the brain of an extremely successful band teacher who understands how to effectively teach in the modern day band room. His advice allowed me to enjoy the successes I had in the first years of teaching.

 

I networked. I was fortunate to meet so many young, enthusiastic music teachers from all around the country while at the Summer Symposium. After the symposium ended, several of us became “friended”  through many different types of social media. I am able to keep tabs on other band teachers that are going through the same things I am at Blue Valley West. It’s great to hear about new music, performance opportunities, and teaching methods just from reading the newsfeed. The “band director” friends I follow are my current and future colleagues. I could possibly work with one of these colleagues in the future…or maybe one of them helps me get a new job. Either way, networking allows you to build relationships in the intimate music community.

 

The summer before you begin teaching is the perfect opportunity to set yourself to make the most out of your first year. You are able to connect with your future students, work with the best music educators in the country, and network on a national level with other terrific music educators.

 

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As CJ explains, the Collegiate/ Young Teacher division is a great way to start your career and set yourself up for success! The best part is that you get to participate in the Director’s Track, but at a discounted price! If you want to read more about this incredible value, check out the Collegiate/Young Teacher division page on the Music for All website.