Thursday, October 31, 2013


A colleague once told me, as a young-ish teacher, that regardless of how one feels about one's principal one should always remember that the principal has the title of B-O-S-S.

That advice has stuck with me all these years.

Not just in regards to my principal or supervisors, but also in my music.

In the classroom the teacher is usually the B-O-S-S.

In the ensemble - band, chorus, orchestra, etc. - the conductor is the B-O-S-S.

Despite not always agreeing with the directors I have had in my nearly 40 years of ensemble work, I have always respected their position as "the one in charge."

40 years.


I started ensemble work in 5th grade with both band and choir.

I have played/sung in nearly every type of ensemble possible.

Mainly because I'm a music nerd.

But also because I have had wonderful opportunities which resulted in wonderful experiences.

When I think about all the directors I have had since 5th grade I really can't begin to name all of them [some I can though], but I can recall the places/times I've rehearsed/performed over the years.

Counting all the directors at schools, music camps, honor bands/choirs, workshops, community groups...

A guess of 150 is plausible.


I have been "under the baton" of nearly 150 conductors.

I have observed perhaps 75 more.

To their credit I have respected each one and have been privileged to be in one of their ensembles.

Sure, I've seen the majority of these directors throw some sort of fit - in varying degrees of anger from: stomping from the room and slamming the door, a baton thrown to the floor, suit jackets flung across the room, to megaphones bouncing down the practice field, to chairs and/or stands thrown being smashed against the wall.

Sure, I've been the target of some of these fits. And usually deservedly so. (My precocious behavior of my youth is not the topic of this post.)

However, I have been fortunate to have never had one of these conductors abuse their role of B-O-S-S and direct personal jabs at me or a fellow band/choir/orchestra mate.

Fits were a response to behavior, frustration, ....whatever.

But none...out of 150...have made the tirade a personal tirade against any one student.

I believe that when a conductor, especially one who is also in the role of teacher (but then, they are all teachers in some way, are they not?), abuses that position he/she loses a bit of respect in the eyes of the ensemble.

And once that is lost, it is difficult to regain.

Part of the responsibility of being a conductor is self-control, integrity, patience, and understanding.

Actually, the characteristics of a conductor could go on and on.

Don't get me wrong, there are countless phenomenal conductors out there.

Sadly, the few rotten apples ruin the whole basket.

Today's post is dedicated to them.

Sadly, they more than likely don't know who they are.

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