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  • Writer's pictureCharles Mekealian

Thoughts on my first year as a music teacher

This school year I finally achieved my goal of becoming a music teacher! It was a learning experience to say the least. I was at a high school and middle school and only had 2 band classes out of my 5. I was faced with a new teaching situation where I had to teach subjects that I never really thought I would. Guitar, Rock Band and MIDI Composition. I essentially had to create an entire curriculum for these classes with little experience. Long story short, I figured it out and made the best of the situation and I have a much better plan in place for next year!

I was also in a situation where both my middle and high school bands were faced with very low enrollment/interest and also coming off of the post pandemic school life. I was so lucky to have such great and talented students at both schools and was able to put on some fun performances as well as do what I could to rebuild the programs in both school communities. I also had a very supportive administration which I am very grateful for as well as being in a district with a bunch of fantastic music educators who were more than helpful along the way.

I wasn’t writing as much music as I wanted but I ended up writing and arranging five pieces that were played between the two bands and I was able to finish a few other projects of my own. One of my biggest fears going into this busy job was that I was not gonna have the time to dedicate to writing but somehow I managed to fit it in with my 4 AM to 11 PM days.

I feel like I was able to maintain a decent work/life balance. I think living 40 minutes away really helped me plan ahead and not stay at school longer than necessary. I could give my attention to my family when I was home after school and not worry about everything else (most of the time).

Overall, it was a great year and I can’t wait for next year!

Here’s a list of things I learned along the way: -Guitar amps are loud. -Sound systems are unreliable. -Even if you have 20 kids in your band, you still need parent help at gigs! -Don’t have a bowl of pics for your 40 person beginning guitar class. (Went through nearly 1000) Give them one and ask them to buy their own. -I learned why you don’t typically have percussion in a beginning band. (Great learning experience) -Working with parents can be great but also the most stressful part of the job. -Make crystal CLEAR guidelines at the beginning of the year for every class. (Take your time over the first two weeks explaining how things should work. -High school kids are still kids. (You can’t expect them to think like adults though you need to help bridge the gap) -Middle school kids are… a lot.

Things we did that were cool -One of my students set up an instrument drive for his Eagle Scout project for our music program and set us up for years to come. -We organized an off campus Jazz Fundraiser performance and will do this annually. -Combined forces with our two middle school a few times. -I designed a ton of promotional materials for both my schools and changed the high school music identity to include all of our music courses. -I was able to get my band on the news for promotion 5 times! -Got to learn an entire new community in San Diego.

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