Who is Tom Taylor?
My teaching career started in 1978 in Valleyview, a town of 2,000 people in northern Alberta. I was a math major when I first entered university, dropped out to get married and went on the road with a 7-piece horn band covering tunes by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, and the like. I could go on and bore you with the details, but the point is that I left the band when my daughter was about to be born, worked in a warehouse for six months, then went back to school and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education without ever taking a woodwind or a brass techniques course.
I was a trombone player and that’s all I knew. I started teaching beginning band with a method book for every instrument laid out over three or four music stands opened to the fingering chart page.
I was not a particularly good band teacher when I started out. I knew next to nothing about anything when it came to beginning band. I read books. I attended band conferences. I listened to on-stage adjudications for other bands at festivals. But most importantly, I talked and listened to experienced, well-respected colleagues. I was that annoying little kid who latched on and never shut up. 🙂
With perseverance I became a much better teacher of beginning bands, consistently winning Gold and Superior Awards at regional and provincial festivals. In 2013 I was part of the staff that opened a new K to 9 school. In March of 2014, after the school had only been up and running for seven months, the Westmount Grade 6 Band received a Gold Award at the Southern Alberta Festival in Calgary and the trophy for Most Outstanding Beginning Band.
I learned a lot in a career that spanned almost 40 years. This is my attempt to share as much as I can remember. I stole a lot of ideas from colleagues to place in my teaching ‘Bag of Tricks.’ You don’t need to steal any from me. I am giving them to you.
How to use this book
This book consists of a lot of ideas and suggestions which are entirely my opinion. No empirical data, just 35 years of experience and anecdotes. It is intended to be a resource; a collection of teaching tips gleaned over 30-some years of teaching beginner bands.
You can learn a lot by sitting with and listening to an old man do his thing. My “thing” is teaching beginning bands. There is nothing I do better, with the possible exception of fly fishing.
My beginning bands consistently received Gold or Superior Awards during my career. They won trophies that stated the adjudicators thought they were the best band in the entire festival.
Why am I writing these words at the risk of sounding cocky and arrogant? To make a point. The things you will read here will help you accomplish the same with your beginning bands.
You will accomplish this only if you are dedicated to your craft. If you are not excited to teach band, please go do something else.
You will accomplish this only if you work hard while maintaining a balance in your life. I worked my ass off for over 30 years. I loved my job. BUT, not as much as I love my family.
I hope you find the ideas and suggestions useful in one of the toughest jobs I know. This is why I structured the book the way I did. It is not a novel. It is not a research report. It is available free for you to use in any way that suits your needs.