Director of Bands, Mario Moody, and music retail CEO, George Quinlan recently shared with us some tips for hosting a First Performance National Day of Celebration.
Mario Moody, Director of Bands, The South Holland School District 115
Q. Please tell our readers a little about your background? Your position? Where do you teach?
I’ve grown up in the world of music education as my father was my middle school band director in a private Christian school. Ironically, most of my teaching experience has been in the urban public school system as a band director and now the arts chair director at Coolidge Middle School.
Q. How many years have you presented a First Performance with your students? In what ways do you find the First Performance National Day of Celebration materials to be most helpful?
Pre-pandemic, we participated in the inaugural launch at the Midwest Band Clinic and the subsequent years before we transitioned to remote learning. Participating in the First Performance National Day of Celebration serves as a motivating tool and benchmark for our beginners to aim for. It further strengthens the concept for beginners that participating in the band is a “performance sport,” and the goal isn’t to always have a perfect performance or concert, but to share the gift of music with others.
Q. What are some of your observations from incorporating a FPNDOC into your fall schedule for your beginners? Did it generate an increased amount of enthusiasm from the students and parents? Did you see an increase in your retention rate? Did it make a difference in how you approach teaching beginning band?
Originally, I was a band director that started the Beginners in the Fall and worked on fundamentals until their first performance at the Spring Concert. In my mind, I thought that it was the best approach when presenting any ensemble to parents and guests. I quickly found out that students became “fatigued” and disinterested in being a part of a group that constantly practiced without a chance to “Show their Stuff.” Providing an opportunity to have students perform not long after they’ve started instills pride in them and their parents and helped me to realize what was obvious that they are “BEGINNERS,” and it’s OK! The group that performed in the Midwest Clinic Demonstration are now 8th graders and have the understanding that our goal when we practice is to share what was learned with an audience. Even though the pandemic made our virtual band rehearsals interesting, to say the least, we prepared a virtual pre-taped concert, which kept them motivated to practice when it was tough to connect. My approach to teaching has evolved to the point that I’m learning that the #1 goal shouldn’t be the awards that are accumulated at competitions and festivals, but to make sure that our beginners feel just as appreciated and valued as our more established ensembles.
George Quinlan, CEO, Quinlan & Fabish Music Company
Q. Please tell our readers about your background? Your position?
My father was also a band director in several Catholic schools in the Chicago area. He also started our company in 1959 while teaching and performing as a professional musician too! I followed in footsteps in many ways trying to help make participating in band & orchestra easier for students, parents, and teachers by providing high-quality school music service. I am CEO of Quinlan & Fabish Music Company with nine stores in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan serving hundreds of school music programs. In addition, I serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for VanderCook College of Music, Treasurer of the Midwest Clinic board and several other advocacy and support organizations including the Music Achievement Council and Artspeaks-204.
Q. Please tell us how have you have participated in the First Performance National Day of Celebration?
We have encouraged schools to participate in FPNDoC as a retention aid for beginning music students. Let’s take our cue from youth sports activities where kids are “performing” right away for their parents after just a few practices…and the parents love it and encourage the kids to continue. A demonstration concert provides insight into the learning process that parents will understand and support. Parents are amazed that a teacher can have 50 students “sit still” for 20 minutes…let alone demonstrate some progress on their instruments!!
Q. How can other music retailers get involved in FPNDoC and partner with their school district?
The Music Achievement Council provides many tools retailers can share with Band & Orchestra directors to participate. I would encourage retailers to visit our website to learn more about FPNDoC and download the Toolkit here.