Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Jen Daigle & Isaac Lavadie - District 51 Music Teachers - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 15

June 07, 2021 Jen Daigle & Isaac Lavadie Season 2 Episode 15
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Jen Daigle & Isaac Lavadie - District 51 Music Teachers - Full Circle With The Christi Reece Group - Episode 15
Show Notes Transcript

It's summer break, so Christi had an opportunity to sit down with popular (and busy) District 51 music teachers, Jen Daigle from East Middle School and Isaac Lavadie from Grand Junction High School.  They discuss their passion for teaching, the importance of music in schools, teaching through COVID, and their hopes for the future.  An inspiring talk with these community leaders who mean so much to our kids!

If you would like to support the music in our schools, reach out directly to the schools, District 51, or contact GJHS Band Parents at [email protected] or check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GJHSMusicParents/.

You can watch a full video of the interview on our YouTube page at https://youtu.be/DHPJuHnIdAM.

Christi:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert, Christi Reece and her team here from the movers, shakers, and characters of the grand Valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hello Everyone. Christi Reece here. Welcome back to the full circle podcast. I'm really excited today to have two amazing educators with us from the district 51 school district. And , uh, we have miss Jen Daigle, who is the band teacher at East middle school. And Mr. Isaac Lavadie, who is the director of bands at grand junction high school. Welcome. Thanks for having us. Yeah, well , I wanted to invite you to on our podcast because , uh , as Jen knows, I'm a big supporter of , um, public schools. And I think music education is really important and both my kids went to East and had Jen and I, I, along with all the other parents that have had kids at East middle school are just in awe of you and my kids have not gone to grand junction high, but Suzanne Hanzl who's on our team. Uh, her son is in the band program with you and they speak so highly of you too. And so I don't know how you all do it.

Jen:

We're going to dive into that today. I want to talk about schools

Christi:

And band and kids and how our community can help you do your jobs better and what we need in the schools. So like to start out with you, Isaac, tell us a little bit about your background, how you got to grand junction and how you got to be director of bands at grand junction.

Isaac:

Sure. Well, I moved here when I was three I'm from Utah. And , uh , so this is, this is my home. I still have family in Utah, but , um , I'm, you know, this is, this is my home here. And , uh , um, I'm from, from the area. So I went to school at , um, central high school. I graduated from central in 2002, and then I went to Mesa state college as it was back then. And , uh, got my degrees there. Um , I got a bachelor's in music education, K through 12 and also percussion performance. And then I was all set to go get my master's at Eastern Washington university. I'm going , I had a plane ticket. I was, I was going to go and meet, meet my , um, future students at the university and the grand junction high school job opened up. And so everyone was like, Hey, you should just apply for it. Get the experience of an interview. And I was like, okay, I can do that. And then , uh , I got offered the job and I turned, it actually turned it down like three times. And I was just like, no, I was like, I I'm sorry. I would love to do it someday. But right now I want to go and pursue my, get my master's . And , um, and they kept calling back and I mean, I had Joseph was calling it bread. I mean, all of these big names in our, in our town are like, please take this. And so I had to call the university and like, Hey guys, I'm sorry, but I've actually taken a job here. Um, have it haven't regretted it. Having never looked back, never looked back and now I just finished year 14. Well , um, so yeah, it's been great.

Christi:

And tell me about the instruments you play in your music history.

Isaac:

So percussion , um, that's what I mainly play. And so a lot , all the mound instruments, any , any drums , uh, we play with in a symphony and we do that. Um, um, so those are my main instruments, but being a music educator, you have to learn how to play all of them. So you get, you know, it's just phenomenal. It's fun somewhere. Some are a little easier than others to get to catch onto . But , um, so yeah, I haven't had to play them all. And , um, I actually, during the spring semesters , I'll take lessons with teachers in town and just take one-on-one private lessons and get better at that. Um, I'm very, hands-on with my learning. And so I figured if, if I can sit there and figure it out, you know , um , I'm able to help newer students sit down and figure it out too. Um , and that's been really, really beneficial for me. So it's, it's fun being in a symphony cause I have friends with local professionals and like, Hey, I've even traded lessons with some other middle school directors, Hey, I'll give you 30 minutes to trombone. If you give me 30 minutes of trombone lessons, I'll give you a 30 minute percussion. And they're like, Oh my God, this is great. Um, so we , you know, we take our, we use our resources as much as we can and there's a lot of talented musicians. Gosh, so many.

Christi:

Yeah. And , um, do you teach marching band as well? Is that part of your repertoire and that's a whole different animal.

Jen:

That's just so much fun though . You gotta play and walk at the same time . So

Isaac:

Telling my students, I think this is going to be my 24th season of marching band coming up , um , being a member and then also teaching or tacking with the drum lines. Um , I also do the drum line at Colorado Mesa university. So not , not only am I super busy with the high school program, but then I have to go and do the college drum line too , but that's so much fun.

Christi:

I bet it is. And they have a great program that CMU and a practice field dedication. Right. Does that help you out? Do you ever use that? Oh yeah,

Isaac:

We use it all the time, especially with our percussion camp because we just, no one else is around. And so we just have access to the entire, they call it the garage, we call it the garage. And so we get the whole access to that and it's , it's just a lot of fun. It's kind of, kind of our area. We kind of, all the drums are stored in there and we practice. And when you have a great view of the door , big doors open, you get to see the monument and it's just like, Oh my gosh, there's so many houses right there, surrounded

Christi:

By college kids. Exactly . Like they get

Isaac:

It and they get it. So it's a lot of fun. Awesome.

Christi:

All right, Jen, tell us a little bit about your history in grand junction. Well,

Jen:

I did not grow up in grand junction. I grew up in Massachusetts , um, and I went to college out there and taught for a couple of years there. And in Massachusetts you had to get a bachelor's a master's degree. You had to start working on it within so many years of starting to teach. Um, and in Ohio, bowling green state gave me a free ride as long as I would go and teach there , their undergrad classes. So I moved to Ohio, I hated Ohio. I did not want to go back to new England where it was incredibly crowded. So I sat down at a math one day and said, where do I want to move? And I got hired for a job in Arizona. And then we had a heat wave and I called them immediately and said, I don't want to move to Arizona. So I got a job over in Colorado Springs for two years. And then that just wasn't really my scene or there, it was just too many people. And this job over here opened up and I had done a lot of research and I had never been to grand junction until after they hired me. So, but I came, no, they hired me. And then I said, okay, you know, I really like to come and see the school. So I came and I saw the school and now I just finished year 12 here.

Christi:

And what instruments do you play? I mean, besides everything

Jen:

Your specialty is, you're in, I'm a French horn player. Um , I really enjoy playing trumpet, but it's like he said, it's a little bit of everything. I have a bassoon sitting in my living room this summer because I'm really, really bad at it. And so the goal for the summer is to be able to play it a little bit better. Cause right now the deal is the bassoon players are not allowed to ask me any questions about the instruments. It's like, you can play this instrument and I will help you as much as I can, but don't ask me anything. Super advanced.

Christi:

Love it, love it. Um, I can't imagine what it's like to have all of these little people, especially in middle school when they're first. So many of them are trying their first instrument. I mean, in high school, maybe some of them have played before and a little bit in middle school, but how do you wrangle all those kids? Because I was amazed from the first concert in sixth grade, just to the end of sixth grade, like , wow, they're playing all of them together.

Jen:

Well, the kids don't like me at the beginning. I , I run the class very like almost boot campus style for the beginning where it's, you know, we start with, this is the top of the case. I mean, that's literally, we start with how to open the case and then we start with open the case and look at the instrument, don't touch it. And if one person touches it, we all go back and start it all over again. So there are years that we don't touch the instrument for like most of the first day. Um, and then it's just a matter of just everything super strict and regimented at the beginning. And then once they're comfortable and I'm comfortable with them holding the instruments without damaging them. I definitely, I get to relax a little bit, but that first two months where we're learning how to hold it and make a sound. I mean, we learned three notes in two months and it's, it's painful.

Christi:

So I think it's kind of like , um, when your first child is born and you think they're the most beautiful child, and then you look back on the photos and you think, Oh, they were kind of lizard . Like, but I remember , um, when my kids had their first concerts , I was

Jen:

They're so good. Oh my goodness. They sound so great.

Christi:

And then I would go to somebody else's concert.

Jen:

Yeah. My kids were great.

Christi:

And I think you have to have a real sense of humor to lead a bunch of kids like that, don't you?

Isaac:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Especially the middle school. They , uh,

Jen:

Sarcasm sarcasm. They really,

Isaac:

Yeah. They're starting to kind of figure out, starting to figure that out a little bit. And that's, that's exciting. I , when they get to me, they already figured that out and it's, I can do inside jokes with them and crack jokes and it's a lot of fun, but it's been neat, like going over there sometimes you'll go and like tell a joke and there's , they don't get, it just kind of goes over their head. You're like, all right, well, I'll save that for the high schoolers. Um , but it's , it's a lot of fun to work with them. Um, you know, you never have the same day twice, so you never really know what you're going to come into. Um, and that's, that's what makes it fresh and exciting every day . Cause yeah, we're teaching the same kind of stuff, but you never know what the personalities that are bringing that day or whatever, it's it changes all the time. So

Jen:

Wow. It is. And it's so amazing watching them grow too. I know you don't get to see it as much, but when they come in, you know, not just as a musician, but they start off at like, you know, four foot six and they ended up towering above you, big changes at six to eight grade. Right. There's huge changes. And then it's really what I love is going from that first concert where their highlight is hot cross buns to the last concert in eighth grade. It's just, to me, it's amazing what they can do. And it's just, I hope that they feel like they've gotten something accomplished and they've learned, you know, not just music but other important lessons too .

Christi:

And do you have a lot of the local students that go on to play after high school?

Isaac:

We have quite a few that will continue on at the college level. Um , we've had a couple that have made it to like they've gone on and they're professionals now. And I'm like, that's not my major goal is to try to get as many of them to do that. But the ones that are driven , um, it's really cool to see that and just be like, Hey, remember when your first major concert send me a ticket, cause I want to come and watch that. So it must make you feel really

Speaker 5:

Proud when you see someone continue like this . Really ?

Jen:

Yeah. One thing I didn't realize when I moved to grand junction is grand junctions really good at supplying their own set of teachers. Like Isaac grew up here and there's a lot of teachers that teach here who grew up in the area, which when I moved here, I didn't know anything about the town. And so I thought it was just this little town in the middle of nowhere and there wasn't going to be much music or arts. And then I got here and there were just so many opportunities and it was really interesting for me to see how many people actually grew up here and went through the programs that we're now doing.

Christi:

What kind of continuing education is there for music teachers? What do you get to go do? And I, you talked about the fact that you're in the symphony and you rely on some of the other players there, but do you get to go to festivals or some kind of continuing education

Isaac:

In the summer? I'm usually the third week of July. Uh, we're a part of a group called Colorado Bandmasters association and they do a , um, a three-day convention for just band directors. Um, so we go to that every year. Um, and that's really nice because you can get continuing credit through CSU if you want. Or you can just go and just take a couple classes and just learn from other teachers in , in Colorado. Um, so they do that for us in July. And then in , um , January, they do, we have a card on music educators, association, convention that we do at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Um, and that's, that's where you can really take a bunch of different classes and get, get some credits there if you'd like. So , um, nothing like formal, but I mean it's, it's, we definitely take advantage of that. So we can, we can recharge our batteries and kind of learn, see there's some of the new techniques that are going out there or we get to hear new pieces that are being introduced. Or , um, for me it's more of just the networking with other directors and to commiserate with other habits like, Hey, I'm having troubles with this. Like what, what strategies are working for you? And then they're like, Oh, have you done this? Or have you checked this website out or have you seen this? And, and that's, that's been very beneficial for us. Wonderful.

Jen:

One of the other things they have is , um, there's groups on Facebook. The one that I like to follow is it's called middle school band directors and they're about 17,000 people on this page. And so it's great because I can put a question up there, like I'm having trouble teaching this and within 10 minutes I'll have 20 different answers. Um, and it's also good because I read through it and I'm like, Oh, I'm not alone. I'm not the only one that can't do this. And it's , there's a lot of comradery, even though you don't know the people, but just kind of knowing what they're going through and you're in the same boat. Sometimes I am very fortunate as to the boat we are in compared to the boat they are in.

Christi:

Well, let's talk about some of the challenges , uh, let's start with COVID. I mean, what a crazy year and Jen and I were just talking about, it was hard on the kids, but it was hard on the teachers too. And , uh, watching you guys try to adapt with masks and playing wind instruments and things, it just must've been nuts. How did you get through that? What , what did you do to help your students and yourself get through that?

Isaac:

Yeah , the hard part was I think starting out because , um, you know, we ended our fourth quarter, you know , last year and we didn't know what to expect. And so from in the marching band world, like we're already starting for the season. And so we had, I had planned three different shows on what we're going to do. Are we going to be competitive or are we not? And then if we're going to be competitive, how, how competitive is it going to be? Are we going to be able to travel? Um, and then if it's not competitive, what do we have to ? So I had to make sure you have all these things. So I'm used to planning, just one show. And this last season I had to plan three and they were all completely different. Um, they all came with different costs to the students and it was just like, what are we going to do? But , um, luckily , um, I think having a plan was really , um, it's beneficial for the students and the parents because it's like, Hey, I'm not just winging it here. Like, we've thought about it. Like we're as band directors where we're constantly planning ahead. We have to have to think ahead. We have to figure out what's going to come next. Um, and so that was really nice to have those options. Um , but it was before then it was just like, I don't know what's going to happen. And then what , what's it going to look like when we get back in the building? Like, so we had all the different spacing requirements that we had to do. We had the , the , the masks, like you mentioned, the bell covers, I mean all the different stuff. And , um, at first it was kind of like, okay, this is going to be like, Oh my gosh, like, is this going to be worth it? And then we heard about some of our friends from, from the Denver schools and they're like, they're not even in person. They're just going to be virtual the whole time. And we were in virtual for like four

Jen:

Weeks. Well , for four weeks we were virtual for one because the middle schools went back.

Isaac:

That's right. That's right. And I was like four weeks. I'm like, I like, this is our activity is not designed for this. And so I was like, I'll take whatever. Um, whatever things you're telling us to do, I'll take it. If that means we get to be in person right . To play and , you know, whatever hoops you have to jump through. Fine. So goes to the administration. Oh my gosh, Dr. Sirko and everybody that made it happen for us. Like that was, that was just great. We were able to play

Jen:

And they were really willing to help get the products that we needed. Like he was talking about the band mass. It wasn't a cost to the kids that came through COVID relief money through the national government. Yeah , I think so. And so, you know, just a shout out to Kathy Joseph, who's the music coordinator and she ordered it all and she was just on top of it from the beginning, it took a lot of stress off of us because I know for the first couple of weeks we didn't have that stuff. And it was like, what are we going to do? So we went outside and begged buckets with them sex . I don't know what everyone else did, but we all became drummers really fast, but , um, it was nice to have somebody. So it was like, I knew that we were banging the buckets, but I knew that there was an end to it insight.

Christi:

So besides COVID we know that arts in general have had a challenging time in schools. Uh, funding has been cut way back for all kinds of art programs, including music. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing your program in your school? And district-wide Jen,

Jen:

You know, this is not a funding issue for arts . My biggest challenge is the size of my classroom. Um, we squish in, in a non COVID year, 55 kids into a classroom, I suppose it's probably within fire code, but that doesn't include all the drums and all the extra stuff we have out. And so it's very difficult to teach because I can't walk around and the kids and the kids are playing in funny angles, just so they can sit next to each other without, you know, touching each other. So for me, that's one of my biggest things and they go back to that really doesn't have to do with the funding. Um, we're really fortunate here and it's a truly long standing program here. I feel like we have a lot of support from the community. I have a lot of instruments. Um, for me, it's getting those kids involved. Who've never done it before and educating the parents, you know, cause we have so many kids who live in apartments and they can't practice. And we have so many parents who say, well, you can't do this because you can't practice. You know? And there's always a work around to it. And I know your classroom is well , our room's

Isaac:

Pretty small too. Um , so it's, it's kind of nice too though. I mean, they come from a small middle school room, they come to a small high school room, so they're used to it, but it's like, they could , it could be a lot better if they, if they had just better facilities sort of thing, I guess, which is hopefully, you know, for us, hopefully we can get that going.

Christi:

We are going to replace grand junction high school. This is our year. It needs to

Isaac:

Happen. Yeah. And similar, similar sort of thing, or just like , um, you know, can we provide instruments for, I think there's kind of a misconception. Sometimes people are like, Oh , I can't afford to buy an instrument. And so they just don't even come try and it's like, no , no, we can, we can help you. We can make that happen, but you have to let us know. And so kind of getting the word out there that are just like, we are willing to work with you any way we can to get people in our, in our classrooms and B get them involved in the arts because it is so important. Um , and we'll, we'll do whatever we can to work around any roadblocks that you guys have, so you can become involved.

Jen:

Like the last thing I want is instruments sitting in the back closet in students out front who maybe couldn't afford to do it going, Oh, I want to play that instrument. So, you know , you really gotta be willing to work with those students in those families to make stuff happen for them. Yeah . Yeah .

Christi:

Why do you think that music education is so important for kids? What do you see it do for them? I,

Isaac:

For me, it just, it makes them more human. I mean, they're the district's pushing, you know , really big social, emotional learning. And , um, you'd be surprised at how many times I can , especially in my class where , you know, like this last semester we had 96 minute periods and you'd be surprised like sometimes half of that class period, we were just talking about what's going on in your worlds right now? How are your people, how has COVID effected you? How like, how's your how's life going? And sometimes they just need that release. Like I know sometimes they'd be stressed out with homework or stressed out with , um, I'm having more and more students that have to have a job outside of school , um , more so than I've ever had and just to help with, you know, support the family. And sometimes they just need, they just need a chance to vent in a safe room and yeah. And in order it's like, I'm more than happy to give that to them. And , um, that, I think that means more to them maybe even eighth than they even know, then they even realize that they can have a safe place to come and talk and just vent, especially to like another adult. Cause sometimes, sometimes maybe they, they don't want to talk their parents about leaving me . I'm just stresses of just having a job, you know, because they don't want to put guilt on the parent or whatever. And I can just tell them, Hey, here's some of my experiences or here's how you're helping or, Oh my , you know, like I think that's just important for them to have it just a safe place to , to just have that outlet and music offers that because like , we're kind of, we're not getting judged or, you know, standard tests or anything like that. We can, you know, if I don't have to teach my content for half the period, I'm okay with that because I can still still get our product out there and it will still be fine. We don't have the demands of standardized testing or anything like that.

Christi:

Right. Jen, what do you think what's , what's important about it?

Jen:

I guess watching the little guys, so it East, the kids are required to do band orchestra or choir. So they're forced into a performing class and a lot of them don't want to be, and then a lot of them end up loving it, which is really great to see. But I like watching them just grow in their confidence. You know, they get this instrument and all of a sudden they're expected to play it in front of people and we'll be in class and we'll just go right down the road, play this, play, this, play this. And even though it's in music, I start to watch them volunteer more in other classes and just become outgoing. The other thing is, and I , for me, I think more of high school band when I think this, but it definitely applies to middle school band. There's, you know, you learn how to be part of a team. You have to do your part. And if you don't pull through, you're affecting other people. Um , and then it's just personal responsibility. You know, if you show up to a concert without the instrument, which happens in middle school, maybe not high school. Yeah . You have

Christi:

To have your instrument, you have to be wearing the right clothes.

Jen:

You have to be practiced and know your part . Right . And so I just feel like there's a lot of life lessons, you know, there's a lot of great musical things, but I feel for me, my discipline came from high school marching band. I would not be who I was without having done high school marching band. Yeah .

Isaac:

Yeah. We're setting them up by teaching them leadership skills too. And not, not even just the kids on the leadership team. We're just like, Hey, you're, you know, a lot of times you're representing sometimes like the largest group, the largest student organization in this school. And so you got her , I always tell you what we always say, remember who you represent, because if you're wearing any junction band gear or anything like that, and you're out cussing in the hallways or doing bad thing , cheating or whatever in class, it's like, you're , you're reflecting poorly on our program and we can't do that. So just having just that, that leadership of like, Hey, I'm going to be a better person. I'm going to try to be an example for everyone else. That's not, it doesn't have a group like that. Um, I think that's been, that's been huge too. Cause like, Hey, we want to be like those guys with what makes them different. And they're, they're part of, they're part of it .

Christi:

I love it. And it , and it's part of the school spirit so much a part of the school spirit. Yeah . And getting people excited about where they go to school. Yeah, exactly. And you said you have generally around 55 kids in your class?

Jen:

Um, well it depends on the grade level. In seventh grade, I have about 55 , um , in sixth grade band when they're required to do it, I generally have about 70 total. Wow. But they're split into two different classes. Um, we get to rehearse for each concert together once. So when the parents hear the sixth grade band, what they don't realize is they've never, the kids don't know the other parts. They play the show and they play all the music, but they've never heard the other parts until that day. And so, and then phenomenon between seventh and eighth grade, we'll lose a couple, probably end up in the mid forties. Okay.

Christi:

And how about you? How many students do you have at any one time in your different classes?

Isaac:

It just depends on which type of band it is. So once they get to that, the high school level, they can kind of start to pick a little bit more on what they want to focus on. So for example, like if we have jazz band, like, you know, jazz fans we've and you have anywhere from 20 to 25, you don't want to get too much bigger than that, because then it kind of ruins the sound of what the , the , the band supposed to be like. Um, whereas in middle school it was like, Hey, you all come playing at 30 to 40 people. I mean, I've had my freshmen jazz band. I've had, like, I remember one year I had like 40 kids in there, but it's like, I also knew I'm going to use those 40 and kind of fit them into the upper two bands at some point. Um, so the jazz bands have anywhere from my 20 to 25 concert bands are open to anyone, you know , I'll come play. Um, I have a top group that's auditioned. And so I try to cap that around 40 students. It just depends on instrumentation and how many people I have and then the symphonic bands open to everyone. So I think this last year had like 55 in there. Um, and then the marching band, just, if you can, if you want to put in the time, come, come do it. So , um, last season we had 85 and then , um, during cope , the last, you know , COVID season, we only had 65. So we took a little bit of a hit there. Um, you know, but we'll, we'll get those numbers back up now that we're kind of back to normal. Now I know

Christi:

It was super disappointing that you all were supposed to go over to Colorado Springs and play and the weather what

Isaac:

Happened. Yeah. I feel really bad for this, the class of 2021 because their junior year , um , we were doing really, really well , um, really talented class. And then we , our state got canceled. Marching band state got canceled the week of state. And like , it was like the day before, two days before. And it was just the weather. I mean, we can't control that and it's Colorado and it's Colorado. Exactly. And so we had to cancel state marching band, which is a huge, huge thing for them. Um, and so in the last year, seniors too, I felt bad for them. It was like their senior year. They missed out on their senior trip and then the juniors had it now. They had it two years in a row. And this year I'm like my seniors this year were like extremely talented, like had a really special group. And I felt terrible because they couldn't share them. I couldn't share their talents with anyone because just those opportunities didn't exist. So it's really unfortunate for them. But again, nothing we can do about it, but it was just like, man, like they were so very, really good class. Well,

Christi:

I know from having my kids in Jen's class, my son , um, is , uh, seeing with Mr. Dody out at Palisade. And I see the love that the kids have for you as band and music teachers. And it's really inspiring. Yeah . I mean, I do see that you, you make those personal relationships with the kids. It's a little bit different than a math teacher. Yeah .

Jen:

And it's nice that we get them. I get them for three years and you get them for four years. So by the time we, I always play the last song of the year in eighth grade, I always play, you got a friend in me and then I'm having goosebumps. We just did this and we just did this. And so , um, but it's like this last time that I get to be with them and they get to be with each other before they go to different schools. And so it's this , this emotional connection that we have and this year they hit a new record and then they started crying before we even started playing. Usually they start crying at the end of the piece, but this year I look over and they're already crying , so I love it. Yeah . Yeah.

Isaac:

And we , and that's, that's, that's so nice for us too, because we get, I remember them when they come in as really scared freshmen. Like , I don't know if I can do this. And then by the end, they're going off and doing know college or they've gone professional or doing whatever. And it's just like, I remember there was a time where you were scared and you were almost going to quit this. And like , aren't you glad you didn't. And, and just to have that, that four years with them, like three years, four years, and it's nice too , because we always try to do combined concerts or we try to , um, have I'll have you come out, I'll come out and work with your groups. And so it's kind of nice because then we get like, they get to see these guys, you know, as, as juniors and seniors in high school, that's really exciting for them. And , um, it's just, it's nice to see because we get to watch them grow like these four years. And it's , um, it's kinda neat to see who , what kind of people they're going to turn turning into.

Christi:

Um, Jen, one of the traditions at East middle school of course is Rock-a-thon, you used to have Rock-a-thon on this spring,

Jen:

Not in the traditional sense. So we couldn't do the Rock-a-thon. So basically we did a Rock-a-thon where we just asked for donations, and then at the end, these kids had missed so much , um, so many opportunities where I was just saying, you know, his ninth graders will have never gone to festival before, which is, you know, they've missed it two years in a row now. Um, and so we decided to do something special in any kid who had participated in the Rock-a-thon, we brought over to bananas this year and just did a fun day with them. Um , which was great. And we still did raise not as much money as we normally did, but we did raise some money. So hopefully next year we get back on track with that the kids were upset. They were horrified that they weren't going to be able to rock. Yeah .

Christi:

That is a very fun event. And my husband went to East middle school a long time ago and he remembers rocket Bon and how fun it was when he was there. And so when my kids got there, he was so excited to just bring as much stuff, you know, chairs and blankets and TV and all that stuff really set them up. The

Jen:

Kids, they love it. I love it. It's of my favorite days of the year. So it was really, I was sad not to do it, but it was really fun to take them out to bananas and see them outside of the school setting. You know, again, it's like one of those things that we can kind of do that maybe some of the core teachers can't do.

Christi:

And where does the money go from? Uh , fundraisers like Rockefeller everywhere.

Jen:

Um, I, besides instrument repairs, I don't get a budget from the school. So every piece I want to buy, if it's a new piece of music, if we need some new music stands next year, we need some new chairs and next year need new. I just bought probably $3,000 worth of instruments this year, which sounds like a lot, but it's two instruments. Um , but for me, most of what I see it going towards is helping the kids that can't afford it. You know, there's just so many kids that want to be involved and can't afford the rental fee, or they can't even for clarinets afford reeds for the instruments. So a lot of it goes to that, but I mean , just goes everywhere. I know you , you do a ton of other stuff with it.

Isaac:

Yeah. We will. We'll give scholarships for private lessons. I know you guys do that too sometimes like for our marching band fees, if students need help with that, we can, we give them scholarships for that. Um, and always keeping , always keeping the little things, you know , um, in stock like reeds and, you know , um, valve grease or about court grease or all those sorts of things and say, Hey, can I borrow this? And like, yeah, you can, you know, you can have that. That's fine. Um, those, those certain things that , that's what we use the money for too. And also music and chairs and stands. And don't forget that. And instruments and instruments always instruments, always.

Christi:

Um, I think that anybody that's watching this that doesn't know you all, or even if they do, they're gonna realize what caring, hardworking educators you are. I mean, it's really amazing how much time you put in and how much love you put in for these kids. You really want to see them grow and help them succeed. Really heartwarming. Yeah . Um, so how can parents and other community members help , um, can they make donations? Can they volunteer? What do you all need from the parents of not only the students, but from our community?

Jen:

Well, I always tell the parents that I'll take their money anytime they want to give it to me. It doesn't have to be for the ROP avant . Um, but just having that word of mouth, getting businesses to donate prizes for the rockets sawn or donating money that really helps with them. There's a lot of things that don't involve money that they can help out with, like coming in during the day I had , um, the father who used to come in and he would organize my music and he would photocopy and he would take care of that. Some of that other stuff that I just had a hard time getting to, or I've had other parents who knew a little bit of mountain music and they would come in in the beginning of sixth grade and helped me get, you know, cause putting together a clarinet takes 45 minutes to get it together the first day with 45 children or whatever, but just having people in the classroom being supportive. I mean, there are a lot of kids whose parents are working. They don't even get to go to concerts, just supporting their children, showing up to the concert, you know, taking an interest, you know, being motivating.

Isaac:

Yeah. I agree with all that. And um, also like encouraging them just to keep, keep it going. I mean, music's difficult. I mean, it's, it's a , it takes a lot of work and it takes, you know, you gotta be consistent with it. And I think there's a lot of people out there that are, you know, they're going to try, they want to try sometimes too many things. And it's like become Jack of all trades and masters of none and, you know, sign up like, well, what's, you know, keep insisting that they pursue it and keep going and don't, don't quit when it gets hard. Um , and it'll pay off. I promise you it'll pay off. And uh, so that's how they can help, you know, on , on my end and always, you know, always will , you know, donations and those sorts of things are great too. But um, any sort of time they can give and just supporting their, their student musicians and saying it's worth it. Maybe, you know, take them to a symphony concert. Or if you can't afford a symphony concert, come do a rehearsal. I just see, you know, the professionals in town and what we get to do, a lot of them are going to see their, their music teachers up there cause a good chunk of them are, are performing in those groups.

Christi:

So expose your kids to all kinds of music. Exactly .

Isaac:

Um , that'd be, you know, the , the , all those things are great. Um, and then also, you know, maybe your kid did give up music or didn't continue on with it. And there's an instrument laying around your, your house somewhere. We'll take it here , bring it to us. Um, you know, we'll make sure we have a student that can play it, you know, instead of selling it on Facebook, right.

Jen:

Donate it. Please donate your instruments to the schools. We'll find a place. Yes, we

Isaac:

Would love it. So , um, those are certain things that they can do to help us, you know, but just, we're, again, we're in a fortunate area. Our , our community is very supportive of the arts and we just want to keep it that way. And we, we also want to let those people know, it's like, we , we do recognize that it's not, you know, we, we see that you guys are supportive of us and we just want to give back and we want to help. But , um, you know, please, you know, just keep whatever it takes to keep music in , in the students' lives. Don't, don't give up on it just because it gets hard or they have a bad day or something. Cause that's really easy to do.

Christi:

I really don't like playing this instrument.

Jen:

My mother, I was not going to play the flute past the end of fourth grade. She made me play all of fourth grade and I hated her for it. Yeah . You love her now sometimes.

Christi:

Um, how much do you see kids using YouTube to help them with their learning process

Isaac:

All the time? Yeah, especially this one, like we went online for a little bit. Um, we had to be creative with some of our assignments. And so like I remember one of mine was , um, I, during our planning, I had, I got a list of , um, every instrument and like professionals on that instrument. And then you got a bunch of YouTube links and I was like, okay, you know, like your assignment today is to go and click on two videos and watch these videos and then write what you took from it. And, and now we have these resources now for forever. Cause we just throw it in Google classroom and now they have that. And it's so that was kind of nice. And so you just kind of showing them like, here's where you can go to find some information, but they're already doing that kind of stuff. Right . I think when you see ,

Christi:

Um, musicians like Sean Mendez , who says you taught himself to play the guitar and

Jen:

Actually I just really inspired class. So I teach this guitar class and some of the days I literally just have them take their Chromebooks out and I say, okay, I want you to pick a song you want to play. And I want you to teach it to yourself because they they'll learn better from a YouTube video than they will from me standing in front of them, lecturing them particularly on guitar. So it's really interesting. Or the sixth graders in general, they come in in like January and they'll go, I went online and I learned to play this song. And so it's a lot of them taking the steps above and beyond is really where that's too . But I don't know if you've seen these, there's all sorts of beginning band bootcamps now that you can send kids to. And it literally starts with how to put the instrument together. So if you had a kid that just couldn't wait until the end of the summer, they could get started now and have some good quality instruction.

Isaac:

Yeah . I know a lot of the military bands are doing that too. When all this started going down, I mean they, their performances got stopped. So they, what they are getting paid to do, they weren't able to, they couldn't travel, they couldn't perform. And so they just started making these videos just like that. I just like, yeah. So the simple thing, like putting it together to preparing for an audition for college or for, you know, a military band or whatever, they took you through that whole, that whole process, some of these, and this is great because now we have those resources that it's just because of COVID is over. It doesn't mean that stuff's going to disappear. It's like now it's out there. And so, you know, one of the things I was trying to teach the students is like, what, what, I mean, what positives can we pull from this because of is such a big thing and it can easily get you down and you can spiral down pretty quick. So I was like, we got to try to find some of the positives from it. And so having these resources now, it's been, that's been huge for

Speaker 5:

Them too. Awesome . What

Christi:

Kind of music do you like to listen to

Jen:

In your free time on

Isaac:

Spotify? I have so much, I have so many different playlists . Um, and for, for me, my, my kind of my go-to answer for that is anything that has a good beat, cause I'm a drummer. So I like to, you know, I like to practice with it. Like I have different playlists for, you know, like snare drums or drum set or whatever. I have different playlists on Spotify and , um, warmups and just all that kind of stuff. So for me, if it has a good beat , um, I'm , I'm pretty, I'm pretty good with it. Yeah . So

Christi:

If you haven't, you need to go to carnival in Brazil. I would love that.

Isaac:

Do sign me of a Samba bands there

Speaker 5:

On the streets . I would love that. Thank you . Amazing. Um,

Isaac:

So , uh , and then obviously , you know, classical music, depending on what we have for symphony coming up or whatever. So I have a huge range of, of music I listened to because again, sometimes the students they'll, Hey, have you heard this band? Or you heard this artist? And I'm like , no, I haven't. But I was like, if they're digging into it and it's like, it's , it's great for me because I don't have time to listen to all of it. But , um, and then I can, then I have another way I can connect with them. Like, Hey, did you hear so-and-so released a new album or whatever? I mean , and some weird stuff. So, I mean, it's not just not just like jazz band or classical music, but they're , you know, like some rap or whatever, like emo stuff or, I mean, if we , I know that, but I know that album, there's just like, what, like how do you throw that out and hang with you guys. I don't understand what they're saying, but it's like, I can at least, you know , I can understand who you're listening to. Um, you know, so that's, that's kind of what my go-to is right now. I'm just, I'm listening to like movie soundtracks. Like I just love movies , soundtracks. I do . So I've been listening to a bunch of those because there's just, it's just fun to listen to. Yeah . Um , just great music. So that's kind of currently where I'm at. So how about you, Jen,

Jen:

Shunned by the music community for this? When I get home, I've spent so much time listening to no offense to the children and love them dearly. And some of them make music, but a lot of them make noise. Um, I like to spend some time in quiet. So I do listen to, like he was saying, I , I try to listen to a little bit of everything. And if a kid says to me, Hey, have you heard this van ? The very first thing I'm going to do is say, go pull that up on my computer on YouTube and I'll watch it once you're gone. Or I, there are some types of music. I won't go into what they are that I don't particularly like that everyone thinks I like, I respect to them and I will listen to it. And I, I have a hundred percent respect and admiration for what they can do. And, but it's not really my thing, but it doesn't mean I don't, I don't listen to it because I feel like every single time you listen to something that's out of your comfort zone, you're growing as a musician. So I try to listen to a bunch of different things. Yup . Wonderful. But my go-to, which also will get me shunned, come on would be classic rock, classic rock. I

Speaker 5:

Argue with them, it's my go to it's really good . I

Christi:

Love it when my son's playlist comes on and something that I know every word to plays on his playlist and then I get to sing it with them . And then they say ,

Jen:

I used to teach a history of rock and roll course, and I kind of gave that up now for guitar, but I'm going to combine them a little bit next year. So they'll get some, and it's really, it's fascinating to watch the kids kind of have the same attitude we do because when they start off, they're like, I am not going to listen to the Beatles. And I am not going to listen to that by the time they're done, they've got all that stuff on their iPods. And so that's always really, and then it's really great because they'll say, Hey, what bands are you doing once you research your band and present it to the class? And then now I'm the cool teacher and the no , that's like the

Christi:

Song got to keep doing that. Kids need to know the history of rock. It's really important. Um, we have just a few minutes. Um, I want to know what you're looking forward to in this next school year. Hopefully things are pretty much back to normal in the classroom. So what are you excited about

Jen:

Not having to wear masks , not having to wear masks, although I'm sure we probably will. Yeah . Yeah.

Isaac:

At some point that would be nice for me. It'd be, you know, like , um , getting the performance opportunities to get, to come back. Um , like we didn't get to, like , usually you mentioned Rock-a-thon earlier on like , um, we try to go and perform at all the Rock-a-thons. Um , we go , we use it as recruiting and to kind of show the middle schools like, Hey, you can look forward to this in high school. Um, and we didn't get to do any of that this year. So for me, just getting to get the students to go out and perform again, that's going to be, that's going to be really nice. Um, we had a couple of, we've been trying to get our jazz band to go play at , um, some of the nursing homes around town and every time we get a plan, we're ready to go and then something happens and it gets canceled. And it's just like, ah, like I wish we , we want to try to give back to the community in that way. And so the more that we can get out there to perform, like that's what we're looking forward to the most. So that'll be, that'll be really nice to didn't share the , share the talents with everyone else. Like that'll be fun festivals and those sorts of things, concerts.

Christi:

We had the Palisade , uh , concert in the park at the end of the year that they do out there. That was so nice. And they had all the bands together and the choir and the outside beautiful scene . Yeah , it was wonderful. Yeah, really

Jen:

Appreciate it. I know the first time he doesn't know this, but the first live concert I went to was actually his concert really with his concert bands. Sometimes must've been their preview concert, but it was just such an emotional experience. I never thought listening to a bunch of high schoolers making music would make me cry, but it was just this moment of, Oh my gosh, you know, life is moving on. These kids are starting to get to act like kids. We can enjoy some quality music. And then when I did my concerts, you know, several weeks later, the parents had a lot of the similar experience I did. And I think it's just, we miss live music so much and it doesn't have to obviously be in the schools. It could be, you know, red rocks, right .

Christi:

I don't care. Who's coming to the amphitheater this summer. I'm going . So then

Jen:

You should know one , this June 12th , um , the symphony is doing a concert. I don't remember what is geared. It's geared towards children like musical stories. And it's free as long as you call ahead and you get a ticket. Cause there's only a certain number of people that can go, but it's right there at the amphitheater. And I know we're both playing in it along with a bunch of the other music teachers. Yeah . Wonderful.

Christi:

June 12th. Yep . Okay. And you go online to the Symphony's

Isaac:

Website. Yeah . GJ symphony.org , I think. Okay. Wonderful. Come say hi. We'll be there.

Christi:

Wonderful. Well, I thank you so much for joining us today and I'm really excited to highlight the work that you do and I, that you appreciate all the other music teachers in the district. Um , I know everybody works really hard to make sure our kids are getting good music education. Um, I didn't plan this today, but I've been really inspired by you all. And I want to let you know that we're going to donate $500 to each of your programs And just say a big, thank you for all the hard work that you do. I really appreciate that. Yeah. I'll tell

Jen:

You right now that I have to buy a flute and that will just about cover it. We'll cover it. Fantastic. I can tell you right now, we'll put the flute with the case on your name on it. Oh my gosh. Honors . That's what we need. We would

Christi:

Be honored. Okay. Well thank you to Jen Daigle and Isaac Lavadie, and we will see you next time on the full circle podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Speaker 1:

Bye. Thanks for listening. This is Christi Reece signing out from the full circle of podcast .