Now It Is YOUR Turn

By John Gardner

It is normally about this time that Sophomores & Juniors, start to realize that their older friends they’ve look up to, learned from and leaned on, are graduating – and if they dwell on it, they can get down about next year. Don’t!

This is not a new or unique situation. It happens every year. So I would like to encourage you and others who have thought the same thing about graduated friends…. to consider a couple things.

First, if this note is speaking to you it is a compliment. Read more…

Should Music Booster Groups Accept Credit Cards?

Originally posted on QDP Corporation:

By John Gardner

For years, we’ve paid by credit card at department and grocery stores, at restaurants and gas stations. Now that we are handing our cards to the order-takers in fast food drive through lanes — is there anyone NOT accepting credit card payments? Oh yeah, MUSIC BOOSTER GROUPS! Should music booster groups accept credit cards? I say yes – and my three recommendations can be found here.

ps – these might be good options for your business as well… (click the pic)

Credit Card Processing Word Wall

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Common Core for Marching Band

Common CoreMarching Bands in public schools cannot continue to compete in such a way as to assign and support educationally incorrect labels like “winners” and “losers”. We don’t tolerate that in our classrooms, so why should it be acceptable in marching band or any type of competitive music (jazz festivals, concert band contests, show choirs, solo & ensemble, etc)? Bands should follow the academic practice – mainstreaming players into average ensembles, thereby reducing the emphasis and focus on special or gifted performers. Stop emphasizing the win. Crowds should cheer improvement, not excellence (because not everyone will make it to that level) or the final score. Instead of waiting for a government mandate, all public school marching band programs should implement no-bandster-left-behind common core standards.

Read more…

iPads and Garage Band for Student Playing Assignments

By John Gardner

ipad-Pep-Band-CloseupOne of the challenges in working with a larger ensemble is having the time to listen to and critique or advise each musician. Historically there have been the dreaded “playing tests”, where the student comes into a room with the teacher, gets one shot, gets nervous, or  closer to petrified, messes up, feels bad, and leaves almost in tears (or anger). Teachers can add time for conversation to try to calm the nerves, but that adds time and time is a problem.

Read more…

Baseball advice for high school seniors

If you have ever played, watched or coached summer youth baseball, there are variations of the same mistake that young players make. I’ve observed high school seniors making mistakes and life-impacting decisions that remind me of a piece of advice everyone involved in youth baseball has heard.

The batter pops up the ball. The infielder needs to catch it and then throw it quickly for the double play. Too often, in what should have been an easy catch – the player drops the ball, because he is already in the process of throwing it before he has it securely in the glove. So, instead of getting 1-2 outs, both the batter and the runner advance. Then, the coach calls out…


“You have to catch the ball before you can throw it.”


One Second Destiny: Never, Never, NEVER GIVE UP

Originally posted on Huntington North Bands:

I am neither an Alabama nor an Auburn fan. Both are SEC schools. Both beat MY school’s football time whenever they play. My church in Huntington was started by an Alabama grad and then we had an Auburn grad pastor.

These two same-state rivals play in what they call the “Iron Bowl”. Regulation time had expired. However, after review, the refs put 1 second back on the clock. Alabama has to kick a field goal and the game will be over. But as you watch the lone Auburn player under the goal “just in case” they miss — watch him try to pump up the crowd. He hasn’t given up. And then watch what happens. Should be inspiring – no matter who you root for.

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Getting a good reference letter

referencesI’ve written a couple dozen letter this week, although some of those were unsolicited letters to the band seniors at the Band Banquet.

I’ve also uploaded a couple to online college application sites, mailed some directly and handed a few to students.

I wrote this post to try to head off those panic requests that come when students fail to plan.

Mr. G. would you write a letter for me?

Sure, do you have any info for me to use?


When do you need it?

It is supposed to be postmarked today…..and thank you.

I may need a new response to that request. Any suggestions?

Read the post ====> here!

A Collegiate Conversation suggesting a Strategic Systematic Plan

college-savings-11It happens every school year and it is already starting. Many high school students have aspirations of going to a top-tier college (music school, law school, med school) — but then, somewhere during senior year, their dream gets crushed as the academic and/or financial realities set in:

I really wanted to go to [name brand] university, but I’m going to have to settle for [XYZ] because we don’t have the money, I did lousy on the SAT, or on my audition, etc…

Sadly, these are often the students who never took the time to practice and prepare for the PSAT or SAT tests — they just showed up at the test sites and were blown away by both the tests and the results. That shouldn’t happen. Or they waited until two weeks before the music school audition to ask for some help. Unimpressive.They saw that the college application included an essay, but they did what they did all through high school — slopped something together at the last minute, counted the words to make sure they had the minimum and sent it off, expecting spectacular results from mediocre effort. They didn’t apply for the smaller scholarships, only the big ones – and didn’t get them. Their resumes only takes up half a page and they never fostered the relationships with their teachers to earn in depth and powerfully worded recommendations. They didn’t work a plan because there was no plan. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be that way.

This is not about ME, but to establish the credibility to say what I’m going to say, I need to tell you that my college education cost my family ZERO. I bought my first car for college senior year so I could student teach….and paid for it with excess scholarship monies.

That was NOT an accident.

My high school career followed a systematic strategy for which I can thank my band director and clarinet teacher. Much of what worked for me in a previous century worked for our two sons a decade ago. Here’s a rounded numbers snapshot of our college expense experience:

How we did it chart

So, with two out-of-state universities; one private, one public — we paid $32,000 for what should have cost $200,000. Over eight years that was $4,000 per year — $2,000 per semester. Those are community college prices, but these were not community colleges.

How We Did It! 2013

Before I continue, I do have some disclaimers…

I am not a certified guidance counselor, not a college admissions specialist and not a financial guru – but I can speak with authority about “How We Did It – What Worked For Us”. And so that it doesn’t sound like it is all about us, I will also share examples of some HN band grads and show you “How They Did It – What Worked For Them“.

How did I NOT pay the other $168,000? I will tell you. I cannot promise you a free ride — but what if I tell you something that can save you $5,000? Or even $500? Considering the cost of the evening (FREE), what do you have to lose — compared to what you might gain? Hope to see you. Questions?

A Collegiate Conversation

“How We Did It — What Worked For Us”
“How They Did It – What Worked For Them”

Monday, November 25th
Huntington North High School Band Room
450 MacGahan St.
Huntington, IN 46750
(Enter Door 34, Room 224)


Download the flier: “Collegiate Conversation flyer 2013” or see more HERE.

There has been interest expressed in my putting this presentation into an eBook for publication/distribution. If you have interest in that, email

VMO Business Card

VMO Oct 13 5 Page under 50

10+ Values Marching Band Students Learn…

One good postThis article was posted on a different of my blogs and has received more traffic than any I have ever written. It was a followup article to an article, “14 Ways to Volunteer for a Marching Band to Appreciate and Applaud what is Good about Teenage America”, which focused on ways to share your talents and abilities and experience the youthful, enthusiastic atmosphere around a marching band during competition season. This post focuses on some of the values marching band students learn. Read the rest of the article.

Pet Peeves and Plato’s Politics

John Gardner:

Are these political statements from 2500 years ago still valid???? Good…..but sad.

Originally posted on Honey and Locusts:

Earlier this year, I finally got around to finishing Plato’s philosophical treatise, The Republic. Though written almost 2500 years ago, in many ways it speaks into contemporary issues as if it were written yesterday.

Unfortunately, in the meme-driven world of social media, it has become commonplace to paraphrase and/or wrongly attribute quotations online. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! While I acknowledge that paraphrasing can be a useful way to introduce difficult concepts, I think it matters very much who said what, and in what manner and context it was said. One of the biggest recipients of what I call “the meme treatment” is Plato.

Yesterday, in trying to determine the genuineness of a quote that appeared in a meme on Facebook, I came across an article called “Five Surprisingly Hip Political Ideas from Plato”. It’s short if you want to read the whole thing, but…

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