Karen Crocco, DMA
Band Director, Northport K-8
Mentoring Committee Chairperson, FBA

Santa isn’t the only one who is making a list and checking it twice. This is also a very good practice for band directors. Admittedly, I am a “lists person.” Making lists and organizing thoughts on paper or on screen helps me to clarify my thoughts, reflect on my successes and failures, and to visualize the activities and challenges that are immediately in front of me and what is a little further in the future.

As you wrap up your first semester it is important for your personal and professional health to reflect on where you and your program have been, what lies immediately in front of you when you return, and what goals, activities, and events are in the next semester. I have found that making a few lists and doing at least a little planning before I leave on break helps me to take a real vacation from my job. If I can’t do this planning before I leave, because concerts or other job-related demands keep me busy up to the bell, I spend some time planning as soon as I can during my time off. Again, getting my job “off my brain” helps me to relax and enjoy family and friends during the holidays.

The point of making lists before you leave on break is to give you peace of mind regarding work, so you can let it go for a few weeks. Your lists do not need to be lengthy or exhaustive, just enough to feel comfortable knowing that you are ready to get started when you get back. For me, I have found that an easy way to make my semester break list is to print out the band calendar and to simply write the words, keep, toss, or tweak next to past events. If something is a keep or a toss, I pretty much leave it alone. If something falls into the “tweak” category, I just write a few notes on the back of the calendar about what went wrong or what I would like to fix. Looking forward takes a little more effort to get it off my brain, but I still find that using the band calendar is a good place to start. I use the calendar as an outline and just write bullet points under each event and rough dates for what needs to be done, who I will need to ask for help, and when. Rehearsals and performances are already on the calendar, so I am just tending to logistics that I need to tend to for those events or activities to happen successfully. Be forewarned, this can sometimes be overwhelming, but I have found that knowing what I have ahead of me and that I’ve done some of the preparation just by making these lists, I am not haunted by my job over the holidays.

If this is your first or thirtieth year teaching, you deserve to have a relaxing break from your job and joyous Holidays with family and friends. This list exercise is a tool that supports professional success and protects your personal time. No matter what you find works for you, it is important to do whatever you need to do to assure some quality time for yourself and some real time off during the break. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season and Peace in the New Year.