News to share and more on the way

Hi all,

What a great week last week! The students did a wonderful job at the concert and I am truly happy with their performances. Thanks to all the parents and family and friends who attended!

Here’s the news:

1) Dave and Buster’s Fundraiser! – We are in our first week of the fundraiser with one more week next week. All forms are due on March 30th (don’t forget to detach the bottom part and you keep the top part). You may pay with cash or check. If you write a check, please make it out to “Discovery Middle School” and write “Band Fundraiser” in the Memo section. Please put the form and money in an envelope with the student’s last name on the envelope. If possible, please do not turn in the forms and money early. March 30th is the day and it’s not over ’til it’s over!

The Power Cards will not be available until after spring break. If you have any questions, please contact Lori Milleville 734-658-1457 (call/text) or email
Since this is a new fundraiser you may have questions for us and attached is the flyer for your information and/or for your customers. Thank you for your consideration with participating in this fundraiser! Dave and Buster’s Tip: Wednesdays are half-price game days from open to close!  Dave and Busters flyer 2015

Besides the need to raise funds for more music, instrument repairs, and to bring in the composer of the commissioned work to work with our students, this fundraiser will also help to supplement a budget for the fall of next year. I am worried that with an influx of students who have never been a part of our band community and it’s traditions, that the cookie dough sales next year may take a hit. A good showing with this Dave and Buster’s fundraiser can insure that the new students of next year are able to enjoy all that we do here at the Discovery Band as they are learning about this new school and its band without worrying about our finances. Your help is greatly appreciated.

2) Smart Device on tomorrow/Friday – All students are invited to bring a smart device to our band class on Friday for tutorials on video assignments for class via Google Classroom. Students will keep the devices powered off in their lockers until I release them during class to retrieve the devices and we will not power them on until class has begun.

Bringing a device is not required and any device brought to school must be done so with parent permission. The smart devices must be able to capture video and be able to connect to the internet. We will work on tutorials on Friday, work on this assignment over the weekend, and troubleshoot on Monday. The goal is to make sure all students can upload their video assignment to Google Classroom. For any students without access to a smart device or internet access, I will share with them how we will still be able to accomplish our goals as individuals and as a class……a good “plan B.” This tutorial will be helpful as the students will have a video project over the weekend. No worries, I’ll make it very easy, as the goal is to make sure we can upload the videos to Classroom. Content and quality of the assignment will begin on the second assignment.

3) 8th Grade Band – The 8th graders performed last Friday and were recognized for their outstanding musical achievement by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA), a state organization which is dedicated to the support and advancement of music education through adjudicated performance opportunities since 1938.

The Discovery 8th Grade Band had to prepare for this adjudicated performance of their three prepared pieces (which improved a LOT from the Tuesday concert, followed by a sight-reading performance in which students are given a piece of music by MSBOA that the students have never seen before, are given five minutes to study without playing, and then perform the piece from beginning to end while being evaluated by a judge. Bands and orchestras are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest rating possible. The overall score is computed using a formula, which combines the ratings of four judges.

The Discovery 8th Grade Band received straight 1’s from all the judges, and the commentary from the judges was quite positive. “All pieces were played very musically with intelligent decision-making….really a fine performance in all aspects of music-making”, said Jim Barry, one of the adjudicators for MSBOA in his recorded commentary. He continued, “You should be very proud of your performance today.”

I was beaming with pride after the performance. They now know what they can achieve when the pressure is on and time is not your friend.”

This year, there were 155 school ensembles participating in the MSBOA Band Festival representing southeast Michigan in District 12 (the largest district in the state), which Plymouth-Canton Community Schools is a member of this organization. Many sites for performing were running concurrently over two weekends. Out of the 49 participating middle school groups, only seven middle school bands, or 14%, received straight superior ratings from all four judges. The Discovery 8th Grade Band is honored and humbled to be in this select company and I am happy that the students’ detailed work was recognized with distinction.

If you are interested in hearing the performance or the judge’s comments, please let me know.

MANY thanks to our chaperones for making this opportunity happen for our students!

4) Washington DC Trip – As the trip is getting closer, please make sure you are up-to-date on payments and if there is any problem with the timeline please contact Bob Rogers Travel to let them know you need alternative arrangements (if possible). BRT sent me a list of seven names who are behind on payments or who have never paid and we will need to make a decision on this shortly. Feel free to contact me if you wish.

Also, the students will need to purchase a band polo shirt which will be part of the uniform and will also need to purchase a few other shirts currently being designed so that we may be uniform throughout much of the trip. More info will arrive shortly about how to order these shirts.

Final recap: There are more achievement opportunities ahead for the students of the Discovery Bands. Students from all grades from the Discovery Bands will be traveling to Washington, DC to perform in our nation’s capital in early May. Also, the Discovery Band is commissioning a piece of music that is being specifically composed for the band students. The composer, Robert W. Smith, will be visiting Discovery Middle School and will be conducting the premiere of this new work in late May, and the students and Mr. Whitlock are very excited about these upcoming events.

Thanks so much and I’ll send more info and news soon!

Musically yours,
Mr. Whitlock

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