KEEP IN TOUCH

Halftime Magazine|January/February 2020

KEEP IN TOUCH
Group management tools help band directors communicate information, share photos, videos, and files, and even manage finances at their fingertips.
FRANK DIMARIA

Band directors spend an inordinate amount of time each week managing communications within their programs. Students, staff, parents, volunteers, and boosters all need to remain in the communication loop. Managing communications, however, can overwhelm even a seasoned director.

“The extra time and energy managing all the components of the program really took a toll on my health,” says Lesley Moffat, director of bands at Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Washington, and author of “I Love My Job but It’s Killing Me: The Teacher’s Guide to Conquering Chronic Stress and Sickness.”

Luckily a plethora of software can help directors get their message across as well as manage other aspects of their programs.

ELIMINATING THE CLUTTER

After trying a variety of communication tools including apps, calendars, websites, and paper documents, Chris Roberts, the assistant corps director of the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets in 2019 and visual caption head for multiple high school marching bands, finally settled on the BAND app.

The BAND mobile group communication tool allows Roberts to integrate calendars, send private messages, and create private chats. BAND users avoid distractions from ads and other social media issues while enjoying privacy on a protected platform.

“When you’re dealing with students, you have to be really careful about who and what has access to them,” Roberts says. Group members can receive the communications within the app or a desktop browser or through text or email.

As director of operations for Hillgrove High School Bands in Powder Springs, Georgia, Lori Sweet also uses BAND, but her base management software is Cut Time, a cloud-based tool that is a service of sheet music provider J.W. Pepper. Sweet keeps everyone in her program on point by sending out a weekly newsletter via Cut Time.

“Our goal is to ensure the details and plans of our busy band program are communicated effectively and [in a] timely [manner], and our families can respond easily when questions arise,” Sweet says.

Moffat, whose band program has 300 students, began using Charms Office Assistant, a Vanco Company, to manage her program 15 years ago. It allows her to eliminate clutter by filtering her emails and her calendar so that relevant information reaches those who need it. Charms also allows her to keep track of fundraising, equipment inventory, attendance, and the music library instead of maintaining a variety of tools like Excel, Quicken, physical notebooks, binders, lesson plan books, and notecards like she did in the past. Now her program’s information is in one place. Moffat says Charms fills all her needs and “has been a game-changer.”

CONTROLLING THE NARRATIVE

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January/February 2020