Showing posts from February, 2008

Closed for Wednesday

Closed Wednesday. BizTown is Thursday, so 5th grade brasses will not meet this week. Percussionists (who were missed last week due to snow) will have class on Friday. 8 rehearsals remain before our March 11 concert.

Challenge Results

Paytie def. Christian
Paige def. Jessica
Katie def. Cassie

Emma def. Samantha

No other changes at this time. Thanks to all who participated.

"Once" Wins Oscar - You Get A Free Song

Once, my favorite film of 2007 earned an Oscar for best original song last night. "Falling Slowly," written and performed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova took the prize, much to the approval of the othewise reserved crowd. You can download the award-winning song from the official site for FREE in mp3 format. The entire soundtrack is great, but you should at least reap this benefit and sample the music from this amazing movie. You can see their Oscar acceptance speeches here.

Thanks, Band & Choir Students - Great Rehearsal Today

I could not have been more pleased with the quality of rehearsals we had today. Thank you for responding to my fast-paced technique today, and keeping taking to a minimum. I know I really didn't give you a lot of time to talk today, and that was part of my plan, but I came out of JHCB, choir, and FHSCB rehearsals with a feeling of satisfaction and the relief that I'm pretty sure we CAN pull off this concert in the amount of rehearsals remaining. Remember that in the long run, however, the amount that you improve in the next few weeks, equals the amount we improve (individual improvement = group improvement). Keep up the great work. Let's have another good one tomorrow. :-)

Quote for Today: How Can You Lose?

"Winning starts with a complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness, and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose?
-Jesse Owens

FMB Rookie Sign Ups

New members to the FMB for the 2008 season (who are currently 8th graders or FHSCB members) need to sign up on Mr. Keller's door. 7th graders will receive invites on Friday of this week. Squad leaders will also be announced later this week as well.

It appears as of now that all musicians from the 2007 FMB are returning. That's great news! The level of musicianship will be incredible with this group, and it will be a requirement to bring this year's show to life.

School Cancelled Friday

No school today. The clock still ticks down to our March 11 concert, though. Be prepared for a tough week of rehearsal next week. But in the meantime, enjoy your day. That's all we can do :-)

Scheduling Letter 2008

8th graders and underclassmen will be scheduling classes for next year in the upcoming weeks. Here is my handy-dandy guide to what class you should register for, ideas for your four-plan, and what to do if you run into problems scheduling what you want. Please contact me if you have any questions. Click the image to enlarge (420k).

Conferences Tonight

Once again, I will be available for walk-in conferences tonight from 3:30-6:30 PM in my office. Parents of any high school or middle school music, choir, or band student is welcome to visit and get an update on your student's progress. I will only be attending middle school group conferences if specifically requested so can be available for all of my students in grades 5-12. If you need information, but cannot drop by and see me tonight, just drop me an email and let me know what you need.

Do You Still Owe For Band Camp?

If you still owe money for band camp LAST year...please pay it, NOW. Please contact the booster treasurer to arrange payment. Payment this late is not acceptable, so do it NOW.

Challenges Now Friday

Since we've had so little school since last week, challenges for fhscb and jhcb will now be on Friday. Please be prepared to play your best. This is the final challenge before our March 11 concert.

Conducting Clinic Reminder

Just a reminder to my conducting clinic participants that we will meet at 7:30 Wednesday morning. If perchance we are on a two-hour delay, we will meet at 9:30 instead.

Format War Over; Photoshopped to My Liking

Just in case you haven't heard, that whole HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray battle is over. HD-DVD is dead and Blu-Ray is the victor. This means one of three things: 1. If you've been waiting to upgrade to a high-definition DVD format until the squabble between the two formats, you can now buy Blu-Ray with confidence. 2. If you already succumbed to the lure of HD-DVD, you are now traveling down a trail of quickly-approaching obsolescence. OR 3. You could care less and standard definition DVD is fine with you. Either way:

This post from Engadget also wins my award for best Photoshop of the day, employing archaic techniques, but using a frame grab from The Holy Grail.

Tuesday: Closed Due To Ice

Yeah...closed today due to ice. You and I have no control whatsoever over this so we might as well hang out and enjoy the day. All fifth grade winds will have band on Wednesday. JHCB/FHSCB challenges will now be Friday. See you tomorrow!

Vic Firth Branches Out (Spicy Post)

I've been a big fan of Vic Firth drum sticks for the majority of my teaching career. Not only was the brand founded and sticks designed by the legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionist, Mr. Everett "Vic" Firth, but the product is consistent and reliable. Therefore, I was kind of shocked when I sat down to dinner at my parents' house this weekend and saw the unmistakable Vic Firth logo on the salt and pepper mills in the middle of the dining room table. Just to prove that quality craftsmanship is multi-faceted, the Vic Firth company has been using those drumstick lathes to fashion top-notch salt and pepper grinders. Who knew?

You can check out the products, which come in both natural wood or painted finishes, at My Mom and Dad opted for the Mario Orange (no relation to the video game character of the same name).

Quote for the Long Weekend: Kindness

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
-The Dalai Lama (1935 - )

Next Year's Schedule Change

I was notified today that the high school will be moving from an eight-period day to a seven-period day next school year. This change was necessary to conform to the Ohio CORE curriculum, a state mandate that changes graduation requirements and curricular offerings. At the heart of the issue is that laboratory classes must have at least 50 minutes of contact time each day. What effect this will have on the music department appears minimal at this time.

The biggest plus of this change is that rehearsals will now be 52 mintues long. Things will be MUCH less frantic than they have been in our 42-minute days of the past few years. We will be able to perform an expanded repertoire for each concert, and will be able to attempt more difficult pieces since we will have 50 additional minutes of rehearsal each week. That means we will have what equals one additional rehearsal each week next year than we did this year. This is phenomenal news. We will have more time to build fundamentals …

Challenges Wednesday 2/20

Challenges for FHSCB and JHCB will be on Wednesday, February 20.

JHCB - Sparks, m. 59-end
Matt v. Kayla
Paytie v. Christian
Ciara v. Zach
Paige v. Jessica
Ryan v. Colin
Samantha v. Katie
Katie v. Cassie
Megan v. Anna
Kevin v. John
Chris v. Zach
Caitlan v. Samantha

FHSCB - Not Afraid To Dream m. 132-end
Emma v. Samantha
Jimmy v. Josh

Conferences Tonight

I will be available to meet with parents tonight in my office from 3
to 6:30.

New Blog Widget: Articles of Interest

I have a new widget in the right-hand column of my blog. "Articles of Interest" shares pertinent articles I have found in my daily reading. It's really easy for me (one click and it's there) and hopefully interesting and informative to you. They're not always music-oriented, but it will always be stuff I think is worth sharing. Be sure to scroll down on each visit to see what articles I've shared.

5th Band Thursday (Percussion; Forgetters)

Today was pretty messed up with 5th band. It SHOULD have been clarinets, saxes, trumpets, and trombones. Those who DID remember their instruments did have class today. (Thanks for remembering :-) Since so many students forgot their instruments today, those who forgot instruments Wednesday will have class on Thursday with the percussionists. Parents: please help your forgetful students to remember their instruments on Thursday. Thanks :-)

Also, if you have not seen a progress report from your child, please contact me. Also, feel free to stop by my office during conferences on Thursday 3-6:30.

Quote of the Day: Punctuality

"The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it."
- Franklin P. Jones

Booster Meeting Cancelled (Now Next Week)

Due to schedule conflicts and illness, tonight's booster meeting is canceled and has been rescheduled for Wednesday, February 20 at 6 PM in the band room. See you there!

Conducting Clinic Wednesday (Updated)

If there is a two hour delay on Wednesday, then the weekly conducting clinic will be held at 9:30 in the band room. I haven't heard about any delays yet, but I'm just trying to plan ahead just in case.

UPDATE: Okay...I HAVE heard. 2 hour delay for Wednesday. We'll meet at 9:30 if you want to. I'll be there. Bring your arms.

Snow Day! (Updated)

I'd have posted earlier that we don't have school today due to snow, but honestly, I just woke up. I figured you probably found out via Instant Alert. Hope your snow day is fun and relaxing :-)

UPDATE: The Boys' basketball tournament game for tonight has been cancelled and rescheduled for Thursday at 6:15 at Newark High School. Just FYI.

Clarinet Day at Otterbein - April 5

Clarinet day at Otterbein is on April 5 and will feature the Prestige Clarinet Quartet, as well as masterclasses, recitals, and participation in clarinet choir. For more information, contact Dr. Anthony Costa at The cost is $15, and registration forms are available from Mr. Keller. This is open to all high school clarinetists.

Conferences Thursday

Just a reminder to parents of middle school music students that I will
be in my office on Friday from 3 to 6:30 pm for conferences. Since I
have students in all grades, I will not attend group conferences
unless specifically requested. My door is open, however, for anyone
who wants to drop in for an update on their child's progress in band
or general music.Benjamin J. Keller
Sent from my iPod

Pep Band Tshirts Up For Sale

I have the following pep band shirts up for sale: 5 small, 5 medium, 2 large, 1 extra large. If you are a member of pep band and haven't bought your shirt yet, do it soon or it will belong to someone else. If you are not in pep band and want to buy a shirt, please contact me. They are $10 cash or check payable to "Fairbanks Band." First come, first served.

Quote for Today: Chances

"Our lives improve only when we take chances - and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves."
-Walter Anderson

Bad and Worse

Disclaimer: This post applies to a very few members of the FHSCB, but is being published publicly to draw important attention to an issue that affects the performance quality of the entire group.

Bad: Using your cell phone to text during school hours. Your phone will be confiscated and sent to the office for a parent to pick up.

Worse: Using your cell phone to text DURING REHEARSAL. Your phone will be confiscated and sent to the office and you will be reprimanded with a conduct offense in my class which begins with an official warning then deducts 5 points from your grade for each subsequent offense.

Please pay attention during rehearsal even if you are not the group being rehearsed, as the content may affect you as well. If you need a reminder list of things that it's okay to do during rehearsal when you're not playing, read this post.'s selfish and hurts the group. Please let this NOT be a problem for the remainder of the year. You know who you are.

Library Is Up And Running Again

A strange thing happened on Wednesday of last week. My entire Delicious Library database just up and disappeared from my hard drive. It was so strange...nothing else was affected, but every library user and every recording disappeared like they were never entered. If you have had a similar experience with this otherwise wonderful program and would like to either share your common experience or, even better, explain to me what the heck happened, please feel free to contact me via comment or email. Things were backed up, so it was no huge deal, just very inconvenient.

What this means to my FHS students is that the library is up and running again. If you had recordings due Thursday, Friday, or today, you have been extended a one-week reprieve. Please return your CD's as close to the due date as possible. Fines will not be charged until the end of this week. Thanks for bearing with me through this difficult time :-)

Don't Call...Email.

I'm at school and my cell phone battery is dead (and I don't have a charger), so if you usually get ahold of me in that manner, please email me instead at The week is off to a very strange start...

Senior Night Pics Are Posted

Pep band pictures from this Friday's Senior night have been posted on the official picture page. Thanks to all of the pep band seniors for their contribution this year as musicians and leaders.

Two Hour Delay for Monday

Two hour delay for Monday due to high winds and low temperatures. Enjoy your extra sleep but come extra prepared for rehearsal :-)

Wind chill may still be 20 below in the morning. Please wear a coat...and not shorts and flip flops.

Pep Band Saturday

The final pep band game is this Saturday and it is Senior Night! The
call is 6:00 pm and rehearsal begins at 6:15. Be sure to wear your pep
band t-shirt. If you haven't paid for your shirt, remember to bring
your $10 with you to the game... And don't forget your Panther spirit!

I'm Out On Friday

Just a note to let you all know that I will not be at school tomorrow,
February 8. I will be attending the annual Ohio Music Educators
Association conference in Cincinnati. I expect that students in all my
classes be on their best behavior for the sub. If anyone needs to
reach me during the day, I will still be in contact with my email and
you can reach me at my cell in an emergency.

Parents: 5/6 Progress Reports; Conferences

Mid-year progress reports will come home with all fifth and sixth grade band members this week. Please share with your student the positive comments as well as the recommendations. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about your child's progress in the Fairbanks band program. The best way to get in touch with me at at, or call my school phone at extension 1306.

I will also be available for conferences after school on February 14 and 21. As I teach grades 5-12, I will not join group conferences unless specifically requested, but I will be in my office from 3-6:30 each of these nights and my door will be open. Please feel free to stop in and say "hi" and check on your child's progress.

Save The Date - June 22

The Summer Music Games take two trips though the buckeye state this summer, but two of the three shows (Centerville July 29 and Crew Stadium July 30) are while the FMB is at camp. That means that June 22 is the big opportunity for you all to see a DCI show. The bonus is that this contest at Dublin Coffman high school is the only Ohio show to feature the Glassmen, with whom FMB member Jacob Williams is performing. The official web site for the event is not up yet, but there is a list of performing corps (see the pic). It looks to be a good show, even though it is early in the season. DCI finals are in Indianapolis the week of August 6, which is the week after FMB camp. I'm going to try and get tickets for myself as soon as they are available, and would encourage you to do the same, since Indianapolis is almost in our back yard, and that it will be one of the first-ever events in the new Lucas Oil Stadium.

Where Do The Candidates Stand On Educational Issues

So, how do this year's presidential candidates stack up on issues that affect our schools and our students? Here's a handy-dandy chart that compares the Democratic and Republican candidates on issues such as health care for our kids, school vouchers, merit pay for teachers, NLCB, school funding, and others issues. Take from it what you wish. This is in no way an endorsement for any candidate, but I feel it is important that everyone know what the "potential presidents" feel about issues that affect our children.


...The Miami University Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band will perform their concert at 8 p.m. on March 5 at Hall Auditorium in Oxford, Ohio. Mr. Stauffer will be conducting Toccata Marziale, another standard from Ralph Vaughan Williams. Nikki Stefanko and Rachel Harney will also be performing in the groups. Come out and support your FMB band camp staff!
(Thanks to Stauffer for this timely submission)

Great Concert at Capital University

On February 10, the Capital University Wind Symphony and Symphonic Winds (what's the difference really?) will present a great program of music including Ralph Vaughan Williams's Folk Song Suite for their winter concert. The concert begins at 7:30 in Mees Hall on the campus of Capital University. Admission is free. More information is available by calling 614-236-6630, or at their web site at

General Announcements for Monday

1. Chicago payment #3 is due. You should have $450 in your account.

2. Some Chicago-bound students still owe candy money from the December fundraiser. Please get it in the mailbox ASAP.

3. Pay for your pep band tshirt this week. $10 cash or check payable to Fairbanks Band.

4. Final pep band is Saturday. Seniors get your write ups in to Mrs. Reed ASAP. Report time is tentatively 6 PM.

Pep Band Pics 2/1/08 Posted

Larissa's shirt is cool
Originally uploaded by fhsbando. Pictures from Friday night's pep band have been posted on the picture page. It was a smaller group due to the foul weather, but the Sixth Man still made its presence felt and cheered the Panthers on to a last-second victory! If you haven't bought your pep band t-shirt yet, please get your $10 to Mr. Keller ASAP!

Tonight's Game Is ON

I just talked to Mr. Conley and tonight's game is ON. Arrive before 6PM. Rehearsal is t 6:15. Please bring $10 cash or check payable to Fairbanks Band for your pep band tshirt tonight. I hope you enjoyed your day off. I sure did. Let's cheer the Panthers on to a victory tonight!

Closed Today; Game Status Uncertain

We're closed today due to icy back roads.

Word from the athletic department is that both schools really want this game tonight to go off because if it were canceled, we would have to make it up anyways. Ultimately, it's Lima Perry's call since they have to travel the distance and from the Northwest where there is more snow. I'll let you know as soon as I know. I'm guessing it's probably a GO tonight, but check back later for the definitive word.

Two-Hour Delay

We're on a two hour delay. I'll keep you posted.