Interview with new band teacher Elizabeth Janssen
How did you get into the band and music field?
Janssen: “I started piano lessons in second grade, loved it, started band in fifth grade, loved it, and the rest is history, basically. My high school band director was really cool, loved him, he was awesome, so I basically wanted to be like him when I grew up. There was no other job that I thought looked like fun.”
How long have you been teaching band?
Janssen: “This is my third year teaching band. I did two years in Ellsworth, 30 miles west of Salina, prior to moving here.”
What was your main goal as a first year teacher?
Janssen: “In my first year, three years ago, it was my goal to survive and not get totally drowned by first year teaching.
What is your overall goal for the band this year?
Janssen: “My goal is to have a band full of independent musicians that are completely self-sufficient in terms of reading music and rhythms and also just to have a blast.”
How easy was it to adjust, having student taught at Rock Creek before?
Janssen: “It’s actually really nice because most of you are kind of familiar to me. It’s also kind of hard because I know student teaching, I probably just was a terrible teacher because I was just learning how, and so, hopefully, I am coming back better than I was before.”
How has the band improved since the beginning of the year?
Janssen: “The first day of marching band camp was a little rough in terms of just everybody knowing what to do and just getting used to each other and me getting used to you all and you getting used to me, and by the end of our marching season, which just got over, we improved by leaps and bounds. Like, we got ‘Excellents’ at both of our two marching contests. I was seeing feet moving together and starting and stopping together, and just the fundamentals, they just improved, I don’t know, by a ton. It just made me so happy, that we improved, and I saw continuous improvement from day one to now.”
What is your secret to motivating band kids to practice every other day, even out in the cold?
Janssen: “I try to be the leader that sets the example and not the boss that tells them what to do, so if I expect you all to be moving and hustling to your spots, then I want you to see me moving and hustling to my spot. Basically, I try to just lead by example, and the rest will follow.”
Are you planning anything new for the band this year?
Janssen: “Probably nothing groundbreaking. In a transition year, it’s always best to kind of keep it the same, so just to make the transition easier so we can kind of adjust to each other. Over the next several years, maybe I’ll start making small changes, and eventually they’ll turn into what I want it to be. We’re really close right now. Honestly, [former band director] Mr. [Nate] Craft did a great job setting all you guys up for success, and I want to jump on that, tighten some nuts and bolts here and there and keep on going.”
What are your expectations for next year’s band compared to this year’s band?
Janssen: “Just constant improvement. I just want to see us get better. I want to see us start better than we started this year and do better, if that makes sense.”
Interview by staff member Mac Hayes
Photo courtesy of Interstate Studios