Scott DiTullio: Why Do I Teach?

Guest Author Series #1: Why Do I Teach?
Author: Scott DiTullio
Profession: Director of Bands, Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District, PA
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I recently co-wrote an article with Dr. Susan Creasap from Morehead State University, for the NBA Journal. As I’ve reflected more on the subject and have talked to more college students about what I do, I wanted to share some thoughts with you also.

Why do I teach? As I sit and listen to the news every night and hear about all of the violence, I often ask myself the same question. I hope I am making a difference in my students. I want to instill in them, the great opportunities that I had as a student in school. My music teachers were always the ones that went above and beyond their daily duties. They were still in the buildings well after everyone left for the day. I do the same for my students, as most others are out of the building by 3:30, I am always one of the last teachers to leave (5:30 or later). I’m always trying to give my students the extra incentive, the extra push, or the motivation to excel for excellence at all they try to do, not just music.

Second, I’m not a “teacher” to my students. I am a motivator, a counselor, and then finally a teacher. I am the one that will motivate them every day to do more than just ok. I want and encourage them to work to the best of their ability and then some. How do I know when they get there? I can see the intensity in their faces, they come back tomorrow and the next day, and you can see how hard they are working! My family often says to me, “I thought you went to school to become a teacher?” My response is, “I did.” In the world of music, we get to know our students more than any other teacher in the district. We eat many meals together and travel to many events. In that time, I can tell you that I’ve eaten more meals with some of my students than they have with their own parents. They come to us for advice on many subjects, from school, to their relationships, to family concerns. We become a surrogate parent, as they seek advice, we try to steer them towards a sound solution to their problems in a caring way. I’ve had several students come back to me over the years and say thank-you for your talks. You always seem to know what to say or make us look at things differently. Once we get through motivating and counseling, we finally get to teaching.

The more I talk to college students and ask what they think the life of a Band Director is like, I’m in shock. They all believe that they will walk into a perfect job and not have to do anything more that the usual work day. When I start to describe my experiences, they look at me and say why do you do that. As I’ve stated above, teaching has been an awesome experience for me. I love going to work everyday! I love working with kids and having them being excited about music! My goal is not to produce music educators, but to produce students that show an appreciation and respect for everything they do in life. When I finally get a parent telling me that I’m still playing my flute after being out of school for fifteen years, I have been even more successful. Better yet, when they tell me they are stating to play again because their child is playing! We instill a love in the students we work with, even on those bad days when we want to bang our heads off the wall.

I had a conversation with a college student a few weeks ago that was really alarming to me. He said his father was applying for a new job, because he was tired of fighting for the program. I’ve been there I know what this is about, but we all have to be advocates of music programs! Not just our own programs, but everywhere. We as educators need to help inform our communities of what is happening. Being active in the community helps, but just playing at Friday night football games is not the answer, or better yet, worrying about only the competitions that we are participating in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, publish articles about your program in the newspapers, or create a web-page. The more people know about the program, the more they will support the program. We all know that it is better to be Proactive than Reactive. To me the Proactive approach makes every program successful.

A great article for everyone to read is Dr. Stanley F. Michalski’s “Reach For The Top” (www.keynotesmagazine.com), we need to Publicize the program and communicate with administrators, teachers, and the community. Sure, most communities only see your marching band, but we can make sure they see our entire program. For you your program to be successful, make sure you are out and promoting the program. Educate your community and music can help your community become of the top best communities in education.

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About Scott DiTullio:

Scott DiTullio holds a B.S. in Education (Music Education) from Clarion University and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He has also completed the K-12 Administration Program for Principals through California University of Pennsylvania. Scott is the Director of Bands at the Allegheny-Clarion Valley Area School District. At Allegheny-Clarion Valley his duties consist of General Music, Jr. High Band, Sr. High Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Jr. High Honor’s Band, the Falcon Brass Quintet, and Pep Band. He taught for nine years at the Clarion-Limestone School District where he served as the Director of Bands for grades four through twelve.

 Scott DiTullio performs on trumpet in professional venues from Pittsburgh to Erie and as a soloist with many jazz and dance bands. He is a member of The Corner Brass, a brass quintet in Clarion County, the Clarion University Jazz Band (lead trumpet and section leader), performs as a local soloist in many churches, teaches private trumpet lessons, and serves as the district chairman for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 3 Jazz Festival. He also serves as an ESS Clinician for the music education software programs Smart Music and Finale.

[tags] scott ditullio, teaching, music, band director, band, teaching music [/tags]

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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