Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned. ~ Emily Dickinson

Mr. Ahrens teaches band & choir at Bear River High School in Grass Valley, CA.


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American Band College

Where have I been?!

It’s been an action packed 7 weeks since my last blog post. I’ve been swamped with the end of a rather blockbuster school year of performances, my own performances outside of school, preparation for and now participation in the American Band College masters program in Ashland, Oregon.  I’ve not been meaning to neglect this blog. I have literally had no time.


I’m am gathering some AMAZING nuggets at ABC that I plan on spinning into a number of juicy music education blogs. I am studying & rehearsing under such folks as:

  • Michael Levine (trombone – Dallas Brass)
  • Nick Petrella (percussion – Sabian, Univ. Missouri)
  • Kathy Daniel (flute – Sam Houston)
  • Dale Underwood (saxophone – US Navy Band, everywhere)
  • Frank Ticheli (composition – USC)
  • Peter Boonshaft (conducting – Hoffstra University)
  • Andrew Hitz (tuba – Boston Brass, George Mason)
  • Boston Brass (small ensemble)
  • Arnald Gabriel (conducting – US Air Force Band)
  • Randy Adams (trumpet – Sam Houston)
  • Jeff Bianchi (horn)
  • Louie Hall (oboe – Univ. of Maine)
  • Jim Lotz (bassoon – Tennessee Tech)
  • Matt Savage (percussion – North Carolina)
  • Robert Spring (clarinet – Arizona State Univ.)
  • Tim Lautzenheizer (band administration – Conn-Selmer, Ball State Univ.)
  • Frank Tracz (band administration – Kansas State Univ.)
  • Robert W. Smith (composition – Troy Univ.)
  • Al & Gladys Wright (Perdue Univ Ret.).

Sound good?

If the American Band College’s 3 Summer masters degree program in the beautiful hills of Southern Oregon sounds good to you, check out the website:

Posts to follow…

  • Tom Gard

    As a 2010 graduate of ABC, I highly recommend this Masters Degree program to ANY band teacher, regardless of what age you teach or what part of the world you hail from.  Although the degree is billed as a Masters in Conducting, the primary benefit is in pedagogy (both instrumental and rehearsal methods).  You will work with phenomenal conductors as well, and you will learn a lot regarding the art of conducting; but the biggest benefit is being more knowledgeable about everything going on from the podium.

    We premiered a piece by Johan De Meij last year, and I was fortunate not only to rehearse and conduct the piece with my colleagues but then to hang out with Mr. De Meij during the process.  These are the kinds of experiences that take place every single year at ABC.

    Finally, the research projects that make up the “academia” of the program are incredible.  While any school can make you sit in a library and research some element of music or band literature, ABC forces you to create projects that are tailored to your weaknesses.  We record ourselves conducting and have to watch it.  We learn our bassoon fingerings!  We discover more about ourselves through this program and through the work of our annually rotating faculty (another advantage, which allowed me to work with De Meij, Robert W. Smith, Jan Van Der Roost, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, and so many more of the most relevant names in our profession) than any other program that gives you the same instructors year after year.

    It is easy to gush about a program like this, but it is the sole reason I defeated burnout as a young teacher (I just completed my 10th year this past school year of public school teaching).  I was going down a really discouraging path until ABC, and it reawakened a passion and a fire I badly needed.  And hey, you get to work with peers from all over the country.  It’s a great way to network and learn about music education from everywhere (international, too!) in the event that you’re ever looking for another gig elsewhere.  Best wishes to you, David!