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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Free Android Apps for Band Directors


I’ve recently entered the world of the smart phone with the purchase of my HTC EVO 4G. It is truly incredible what these devices can do and I plan to use it to the full as best I can. In looking for applications to help in music education, I’ve noticed a real lack in organized information on the subject. It is my intent to post a useful, running list of Android resources to be updated often. . . . → Read More: Free Android Apps for Band Directors

American Band College


It’s been an action packed 7 weeks since my last blog post. 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 – a part of Sam Houston State University. I’ve not been meaning to neglect this blog. I have literally had no time. . . . → Read More: American Band College

Life Lesson #12: The Love of Music


There are certainly powerful reasons music becomes such an important part of a music student’s life. It is a discipline that connects to their core. It connects to their feelings. It gives them creative power. It allows them to share intimately without having to talk or “open up” in a traditional manner. It is a challenge. It is fun. And these are also the reasons we teach music. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #12: The Love of Music

Life Lesson #11: Connecting Emotion


The craft of music is generally taught prior to the art of music. Students begin their studies at an age where an appreciation for music’s humanity has not yet been developed. (Some never achieve this). It is our duty as educators to assist student musicians in connecting their personal expression and emotions to what may be to them simply a physical and mental exercise. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #11: Connecting Emotion

Life Lesson #10: Setting Goals


A successful musician must be setting goals all the time. We have goals about the preparation of a particular piece of music for the purpose of performance. We make specific goals to attain certain levels of proficiency on our instrument. We make goals regarding successfully auditioning for honor groups, universities, scholarships, or winning seats into bands, orchestras, or other performance ensembles we desire to join. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #10: Setting Goals

Getting that Heavy Metal Sound

Harvey Phillips started in music by bringing his Father’s violin to band class and trying to play along. “In 1942, shortly after we entered World War II, our band’s only Sousaphone player joined the Navy, and my high school band director asked me to play Sousaphone.” Arnold Jacobs spent a good part of his youth progressing from bugle to trumpet to trombone and finally to tuba. . . . → Read More: Getting that Heavy Metal Sound

Life Lesson #9: Leadership

When a student first walks into the band room, training in leadership is underway. The older students (and the director) are modelling behavior through their own actions. This is indirect leadership. This is possibly the most important and powerful form of leadership. We are defined by our actions, rather than our thoughts or even words. And young, nervous 14 year olds walking into a room of well disciplined, well behaved, and kind older students will do all they can to fit in to the mold that has already been set. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #9: Leadership

Teachers Teach – Technology Supports

While there is a general agreement that the effects of technology within the classroom have been beneficial, it is clear that there have been efficacy failings for a variety of reasons. Access to the best and most recent technologies is not available to most teachers. Few teachers or administrators have had a clarifying vision on technology. This should include research into and implementation of technologies that have the greatest impact on student learning. . . . → Read More: Teachers Teach – Technology Supports

California All-State Music Conference

The beginning of that segment of the journey began memorably with a sea of red tail lights putting a sudden harshness to the muted gray tones of rain. Then the semi truck to our right began to fishtail – in and out of our car’s personal space. We saw the trailer of the semi truck behind us pulling to the left as the cab got ever closer to our back bumper. Thankfully, that’s the end of the exciting story. . . . → Read More: California All-State Music Conference

Life Lesson #8: Self-Confidence

Arguably the most difficult time in anyone’s life is that period of adolescence happening in the middle school and high school years. With puberty comes several physical and chemical changes leading to a general switch in demeanor, emotionalism, heightened social dramas, and often crippling fear and/or anxiety as to real or imagined perceptions of onesself by one’s peers. Meanwhile, expectations to stand out from the crowd academically in a time of quickly rising global competitiveness are placed on these children by parents, teachers, and themselves. . . . → Read More: Life Lesson #8: Self-Confidence