Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thrifty Finds of the Week-Girly Edition-Men Beware

This week was my "stay-cation" which is a vacation at your home. While I was busy every day I was doing things that I enjoy, which is what you do on a vacation when you go away. I guess in a lot of ways a stay-cation is a very thrifty approach to a vacation. While today's post is not "professional" in nature, I am thrifty and I am a band director and I am a person that doesn't always work so here are some of my personal thrifty finds of the week. In order to truly understand my level of thriftiness you do need to understand that it goes through my whole life.

First off I was up in Fremont on Wednesday visiting my good friend Chris and his wife Tanya. On my way to hanging out I came across this fine establishment. One of my personal fav things to do is to thrift shop and also bargain shop at a variety of stores. It does take a lot of patience and time but the rewards can be great! I had to stop and take a pic.

Thrift Town Thrift Super Store, Fremont


Saturday was the absolute most THRIFTY day of the week for me personally. The entire week was great but Saturday was a "me day". I live thrifty and you are about to see how! I spent the first half of the day with my good friend Rachel who is a representative for Beauti Control Products. We had a great morning of girl time, massages, facials etc. Rachel did a make-up consult with me and it was a lot of fun. In doing the make up consult I discovered that I would be able to switch to Rachel's product from the one that I have been using and I figure I probably am going to save about $100. Now since I am going to host a party I will continue to get deals so this is good!

Make up application begins

A little eyeliner

Eye shadows used on me

Here's the finished product

And here's the products that we used.

You can reach Rachel at

The thing about being thrifty is that its all about networking. So I will be hosting a spa party at my home on Spring Break (April 25-29). I will have spots for 10 ladies at my apartment so if you are interested in coming please let me know. At Rachel's party I also had the pleasure of meeting Christine. Christine is a representative for "Silpada Jewlrey". You can reach Christine at Christine and I are going to be planning a very exciting fundraising event together with her products at STHS in the library in mid-April. We are going to have an open house and the proceeds from the event will benefit a scholarship fund for students who need assistance in raising money to attend our 2012 Band Trip to Hawaii. I hope to host several parties in the future and other events to support sending more of my students on the trip. You gotta get creative sometimes and this is yet another way for me. There are several vendors with other companies that I bet would be willing to do the same kind of just have to network and find them (they probably are in your band program now...)

At Rachel's party I just got plain lucky and won the raffle.

Here's my sweet pedicure set!
Then it was off to do some thrifty shopping. I was looking for a jacket to wear with my nicer outfits (festival attire etc). I saw it in a magazine but it was $100. I was not going to pay that. So I was off. Being thrifty can be a pain because you have to look at several locals. I looked the jacket up online and went to Macy's. No luck. But I did find this wallet for $7. It matches my thrifty band director red look.
It matches my business cards and my business card holders! (Yes that is my conga)
I used my sweet new iPhone to call Burlington Coat Factory and sure enough they stocked the brand of jacket I was looking for. Wow. That place is full of deals and that's going to be an entire day long journey. I had places to go and people to see so I was power shopping. It took me all but 10 minutes to find it in the bargain area (in black yes!). I was shocked. They had only one and it was a small but I have been loosing weight (yes) and low and behold it fit! Here's the jacket....AND IT WAS $40.

London Fog Jacket $40. That is a $60 savings! Thrifty!
While I was at the fine Westgate Mall (which I think has many deals lurking in it but it is kind of a dirt mall) I came across Hancock Fabrics. As you may or may not know my mom is starting a business that I am managing called "Nifty Handbags." When I have time to deal with working on her etsy site I will profile her business on here. But I decided that in order to properly promote her bags I needed a nifty handbag myself to match my "branding" of the thrifty band director (we will talk about "branding" later but I have to learn more about it myself before I can blog about it). I bought all the fabric on sale for a total of $10.71
Thrifty Fabrics for a Thrifty Bag!
I finally made it home and then I was out the door to the Los Gatos HS Crab Feed. It was a five star event and I will be blogging about it tomorrow (video and pics). However, here's what I will share. The event cost me a total of $70 ($50 for the ticket and 20 raffle tickets for $20). I put most of my "eggs" or "raffle tickets" in a basket sponsored by flute section. AND I FREAKING WON! It included a sweet knit hat, an ipod touch, chocolate covered pretzels (my fav), ceramic Starbucks coffee mug, hot cocoa, $20 Starbucks card, and $15 itunes gift card.

Here's me in my sweet new J. Crew outfit, make up by Rachel, & my new basket of goods  
So yeah it was a pretty thrifty day!

What's on the blog for this week?
-Los Gatos HS Crab Feed Fundraising Profile
-Marching Band Budget Planning (it all starts now)
-We Care Coffee
-Midwest Fundraising Proposal Brainstorming
-101 Marketing Ideas Marketing Seminar by Marketing Maniacs!

And Happy Monday everyone! I'm heading back in the classroom after two weeks of being away! The podium awaits me!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sometimes you just gotta drop some cash

So this blog is a little bit more personal but since being thrifty for me a state of mind I do really live my personal life the same thrifty way I run my band. I may be two steps away from being a dumpster diving band director but as we all know as music teachers, parents, etc. sometimes you gotta drop the cash.

As some of you know personally I have been having a lot of health problems and they recently figured out that I have this crazy infection. Well I was already loosing weight and then BAM it's just coming off. It's meant that I really don't have clothes that fit and I especially don't have anything to reflect any level of professionalism or class.

Now as a back story for those you that don't know me very personally then you should know this about me. I'm a recovering birkenstock and sock wearing tree hugger. I literally wore tye-died socks and birks my first two years at ST. I still get mistaken for one of my students all the time and last night got carded with the band parents at Happy Hour. I have super classy, well dressed friends (men and women) and just haven't been feeling like I have been walking the walk.

Now we tell folks its not about what you look like on the outside, its on the inside that counts. Yeah right. It is sure. But we all know as performers, educators etc. that when you a see good lookin' band come on stage your going to take a little bit more notice. I have also found that when my students dress up, just a little bit, there's a different sense of pride and professionalism...its why most of us have required concert dress.

My life needed a new dress. Ok my wardrobe needs a serious overall. So...I took the advice of one of the best dressed ladies I know (thanks Jessica Vaughn-Marra, one of the best dressed female band directors I know) and I went to a personal shopping appointment at J. Crew.

Now its where I start to feel dirty as the thrifty band director because I typically spend hours shopping the racks of Marshall's and Ross. Which I do pretty well at and that will not stop being part of regular wardrobe replacement plan. Three weeks ago when I needed new pants I went and spent $50 (had a $25 visa gift card so it actually cost me $25) and I got three pairs of pants and two shirts!

We know that's not happening at J. Crew. I had never been in a J. Crew. It's like this scary place in downtown Los Gatos where rich people hang out. Out of my element completely. But I met Lorene and she was 5 stars and she was my personal shopper. By the way this is free.

She picked out everything and helped me buy pieces that would all be interchangeable. That too I guess is thrifty. It was amazing and empowering and I'm going to be able to rock the conference & concert circuit in the coming weeks.

Then I had to check out. FYI teachers get a 15% discount so that is very thrifty all the time. She was really encouraging me to get a credit card with them. I don't do credit cards with anyone any more. That's not part of my personal get out of debt plan (in case you don't know I'm a huge disciple of Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover....more on that later) but I did it. See the discount was 20% and then I got free alterations (apparently you can actually clothes altered to actually fit...this is a little shocking that I have never done) and then I got a $25 gift card. I also didn't buy everything that I tried on. I wanted to but...I can't afford to so you can have it all. Restraint is hard but necessary.

And then I did something that I am really proud of. Something I never did when I got into debt. I charged it and then I paid most of it off right there on the spot. I went home added the balance to next month's monthly budget (I do have a clothes allowance in my monthly budget) and reminded myself that I would have it paid off in two weeks anyway.

But the same can be said about band products. Sometimes you have to buy the higher quality product to last you long term. Sometimes you have to make an investment, cutting corners in the short term does not always pay off long term and that is part of the considerations you have to make when being thrifty. The most obvious example is cheap instrument purchases but another one is everyone's gripe about Wenger products.

Oh Wenger stuff is so expensive blah blah blah. Well trust me I have the knock off cheap-o band lockers because my district cut corners and after a year and half they already are totally falling apart. But when you pay attention to your budget, monitor cash flow in and out, and make plans to sometimes invest in the things that need just a little extra capitol then the extra investment is worth it in the end (especially if you can find ways to save money other places).

Here's a pics of a few of the outfits I picked up. I have more pants coming :) Now in going and taking the picture and re-looking at the price tags on a few things just now I think I may be heading back there and swamping out a few things. I think I would rather have some of the other pieces I didn't get than the ones I did. But that's also ok because you can always go exchange stuff!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The tired band director

This band director is tired from an AMAZING mega conference. I made it home safely and am enjoying a leisurely evening at home watching a movie I was told I had to see as a young new blogger...."Julie & Julia". It is just what I needed to see for a little blogging inspiration (as if the conference wasn't inspirational enough).

I will be wrapping up the conference and sharing all of the exciting things that are going to come from the thrifty networking at the mega conference. Networking is at the heart of being thrifty.

If we met up at the conference I am hoping that you would consider participating in my thrifty networking by joining the blog or follow me on twitter. Even better join the fun and add a comment. Stop by and be heard! ITS FREE!!!! The more the merrier!

I'm getting ready this week to put together a few conference proposals for the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic next week. I have a few ideas about what I might want to share but am open to suggestions.

So far its either been suggested to me that I consider presenting on or I have been thinking about presenting in the following areas:

-Integrating existing improvisation materials (Abersold books etc) into the band curriculum to fulfill the improvisation national standards.
-Space management/remodeling for the band classroom
-Percussion management/suggestions/strategies etc (naturally on a thrifty budget and FYI if you don't know I'm a percussionist not a sousaphone player).

Suggestions??????? What do you want to see the thrifty band director talk about??? Midwest needs some fun and killer sessions next year.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the conference is amount to commence. Yesterday brought lots of networking opportunities & fabulous clinics/performances. Today you can catch myself and team "special projects" (or as I like to say Tim Harris' entourage) at the general session & the JW Pepper Reading session. I will also be promoting We Care Coffee, Rav Embroidery, San Jose State University, Music Filing Systems & JW Pepper Music.

Here's a few shots from last night's concert with San Jose State University & Eddie Daniels.

San Jose State on stage for sound check

Eddie Daniels & I :)

Happy Conference! And update from yesterday...they (the powers that be) are considering the whole "discount for multiple conference memberships). That would be thrifty!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:M St,Fresno,United States

Friday, February 18, 2011

California All State Music Education Conference

Here we go!!! It's the California music education event of the year. After years of mumbling and grumbling about California having far too many conferences and music education events many of our organizations have come together to form the very first "California All-State Music Education Conference". We've got California Music Educators Association (CMEA), California Band Directors Association (CBDA), California Alliance for Jazz (CAJ), California Orchestra Directors Association (CODA), Western Band Association (WBA) and many others. There are some many organizations I think it would be thrifty if they would allow us to purchase a discount membership. Join 3 groups and get $10 off your registration fee...geez joining all these groups is getting expensive...but at least we are all hear at one mega conference.

I always find interesting that in one of the largest states in the union with beaches and sun and San Francisco where is our mega conference....Fresno. Supposedly they give us a great deal. Which I suppose is good being that I'm the "thrifty band director" but really Fresno? Oh well, we're here to go to a conference anyway. If we sent somewhere else we probably wouldn't even attend anything at the conference anyway.

If you are here at the conference you will be able to find me "in real time" on twitter at!/thriftyband

As I have mentioned I am working at the conference on the "Special Projects Team." My partner in crime is one of my good friends, Mr. Jon Grantham. You will be able to find us today since we will be some of the best dressed band directors at the conferences. You can find our "power team" presiding over Shelly Jagow's sessions.

I will also be in the exhibit hall from 11:20-1pm & 2:00-4:30pm promoting my thriftiness, the San Jose State University Summer Music Camps (including our Summer in the City Camp & The Jim Widner Jazz Camp), as well as promoting two of my favorite fundraising products...We Care Coffee & sweatshirts from Rav Embroidery. So come on by and say hi!

And hopefully today is the day that I can get all of my technology to work together (hoping to begin posting today from the iphone).

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Day in The Life

I figured its about time that I start posting a little bit more about me personally as a band director. Here's the reader's digest version of my life recently. I have been wanting an iPhone for every and recently got the iPhone from Verizon. It has changed my life and brought me a lot of joy. It's also enabling my technology abilities to sky rocket. I took the following pics on my iPhone over the last few days.

I also have been really sick. For a really long time. The short version of this story is that after finding out that my chronic sinus infections, migraines, constantly ailment is not a result of allergies. I'm not really allergic to anything and after having CT scans done yesterday my doctor says "it's bad and we need to meet tomorrow". So tomorrow at 10am we will finally know what the heck is wrong with me and maybe after 13+ years I can finally get well.

Now on to the fun pics. Here's pictures from my life on the job at ST.

This is my beautiful lovely third jazz band. We have three jazz bands. I teach the top jazz band which is during the school day. Jazz Bands 2 & 3 are after school. My good friend Reno Brian teaches Jazz 2 and I teach Jazz 3. This year the group has full instrumentation which is killer and an amazing work ethic and are a joy to teach. This was taken Tuesday when our Jazz Band I trumpets came and played with the Jazz 3 section making a MEGA TRUMPET SECTION. I'm also super proud of the trombones because only one of them is actually a trombone player (the others play baritone, trumpet & tuba) and they are doing an amazing job.

This is Tyler. He is my student aide and member of our band program. He is also about to be one of my great success stories. He went through a bit of a rough patch this year but has really taken a life turn around and is just thriving. He keeps the program running by being a student aide/percussion manager during 2nd period, 4th period student aide, and plays percussion in Symphonic Band. Since I'm thrifty I can't afford a personal assistant or a real secretary but I have students like Tyler who keep the program running and are amazing. This morning Tyler was running two computers at once :) Also notice that he is wearing an Oregon shirt. That's why he rocks.

We'll be talking about some of Tyler's projects that are part of being a thrifty band director at a later time.

And then there are bird whistles. Why are they here? Because we have kids playing bird whistle and that's funny and they are thrifty instruments (99 cents). I can't discuss this at much detail but to say they are part of our Performing Arts Department "Beatles" Concert this year. It's a fundraiser (that's right more on that later) to benefit our entire department (to buy things we all use like microphones & a grand piano cover etc) and will include performances by our percussion ensemble (bird whistles are part of that) and Jazz Band I, Chamber Singers, Ukulele Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Musical Theater, and Advanced Drama.

And here's our percussion ensemble for the Beatles concert. We are performing an arrangement of "Blackbird" arranged by Reno Brian (conductor and arranger). I'm also playing. It's a fun mish mash group of percussionists, a group of marching band percussionists who play wind instruments and some wind players/aspiring percussionists. It was a good time!

So welcome to the Santa Teresa Band room!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thrifty Updates

I will be in Fresno next week for the CALIFORNIA ALL STATE MUSIC EDUCATION CONFERENCE. It's California's first attempt at trying not to have too many music education conferences and to bring California Band Director's Association together with California Music Educator's Association under one beautiful roof at the luxurious (cough cough) Radisson Inn in Downtown Fresno. I'll be working the conference with the Special Projects Crew because that's the thrifty way to attend a conference if you and your district are really too broke to afford to go!

While I'm not working you can find me promoting two of my fav fundraisers that very much have my thrifty stamp of approval. In the days leading up to next week's conference I will be profiling both of these fine companies.

We Care Coffee


RAV Embroidery & Screen Printing

After my frustrating experience with the self-published-composer-who-shall-remain-nameless I had a great interaction today with another "younger" but extremely talented band composer, Steven Bryant. I am planning on playing his fabulous work "Dusk" with my Wind Ensemble at CMEA Band Festival this year. When I got the music I became very confused with the inclusion of string parts & wind parts and thought this might be the orchestra version and it might be something hip and new that I'm not familiar with (like say optional strings). So I emailed the composer because he said to in the score, if I had any questions. He got back to me IN LESS THAN AN HOUR. He remembered me (without prompting) from his time in California a few years back and we chatted back and forth throughout the evening. I'm on a search for some music for my Symphonic Band he made a few suggestions. While it might work programming wise right now, I most certainly will be playing more of STEVEN BRYANT'S MUSIC soon :)

If you happen to be at the fine Texas Music Educator's Convention go track him down and if you are not familiar with his music please take a listen as his music is 5 stars. I am particularly a fan of his work "Ecstatic Waters".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Exciting news from the Thrifty Band Director

Besides more blogs coming (this time with photo and video) I will be setting up a twitter account to make following me easier!

What else is coming....well word on the street is that I might be a monthly guest blogger for a major music distribution company...

Now that is thrifty and very exciting!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Not Thrifty Moment-Dedicated to Publishing Companies & Self Published Composers

I have a small rant to go on....brace yourself....

I buy a lot of music. Its one of the few things in my thrifty band directorness that I'm ok with spending money on. I mean, come on, we are music teachers and our curriculum is the music that we teach students. For me, its the most important thing that I give the students and its the thing that I toil over the most. "What are we going to play for band festival? What cool piece can I find that will interest and challenge the percussion section in Concert Band?

And so I spend a lot of money on music. After all, I have three concert bands and three jazz bands. I also am a huge fan of new music. I am always trying to support young and new composers and put music in my students hand that is new and old. (Old music is the most thrifty because those tried and try classics can be recycled over and over again for good and not evil).

So what happened yesterday? Yesterday the JW Pepper package came in the mail with two pieces of music that I had purchased for my Wind Ensemble. They needed something "fun, hip, and cool". And so I ordered fun, hip, and cool. I ordered two relatively new pieces by two well known and respected young band composers. One is self published and one is with a major publisher (who will get many shout outs later for being *****). They came in the mail. The one by the major publisher was fine.

The one that was self published just about caused me send him a facebook message in disgust. The reason I didn't, I doubt he cares. I doubt he cares that his music IS RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE and shows up in new cover. That's right I open the package to find the score with the parts shoved inside of it. The cover to the score is just made out of flimsy paper and its already starting to tear on the top because the parts really shouldn't be inside this kind of score. And the parts....two sided 8.5 X 11 not taped, not attached (he could have easily done double sided 11 X 17 and then no tape was required) oh yeah and one copy of each part.

So your telling me that ahead and splurged and purchased the piece instead of borrowing it so that I could support a young composer and I get a score and parts that I have to provide a crappy folder to keep the music in and then I photo copy and tape all the parts.

My response THAT IS NOT THRIFTY! You are not helping band directors and I am disappointed in you Composer-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless. I do think you are a great composer but a lot of your music sounds the same and so I doubt I will need to buy anything else of yours for a long time....

And that's my thrifty rant of the day!