Don Stinson is the director of bands at Joliet Central High School in Joliet, Illinois, where he attended as a student. Stinson was recognized as a 2021 Yamaha "40 Under 40" music educator for his innovative efforts to grow the music program at Joliet.

Your Teacher Identity

I had an identity crisis during my first few years of teaching. I had to wade through the stressors of a new job, getting an ensemble ready for a performance within days of school starting, and trying to balance a personal life. I had an idea of who I wanted to be, but I wasn't exactly sure of who I was at that particular moment.

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Instrument Repairs, Hacks and Fixes

We’ve all encountered this scenario: The baton is up, the group is ready to play, the downbeat almost hits the air, and then a hand goes up. You respond, “Yes?” A student says, “My instrument isn't working.”  

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Ask for Help and Improve Your Teaching

During my first five years of teaching, I could have benefitted from some real help. Unfortunately, I was petrified to have my high school and college band directors come out to watch my rehearsals.

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Changing Jobs, Part 4: Things No One Tells You About Switching Jobs

People change jobs for various reasons. When the time comes to change jobs, business and stress can take over. As with many new experiences, there isn’t always an owner’s manual for what to do. 

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Changing Jobs, Part 3: Questions to Ask Potential Employers

During an interview, you’ll be asked a battery of questions, but remember that it’s essential for you to ask the interview committee questions, too.

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Changing Jobs, Part 2: Interviewing Tips

Interviewing for a job can be stressful, especially during the early years of your career. Below are some tips taken from my experiences as an interviewee and as an interviewer.

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Changing Jobs, Part 1: Tips to Improve Your Resume

A good resume is the first step in landing a job interview. Below are some tips to improve your chances of standing out in a pile.

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Be a Better Teacher by Being Selfish

The word selfish gets a bad rap. By definition, it’s “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”

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It's OK to Say “No”

Saying “no” may sound easy, but it’s really very complicated. “No” is one of the shortest complete sentences, but it carries significant emotional weight for some people.

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Prioritization: Accentuate the Right Things

I once heard a music professor say, "if everything is accented, nothing is accented." We've all seen a 16-bar phrase of music with every note accented. When we play the ink precisely as it is written, the music sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown — monotonous, boring and predictable.

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5 Time Burglars to Avoid

Time is a precious commodity. As music teachers, we not only have to protect classroom time, but we have to carve out a few minutes (or hours!) here and there to take care of our must-do, non-negotiable tasks.

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Dig Deeper: How to Read Your School Accountability Report Card

One of the most effective actions we can take as music teachers is to seek an understanding of our entire school and community and not just our music program.

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Case Study: Practice Not Required

Yes, you read the title of this article correctly — please proceed with caution because this topic may offend most music teachers.

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