What Parents Should Know

Once your child has been involved in the program for a while, it's pretty easy to catch on.  But this page is designed to give parents who are new to the program a few simple tips on making sure your child is successful, mostly by avoiding the things that could make success difficult.  

Get Involved!

We have a wonderful music program, but we need a lot of help to make it that way.  Please consider becoming active in the program.  Active and enthusiastic parents means active and enthusiastic students. Ways you can help:

  • Be active in our Parent Advocacy Group, Ridgefield Music Matters, which handles an enormous list of our needs (see page for details).
  • Help Pep Band out at football games (e-mail Dawn Auslander to find out about our needs)

Consider Private Lessons

Private lessons can really get the best out of a player and is very motivating for students.  I find that the kids who enjoy the program the most are the ones that study privately outside of school.  They are typically the leaders in our program and blossom in that regard as a result of their musical prowess.  For a private teacher list, visit our resources page.

Self Advocacy is Good for Kids!

I will always want to speak to a student directly first about any issues they may have.  Encourage your child to speak to me before reaching out yourself.  It's a valuable life skill and one they should have down before they leave the nest.  Chances are if your child has an issue and you reach out to me, my response will be to ask your child to make a point to speak with me.  If that doesn't yield a solution, then by all means, let's work it out with the adults.  It's not that I don't want to talk to you!  I have always believed that one of the most valuable things I teach my students is to solve their own problems and to have the courage to speak up and do so.  

Personal Responsibility is Good for Kids!

I generally don't hold hands.  I want all of my students to be successful, but I want them to take responsibility for themselves.  I don't do things like chase kids for missing assignments, and some new parents have a hard time getting used to that.  MusicFirst will tell you when there's a problem because you'll see a zero.  Once the zero is there, it is now your child's responsibility to fix the problem.  For this reason...

Check MusicFirst/the Portal/Assignment Policy/Read my E-mails

All assignments are given at the beginning of the quarter (usually by the end of the first full week of school), and students must manage their time for completion by the deadline.  The due dates are on the portal and also on the calendar.  They will be in my newsletter, and I usually send a courtesy note to all students and parents one week before the due date.  The due dates are posted in my classroom the whole quarter.  I do not accept late assignments because of how much time is allotted for completion and how many reminders I give.  Lateness is therefore always a result of procrastination no matter the circumstance, as life has a way of sometimes throwing up roadblocks at the last minute (getting sick, computer crashes, etc.)  So...don't wait until the last minute!

Students will use MusicFirst software to upload recordings of performance tasks.  All students will receive training on how to use the software.  It can be used at home on any computer with an internal microphone (pretty much all computers younger than 10 years old).  If a student does not have such a computer, the school does.  Chromebooks are able to record student performances, and students can check one out and do assignments during a free period or after school.

The number one pitfall for students who don't do well with their grades is they don't check the portal or MusicFirst and assume everything is alright.  The best thing you can do to help your kids is to be mindful of deadlines and to check MusicFirst.  All parents can access MusicFirst through their child's username and password.  This is where the information is current.  The portal does not have the capability of opening up sound files, therefore I only use it to transfer finalized grades over.  This takes time, so checking MusicFirst


 If you see a zero, it is because the work was missing.  There is a revision date of 1 week after the grade posts where students still have a window to revise work if they were unhappy with their grade and give it another crack, but the grade will be reduced by 20 points if a first draft wasn't submitted by the due date.  

When to E-Mail vs. Call

  • E-mail me with questions about minutia or requesting information.
  • Call me if you have a problem with something I have or haven't done (or e-mail me requesting a phone conference).  E-mail escalates.  We've all been there.  I'm a good guy, and chances are you're not so bad yourself.  Let's have a conversation like human beings rather than unloading on each other.    

Reach out to me at ANYTIME!

Really...please don't ever feel like you're bothering me with anything.  I'm here for you and your kids!  I check e-mail very frequently, and check my ridgefieldps.net account most frequently outside of school hours.  It will be hit or miss with a phone call, so even if you want to talk, shoot me a note first so we can set up a time.