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Mr. Smith's Blog

...still I can do something...

posted Dec 1, 2013, 4:15 PM by CHS BandDirector   [ updated Dec 1, 2013, 4:18 PM ]

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everthing, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

I hope everyone is returning from a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We've just wrapped up our football season and here we are in December with all of the chaos that comes with the holidays, preparing for the end of the semester, and beginning to put into place all of the plans surrounding our big projects for the year.

To stay on top of everything, please utilize the website and stay in touch if there are any questions or concerns.  Website suggestions are always welcome as we continue to upgrade and try to improve communication.  There are a number of December events that we hope you can be a part of.  Dec. 4th is the town tree lighting, followed by the PTO Craft Fair on Saturday the 7th and then suddenly the combined Winter Concert is upon us on Dec. 12th.  

Whether you've been with the Band for 4 years or you're still getting to know the program, you've probably realized that there is always something going on or being planned for.  Though no one can do everything, we can all take on small pieces to ensure that our students have an outstanding experience.  Our Band's ability to maintain high standards and goals is directly impacted by those students and parents involved with the program.  We are proud to have such support for music in Coventry and as we celebrate the tradition of excellence, we also look forward to building a legacy into the future.  Thank you for being involved with the CHS Band!

Where to begin?

posted Oct 25, 2013, 6:03 AM by Ned Smith

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
    -Lao Tzu

Our journey has begun!  This is such an exciting year for the CHS Band and we are well underway.  We have received the score for our newly commissioned piece "Black Rainbow" by Nathan Daughtrey and it is certainly going to be a fantastic project!  Over the next months we'll begin taking the single steps of breaking down the piece to ensure that we craft an excellent World Premiere currently scheduled for June 6th.

We'll literally be taking steps soon as we begin preparations for the 2014 National Memorial Day Parade.  As our Fall Concert passes, we'll be working through marching technique and beginning to plan musical selections for our D.C. performance this spring.  Thank you to the CHS Music Boosters and those students and parents who have gotten involved in our fundraising campaigns.  Please remember that there is almost always one fundraiser going on that benefits the group as a whole and one fundraiser that goes directly to an individual student's account.  We've been very fortunate to have a lot of support for this once in a lifetime opportunity and we want to make sure that we are able to send our students with limited financial burden - the time to get involved is now!

Please join us for performances on Nov. 1 - the Fall Preview Concert, Nov. 14 - when we host the Charter Oak Music Festival and Dec. 12 - the Combined Winter Concert.  All of these performances promise to be an evening of wonderful music making and we hope you can share it with us!

As always, thank you for your involvement with the CHS Band and we look forward to the journey this year!

Concertos and Commissions

posted Jan 9, 2013, 10:26 AM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:18 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  ~ Winston Churchill

Hello all - and Happy New Year! Some wonderful updates from the Band Room to start 2013:

We are taking the first steps with composer Nathan Daughtrey who has been commission by the CHS Band to write a new piece of concert band music.  We have discussed some of the details of the piece and look forward to the rest of the semester working with him to allow our students a glimpse into the world of composition.

Speaking of the world of composition, I was fortunate to learn of a very important link between the CHS Band and the wider world of music composition.  In doing some historical research about our program, we discovered that composer Warren Benson was commissioned to write a piece of music on the occasion of Carl Salina's death (the first Band Director of Coventry High School).  You can read more about the commission here.  The commission project was lead by Dr. Jeffrey Renshaw of the UConn Wind Ensemble and was premiered by UConn in 1995.  This is wonderful example for our students to see the far-reaching connections music can have.

We are currently making decisions on a Boston Day-trip on March 2.  In just a couple days, we'll have our responses in the see if we'll be travelling to Boston to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra (featuring Lang Lang as soloist on Bartok's 1st Piano Concerto), tour a Boston Music School, and work with the Music Faculty of Boston University.  This is a great opportunity for our students, but without 60 participating students, we will postpone the trip and try to find an opportunity similar to this in future years.

Have you heard about Concerto Cards?!  The Band is selling Concerto Cards which gives you FREE ADMISSION to 4 YEARS worth of concerts, all for $30.  All money goes towards the Nathan Daughtrey commission project which, of course, Concerto Card holders will have front row, FREE seats to the World Premiere of.  The 1st round of sales saw low participation rates from students so now is the prime time to step it into high gear and make sure that we are all doing our part to support these outstanding opportunities to expose our students to the much larger world of music!

as you dream, so shall you become.

posted Nov 24, 2012, 3:18 PM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:18 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” ~ James Allen

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I hope everyone had a wonderful opportunity to relax and visit with family over this short break.  I promised the Band at the beginning of the month that November was going to disappear quickly and here we are staring at December already.  A busy month for everyone preparing for holidays and the Band is no different!

Coming up this Thursday Nov. 29th, we will be joined by a number of CNH 8th Grade Band students at our night rehearsal. Believe it or not, we are already trying to look towards next year and ensure that our younger musicians know the opportunity that awaits joining the CHS Band.  Please take some time to speak with any students or parents you know in the Middle School Band to let them know how you feel about the CHS Band!

Speaking of opportunities, the CHS Band has an unprecendented opportunity looking into the next year and a half.  We are in discussions with composer Nathan Daughtrey ( to commission (compose) a piece, specifically for the CHS Band.  This piece would be a significant contribution to the Concert Band Repertoire and would give our students a wonderfully unique perspective on the world of composition.  From this point forward, the piece would have inscribed on it "Commissioned by the Coventry High School Band." If it were to be published and distributed on a larger scale, this inscription would travel with the piece and put the CHS Band into a new spotlight.  This is a terrific chance for the CHS Band to know that their contribution to the musical world will have a legacy long after students have graduated.  While we're talking about graduated students, I will share that the World Premiere of this piece (which of course is ours to give) would take place at an Alumni Concert next Spring (2014).  We had a goal of holding an alumni event this year, but due to scheduling conflicts, it is best to wait until next year.  The price tag associated with a project of this significance is $5000 - believe it or not a moderate sum for a new composition.  We have a number of wonderful fundraising opportunities that will be coming up shortly to raise the money for this.

We have our Annual Combined Winter Concert with the Choir on Dec. 18th which promises to be wonderful night of music leading up to the Winter Break.  We are also in the process of finalizing a day-trip to Boston for this Spring which would include clinics at Boston University and a concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Again, a wonderful opportunity for a deeply musical experience.  More details to follow - our goal would have been to have these details out earlier, but we had some delays with the Travel Agency, my apologies.

Stay tuned for more news and please keep your ears open for chances to be involved with the CHS Band.  These sound like big dreams sometimes but "as you dream, so shall you become."

I shall use my time.

posted Oct 8, 2012, 5:26 PM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:20 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

I would rather be ashes than dust! 
I would rather that my spark should burn out 
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. 
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. 
The function of man is to live, not to exist. 
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. 
I shall use my time. 
 - Jack London

I shared this quote with the Band at our last rehearsal.  As we've been discussing quite a bit the past couple weeks - the honeymoon is over.  We start the year with intense anticipation, excitement, adrenaline.  And then reality hits - tests, papers, sporting events, family commitments - are there any more directions we could be heading at the same time? There are a number of "things" that constantly distract us from the task at hand.  The world currently seems to point away from uninterrupted focus and instead to over stimulation and a distracted existence.  And yet, I believe that we can truly "live" and not just "exist." Music is the truest testament of this mindset, to truly use ones time to the fullest and dedicate oneself to excellence.  An unending journey indeed, but worth every step nonetheless!

A huge congratulations and thank you goes out to the CHS Band students and parents for a tremendous success in the 300th Anniversary Parade.  The CHS Band won the "Community Pride Award" for the "2000 and Beyond" Division - and we agree that the 70+ members enrolled in Instrumental Music at CHS demonstrates incredible community pride whether it's at a Football Game, Concert, or Parade!

Speaking of concerts - stay tuned (and check with your students!!!) regarding details of the upcoming Fall Concert on Oct. 18th.  We truly cannot wait to share what the Band has accomplished in such a short month and a half.

In the next few months, we will be undertaking a very large project: The "CHS Band Strategic Improvement Plan."  This will serve as a platform for all stakeholders (Parents, students, administrators, music teachers, etc) to share their thoughts regarding the immediate and long-term goals of the CHS Band.  These goals will vary from financial targets to recruitment to simple activities that the students would like to participate in.  Right now we ask that everyone begins thinking of the "ideal" goals and we'll start the formal process after the Fall Concert to document our goals and begin charting out the next five-year plan of the CHS Band.

In the meantime, enjoy and please keep in touch if there are ever any questions, comments or concerns:

The function of man is to live, not to exist. 

Possibility into Reality

posted Aug 15, 2012, 5:33 AM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:22 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing."
Samuel Smiles

I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer!  I truly hope that we've all accomplished our goals for the summer but also that we've been excited and filled with anticipation for the coming school year.  Not that we'd ever want to wish it away, but we are now confronted with the wonderful opportunity to see the transition from anticipation into action.  I for one am very eager to get the school year underway and share wonderful musical experiences with wonderful music students.  I always spend hours in anticipation preparing for the school year and sometimes feel as though the start of the year is just the falling of the first domino - our student leaders, Music Boosters, and all of the staff of the High School have been hard at work preparing for this school year to be a fantastic learning experience.  But we can't think that the "falling of the first domino,"  means we are passively allowing the school year to fall as it may.  The work is just about to begin, if we've done our preparation correctly, the work will be a joy as we discover the things which we are capable of performing.

We will begin the year with our Annual Meet-and-Greet on August 27th at 3:30pm, immediately following the Freshman Orientation. We'll also use this time to get to know the band as well as begin rehearsals for the upcoming 300th Anniversary Parade (Sept. 29th).

Throughout the year, please be sure you stay informed by using this Booster Page as well as the Band Webpage.
The Band page includes a Calendar (will continue being updated through the end of summer) as well as a number of other resources to help you have a successful year such as Excused Absence Forms, Handbook Information.

This year, the entire CHS Community will be using a program called "Powerschool" to organize grades, schedules, and communication.  The opportunities to stay informed and involved are seemingly endless!  Please stay in touch and always feel free to ask if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.  Email is usually best -

Thanks so much and I truly can't wait to see the band in the coming weeks!

"Suffer now..."

posted May 29, 2012, 5:01 PM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:23 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

"Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion." ~ Muhammad Ali

I hope I didn't scare anyone with that title.  And not that we ever want to think of music or practicing or dedication as "suffering," but what a terrific sentiment for students of music.  We look back at this school year and see some wonderful progress in the CHS Band.  The trip to Cleveland and our 2nd Semester performances certainly give the band much to celebrate, but we will also be the first to tell you how much further we'd like to go as "champions."

To close out the year, we have plenty of fun activities:
June 1 - Pops Concert at Patriots Park (6:30pm) and Senior Awards
June 8 - BanDquet 2012
June 23 - Graduation (the full band performs)

I won't rush the summer away on you, but there will be information coming out before the end of the school year regarding how we'll be starting up next school year.  We'll have a parade on Sept. 29th celebrating Coventry's 300th Anniversary as well as our traditional beginning of the year festivities - Fall Concerts, Football Games, and some "Getting-to-Know-You" opportunities for students and parents.  Clearly we'll be hitting the ground running this fall (barring any hurricanes or surprise blizzards).

Have a terrific summer if I don't see you in person, and we very much look forward to next school year! 

It's about time.

posted Mar 19, 2012, 9:19 AM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:24 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

It's about time.  And I don't mean that we've been waiting for something to happen - I mean it really is about time.  Everything we do is tied into the clock - busy work schedules, family schedules, one activity after the next - and music is no exception to this rule.  As I look down at this blog that the Boosters so kindly set up for me, I see two posts in October.... and now this one - what a year it has been!  I'm going to try to be much more consistent with updates through the blog postings.  It's all about time.  Suddenly it's March, Music in our Schools Month - a wonderful time to pause, remember, and celebrate the subject in our schools that so many students find joy, challenges, peace, art (or insert your own descriptor here _______)  in - MUSIC!

We have a wonderful array of activities coming up now that the Spring Musical is over with.  The Red Satin Concert this Friday the 23rd promises to be a wonderful night of music and entertainment accompanied by a "Music in our Schools" Poster Contest, and CHS Band Student Bake Sale.   During the concert, select members of the CHS Jazz Band will join Red Satin for a song.

Once we get into April, we have the annual All-State Conference in Hartford where Emma Gould will be representing our Band as a Clarinetist. Following the April Break, the Band will be making its way to Cleveland for a Performance Tour encompassing a number of performances for the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, an Percussion Ensemble in a variety of venues as well as opportunities to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cleveland Orchestra.  

Updates from the Band Room (actually from Starbuck's since there's no power anywhere...)

posted Oct 31, 2011, 1:49 PM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:25 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

Anyone else's ears still ringing?  Thank you so much to those who contributed, supported, and came by the Guinness World Record Drum Roll.  30 hours - we did it!  Now the challenge that lies ahead is documenting it: we lost power, witnesses were stuck in their drive ways, and now we have limited to no communication statewide.  But we will not be denied - if there's one thing we just proved, it's that we are determined.

I know it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks and these days off from school will only contribute to that sense of uncertainty for many.  Here's a couple items beyond the drum roll to keep in mind.

Charter Oak Music Festival - as of right now, is still on.  If we aren't in school Wednesday, we will not have that first rehearsal.  More info TBA.

Eastern Region Auditions - instrumentalists are going to carpool to avoid being stuck on site for 6 hours.  Times are posted and I will share that once we're back in school.

Football Games - Only 2 left!  Saturday afternoon and Thanksgiving morning!  And did I mention the team is still undefeated?

Trip Info will be forthcoming.  I was trying to hold off on information overload before the Record Attempt; now that things are settling back to "normal" around the Band Room, I'll be sure to get that info out.

Thank you!

Gillian isn't sick, she's a dancer...

posted Oct 14, 2011, 8:48 AM by Ned Smith   [ updated Oct 22, 2013, 6:28 PM by Coventry Music Boosters ]

Greetings all!  Here we are two weeks out from a World Record Attempt, the following week the Charter Oak Music Festival, the following week some students will be auditioning for the CMEA Eastern Region Music Festival.  And then before you know it, the holidays are upon us and the Winter Concert will be here.  So will end a very active first semester here with the CHS Band.  A huge thank you the Boosters, volunteers, and students who have dedicated hours of work to assist the band in any way, shape, or form.

Needless to say, simply staying active is not why we do what we do.  These students stay active because they believe in the importance of what we do as students of music and they find a place to belong with other musicians.  They believe in the importance of beauty and expression, some of them are just drawn towards melody and rhythm, and from time to time they have thoughts uniquely different than their peers.  The conversation of "what we do" is ongoing with our students.   And believe me, the conversation of why we do it is even more challenging sometimes.  This week, as I found myself getting somewhat frazzled with the immense workload set before us; I was reminded of a story.  Sir Ken Robinson, a very eloquent speaker who you can find on, explains below to some degree what we must recognize in our student musicians.   This story certainly keeps me focused on the "Why" of music for our students.  And it reminds me always, that even if we can't always explain or quantify the significance, it is nonetheless deeply valuable within these students of Coventry High School.  Have a great weekend!


He begins the story by explaining that Gillian is an 8 year old student struggling in school:

"We think Gillian has a learning disorder." She couldn't concentrate, she was fidgeting. 

Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on a chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, "Gillian, I've listened to all these things that your mother's told me, and I need to speak to her privately." He said, "Wait here, we'll be back, we won't be very long." and they went and left her. But as they went out the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room, he said to her mother, "Just stand and watch her." And the minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, "Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick, she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school."

She did. I can't tell you how wonderful it was. "We walked in this room and it was full of people like me," [said Gillian]. People who couldn't sit still. People who had to move to think. Who had to move to think. They did ballet, they did tap, they did jazz, they did modern, they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School, she became a soloist, she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and founded her own company -- the Gillian Lynne Dance Company -- met Andrew Lloyd Weber. She's been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she's given pleasure to millions, and she's a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.


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