MBC: What roles have you held in education, and how many years have you taught?
Jimmy Day: We’ll let me go backwards. I’ve been teaching 11 total years in instrumental music in education, and all of my time I’ve taught in middle school grades 5 thru 8 or 6 thu 8. I kind of make a joke about, you know, I’m kind of crazy because I’ve been in middle school this long, and normally middle school teachers who teach in middle school this long, were kind of crazy. [laughs]. The first 8 years of my career I was strictly teaching band, and I taught a little bit of music appreciation here and there, but it was mainly band for those first 8 years. And these past 3 years, I had the pleasure of becoming an orchestra teacher as well, so I was kind of able to extend my range in the instrumental music realm with string instruments, so that’s been fun.
MBC: Why did you become an educator?
Jimmy Day: Oh man! How much time do you have? [laughs] Let me try to make this short. My first few years at Tennessee State University, I wasn’t trying to be an educator, I was trying to do architecture and fashion. I went through this thing of trying to find myself because I wasn’t successful at either major. Around spring of 2002, Dr. McDonald, the Associate Band Director at that time, used to say to me all of the time, “Jimmy, you know you want to be a music major. You need to just come on home because you spend most of your time in the music building practicing.” Not to mention, I was in leadership roles and first chair player in various ensembles from middle school up through college. So, he had me thinking about a lot of stuff and I figured it might be a good thing to do. As a music major, I had opportunities to do practicums and one on one teachings with students, and that sparked a passion. This was what I wanted to do, and this is how I wanted to give back. The reason why I was able to get where I got was because someone invested in me in the band room, so I wanted to do the same for my students.
MBC: What are few of your beliefs about education, and how does it manifest in your day to day as an educator?
Jimmy Day: Education is a civil right. That is my main belief. I think that students deserve the chance to learn something. They need to learn something that is going to allow them to be better in life, to help them become successful in life in whatever that is. That is what I try to manifest in my teaching. You know, I tell my students all of the time that band is a way of life. I say that everything you are doing in this band room is going to make you become a better person. In band, students have to work well with others, they have to be disciplined, they have to show leadership skills and be reflective. All of that will and can contribute to their present and future successes.
MBC: What’s one thing that you are proud of in your career?
Jimmy Day: The positive impact I have on students inside and outside my classroom. Inside the classroom, my students understand that Mr. Day wants it one way, THE RIGHT WAY. They really appreciate that, and embrace it because they know it’s coming from a good place. They also know that I hold them to high standards no matter what their individual skill level is. Many of my former students tell me how much they miss that intensity when they move on to high school. Outside of the classroom, younger siblings of band members are highly impacted because they see their older brother, sister or cousin performing, working hard, having fun and being successful under my leadership and it gets them so excited to be in my class. They will say “ Hey Mr. Day, I can’t wait to be in your class!”
MBC: What tips would you give to a first year teacher in your content?
Jimmy Day: Don’t assume that students automatically understand your expectations. As a first year teacher, it’s about setting standards, setting expectations and reinforcing them DAILY. That is the first thing that needs to be addressed before any instrument gets touched. Explain to them the importance of your rules, (have your rules on your wall in big letters) and procedures. Define and discuss what procedures are so it can be clearly understood. You must teach your students how to act in your room, even if it means having them practice how to enter,exit and other things that will contribute success in your classroom. That will take you a long way.
MBC: At the end of your career, what do you want to be remembered for?
Jimmy Day: Someone who was passionate about what they did, someone who had positive relationships with teachers, students and parents. Someone who had a huge part in the fabric of the school culture. Someone who really invested in his students, and how he made this middle school band thing the “thing” to do. As a middle school band director or middle school band, we tend to get looked down upon because we’re the babies, the little brothers or little sisters of the high school bands, because that’s where the action is, in high school. Mr. Day can make it about the middle school. He can take this little middle school band program and turn it into a powerhouse right before your eyes, and you still wouldn’t even see it coming.
Interview By Keena Day
I teach instrumental music for grades 6-8 in Aurora, CO. I teach this because I have a true passion about educating students through music, giving them an appreciation as well as giving them tools to succeed in life. I take pride and joy in equipping my students with the necessary skills to not only be successful as a middle school instrumentalist, but also when they transition to becoming a high school musician. As a child, participating in band was fun. In addition to that, it allowed me to learn musical skills, boosted my self confidence, exposed me different genres of music, provided opportunities to travel, get music scholarships to the university of my choosing and have an appreciation for music. Teaching instrumental music is a way for me to “pay it forward” to the students in the community I teach, and give them those same experiences I did and more. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in if my band teachers didn’t invest in me, help me and expose me to different activities that kept me focused and out of trouble.