Brad’s Beat December 2015


Rhythm Band Instruments enjoyed an event-filled weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in early November.  One highlight of this whirlwind event for me was having the chance to share a meal with some of the teachers and leaders of NCMEA.


Presenting sessions and spending long hours in the convention hall helps one to deeply appreciate the relaxing fellowship of colleagues at an informal meal! NCMEA’s theme this year was finding the place where we belong.   As I caught up with the lives and challenges of my dinner companions, I was once again reminded of the  powerful bond musicians share.  Meeting together with those of similar circumstance brings a sense of belonging and encourages each of us to reflect on the accomplishments of our work.  I have often found new resolve and discovered possible solutions to issues in my work when participating in conversation with dedicated professionals.  Thank you, NCMEA and Rhythm Band Instruments, for allowing me the opportunity to belong and to share in the process of music education with so many who are passionate about this cause!

Upon returning home from NCMEA, I turned my attention to the list of important tasks that needed to be completed during the upcoming holiday season.  Each year, I arrange a classical guitar suite to perform on Christmas Eve at our church’s midnight communion service.  I enjoy creating new modulations and developing non-traditional harmonizations to well-loved melodies, bringing fresh perspectives to the beloved traditions we share.


My work as an arranger, however, often plays second fiddle to my responsibilities of preparing our home for the eagerly anticipated arrival of family and friends who will be visiting during the holidays.

Bryson and purple

This Thanksgiving was especially exciting for us as we were privileged to have a visit from family members who live out of state.Regina and Orange

 We delighted in our youngest grandchildren as they shared impromptu accompaniments on their Boomwhackers.

 My oldest granddaughter proudly helped create her first apple pie which was enjoyed at our Thanksgiving feast this year.Mixing it up 

For those of us fortunate enough to have families that can get together during the holidays, the memories of these events become priceless treasures.  Food and music are two natural ingredients that are found in all of our family gatherings.

As you push back from your Thanksgiving table and begin to refocus on the challenges that your December programs present, take a moment to reflect on the powerful “belonging” experiences that have drawn you into the field of music.  This month, you will be responsible for creating life-long memories for your students.


 As they work together to prepare and present their holiday programs, children will be forming relationships and experiencing the joys and challenges of working together for a common goal.  These “snapshots” of life will be recalled in the years to come and will be remembered fondly by the audiences that come into contact with the fruit of your efforts.  Last week, I was greeted in a restaurant by a young woman with a cheerful smile.  She called me by name and went into great detail about her fond memories as a student in my music class and as a performer in our school Orff ensemble.  I had not seen this student for over a decade, but I was immediately drawn into happy conversation as we recalled Mercie’s experiences and the many friends she made that she still has contact with today.  Truly, we learn much about belonging as we participate in the music programs of our schools.  I am sure you could share moving accounts of the powerful “belonging” moments that participation in music has created from your experiences.  The gift of music is near the top of my list when I give thanks!

That’s Brad’s Beat for December. May your experiences this month be filled with the powerful touch of belonging as you share the gift of music with your community.  Please contact us at RBI if we can be of service to you!


Bradley L. Bonner, M.Ed.

President, BLB Studios

Elementary Music Specialist, Rhythm Band Instruments  352-408-1489



Handout for the “Road to Belonging” workshop is below.


(The handout is very large and will take some time to download.)


Roadmap to Belonging


Posted below is a video invitation to this “hands-on” workshop.



If you would like to share one of these sessions with your fellow  teachers, be sure to contact me about the possibility of a half or whole day in-service for your group. (My contact information is listed below or you may call Trina Martin at Rhythm Band Instruments  at 800-424-4724 for information about the dozens of workshops that RBI makes available for  teacher in-service meetings.)


That’s Brad’s Beat for November. As always, it is our privilege at Rhythm Band Instruments to serve your program needs with exciting instruments and motivating support materials.  Please contact us if we can be of service to you!



Bradley L. Bonner, M.Ed.


President, BLB Studios


Elementary Music Specialist, Rhythm Band Instruments  352-408-1489