Nicolas Propes is the Assistant Director of Bands at Pleasant Valley High School, Bettendorf, Iowa, a position he has held since the fall of 2003. As Assistant Director of Bands, Mr. Propes is responsible for directing the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Two, Trombone Choir, and Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble. Nicolas also co-directs the Symphonic Band, Jazz Three, the 290 member Spartan Marching Band, and two pep bands. In addition to directing ensembles, Mr. Propes also teaches lessons to all low brass and saxophone students at Pleasant Valley High School. Mr. Propes graduated from the University of Iowa in 2002 with a Bachelor of Music degree and is currently working towards a Master’s Degree at the American Band College of Sam Houston State University.

Nicolas Propes is the Assistant Director of Bands at Pleasant Valley High School, Bettendorf, Iowa, a position he has held since the fall of 2003. As Assistant Director of Bands, Mr. Propes is responsible for directing the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Two, Trombone Choir, and Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble. Nicolas also co-directs the Symphonic Band, Jazz Three, the 290 member Spartan Marching Band, and two pep bands. In addition to directing ensembles, Mr. Propes also teaches lessons to all low brass and saxophone students at Pleasant Valley High School. Mr. Propes graduated from the University of Iowa in 2002 with a Bachelor of Music degree and is currently working towards a Master’s Degree at the American Band College of Sam Houston State University.

With 290 students in the 9th-12th grade program, the Pleasant Valley high school band is one of the largest in the state of Iowa. While we are proud of our enrollment and are always looking to continue our growth, the size of our ensemble does present difficulties, particularly when it comes to communication. A majority of the students in our band carry SMS enabled devices, whether it be a cell phone, smart phone, iPod Touch, or tablet, which makes Celly a wonderful way to communicate with students and parents.

As part of our curriculum, students attend 15-minute lessons with one of five instructors throughout the school day. Because students are busy and encounter many distractions throughout the day, we found they would occasionally forget about their lessons. Enter Celly. We use Celly’s SMS text service as a means to remind students of their lesson day. At 7:30 A.M. on the morning of their lesson, each student who has signed up for Celly’s SMS text messaging service will receive a text message reminding them that they have a lesson on that day. It is then the student’s responsibility to check the lesson schedule posted on our website or in our classroom to determine their specific lesson time. Because we set in advance the lesson days for the quarter, I can use Celly’s scheduled messages feature to schedule texts for the entire quarter in one afternoon. Once I create the scheduled messages, I do not have to worry about the text messages for the remainder of the quarter; Celly automatically sends the correct text every morning at 7:30. We set aside time during the first week of class to have all students sign up for text messages together. It is an easy process that we do once per year and takes, at most, ten minutes of our rehearsal time.  Our students appreciate the text message lesson reminders very much and it has been helpful in increasing our lesson attendance.

We also have texts groups for each of our four concert bands and three jazz bands and students and parents have the option of signing up to receive text messages specific to the ensembles in which the student participates. These ensemble text groups are helpful for reminding students about rehearsal, warm-up, and performance times. We utilize the hashlink feature offered by Celly to connect all of our text groups. If we have a text than needs to reach all students regardless of the group they are signed up for, we can use a hashlink to send a text to every student participating in the text message program. The hashlink feature has been useful for alerting our students to delayed performances and fundraiser reminders.

In the future, we plan to create a text group specifically for our students going on our band trip to Florida. We will be able to use this text group to remind students of bus departure, performance, and curfew times. Using the schedule messages feature, we will be able to create these messages before we leave and let Celly send them out at the correct time during our trip.

Overall, Celly has been a wonderful tool for our program and our students and parents have found it to be quite beneficial.

Nicolas Propes
Assistant Band Director
Pleasant Valley High School
Bettendorf, Iowa
www.spartanbands.com

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