Boitz featured in new book about music teachers and their programs

October 6, 2011 — by Cecilia Hollenhorst and Jay Mulye
leaderoftheband

"Leader of the Band" by Scott Lang

While motivational speaker and writer Scott Lang has been invited to Saratoga High annually for six years to speak to the music students, this year he brought along a surprise: his new book, with an entire chapter centered around music department chair Michael Boitz.

While motivational speaker and writer Scott Lang has been invited to Saratoga High annually for six years to speak to the music students, this year he brought along a surprise: his new book, with an entire chapter centered around music department chair Michael Boitz.

Lang’s book, “Leader of the Band,” discusses the experiences of nine music teachers and their approaches to shaping a music program.

In the portion about Boitz, entitled “A Pe-King Duck out of Water,” Lang outlines Boitz’s initial decision to move from “Minnesota’s frigid winters and conservative mind-set” to Saratoga, “home of sunny skies and Asian culture.” The chapter continues to discuss various difficulties and surprises Boitz encountered while working in Saratoga, along with the lessons that he has learned.

The music department has progressed significantly through the years under the guidance of Boitz since he started in 1998, and his principles are stated in Lang’s book.

“We must reach out to our parents. We must reach out to our students. We must reach out to our community. We must reach out to our colleagues. We must connect with people,” Boitz said, in Lang’s book.

While Boitz and Lang have become friends over the years, Boitz was surprised two years ago when Lang mentioned his intentions to include Boitz in a book.

“I just laughed and said sure,” Boitz said. “I didn’t really believe that it would come to fruition at the time.”

Until Lang revealed the fact that Boitz played a large part in his latest book, most of Boitz’s students were unaware of the honor.

“I was surprised and also proud of our teacher for having an influence on such an important person,” drum major junior Bennett Lopez said.

On Sept. 19, orchestra and marching band students attended mandatory assemblies featuring Lang. Although Lang, a former band director from Arizona, has spoken to Saratoga music department students several years in a row, Boitz believes that hearing him speak more than once is a valuable experience.

“The students seem to be very energized and excited in the message rather profoundly when he comes,” Boitz said. “They do not get Scott Lang fatigue.”

Lopez has seen Lang speak numerous times, but feels that he has had a positive impact on the group every year.

“[Lang’s] speeches are engaging while also pointing out many of our problems that we can improve on,” Lopez said.

Both Boitz and Lopez have observed changes in students’ attitudes after Lang’s speeches and believe that taking time to listen to his advice is worthwhile, as it stays with students for a long time.
“Kids who have experienced him seven years ago have some of the mantras ingrained in their heads right now,” Boitz said.

Lang’s speeches discuss leadership and work ethic, and Boitz continues to find the variability of Lang’s speeches helpful in inviting him back annually. Each speech contains different details and methods to make students think about themselves and the group as a whole in a new way, whether or not they have encountered Lang before.

“Every time students experience [Lang], I think that they react differently, but the greatest victory is that what [Lang] says … has an impact with students,’” Boitz said.

Even though Lang speaks primarily to music students, Boitz feels that Lang’s message can even touch those outside of musical activities.

“Band is used as a metaphor to convey life messages,” Boitz said. “They’re about our ability and making sure that we’re taking advantage of our given talents.”

Lang’s books, including “Leader of the Band” may be purchased in hardcover on Giamusic.com or eBook format on Amazon.com.

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