James Mick is an associate professor of music education at Ithaca College in upstate New York. In February I heard Dr. Mick give an inspiring TMEA workshop on getting the most out of your orchestra rehearsals. His presentation was extremely informative and offered many really practical suggestions for improvement. We spoke more recently about just one aspect of his presentation, focusing on the importance of how a director delivers information.
The secretary. The custodian. The counselor. These people in your building play an often behind-the-scenes, yet vitally important, role in your program’s success. Of these three, however, the counselor is often the most underutilized. It was not until I became a school counselor (after 10 years of teaching band) that I realized the many ways counselors affected my band program and wished I had known then what I know now.
Be honest: you had a dream job in mind when you graduated with your music education degree. Maybe you had your heart set on leading a major national marching program as a head director. Maybe you wanted to teach beginning strings. Unfortunately, your ideal position may not have been available when you did a job search.
A few years ago I was a composer-in-residence at a university. While there I worked with many of the students, as well as with outlying teachers. One teacher was at the beginning of her second year of teaching. Her undergraduate degree had included creative music-making pedagogy, and according to staff at the university, she was a star student.
Imagine a conversation like this in your classroom:
Director: Today I propose to do something for you that none of your other teachers will ever do. I’m prepared to let you decide what we will work on in this class.
Students: [Most showing interest, except for some percussionists who appear to be digging a tunnel.]
Director: Specifically, I will let you choose what we will perform on the next concert.
Traveling with school music groups has a multitude of benefits – both musical and non-musical. Many times the nonmusical benefits far outweigh the musical benefits. To take advantage of these travel benefits, begin by asking the basic “W” questions – Where, When, What, and with Whom? As you decide what type of assistance you will need to answer these questions, be sure to take advantage of resources available to you within your school community; you may not need an outside trip planner or company.
I’m a huge fan of parent booster groups. They can really help promote your program, make fundraising easier, and engage your community. Joining me to talk about booster groups this week is Ryan Crabtree, president-elect of the Colorado Bandmasters Association. More importantly, however, Ryan is my daughter’s band director. Since I’m an active member of Ryan’s parent booster organization, you’ll also get some behind-the-scenes glimpses at how and why Ryan’s approach works so well.
As a band or orchestra director, few tasks are more important than recruiting new students. To help ensure the longevity of your music program, we’ve compiled recruitment and instrument selection advice from top educators across the country.
Whether you’ve experienced just a few instrument fitting days, or dozens, these tips that can help your next event be more successful with less effort.
Imagine a perfect world. Imagine a world where your students bring greatly improved attitude, sound, rhythm, confidence, and listening skills to your rehearsal. Sounds great, right?
It is our experience that having students play in chamber ensembles regularly will give you stronger results for your entire program even though it may mean less large ensemble rehearsal time.