Monday, May 7, 2018
IN THIS ISSUE:
Setting Your Small Band Up For Success
Whatever happens, don't get discouraged, keep working, and keep the goals you've set at the forefront of your mind.
All band programs go through highs and lows. These peaks and valleys are especially noticeable in small
band programs, where small numbers of students entering or leaving the program can have a big impact
on success. It's not as easy to "re-load" students in small band programs, but it is easy to "Re-Boot",
a process described below. By consciously "Re-boot"-ing every year or two, small band programs can smooth
out those peaks and valleys and see a more consistent and constant climb upward. To "Re-Boot" your small
band and set them up for big success, consider the following:
Take some time to reflect on the past year or two with brutal honesty.
Chances are, if you reflect honestly, you'll find things about the program that need to be changed, fixed,
tweaked, or polished in order to move forward in a positive direction. Take note of those areas of
- Have you met the goals you had set for your program, both internally and externally?
- Have there been deficiencies in performance that have been consistently nagging your program and
causing performances to be less than what you and your students expect?
- Have you gotten the scores you expect to at your contest/assessment/festival?
Take your list of reflections and examine it.
This is often the hardest part of the process because it takes real brutal honesty and the setting aside
of one's pride to admit weaknesses in program building, pedagogy, organization, programming, or any
other of a myriad aspects of a program in which we take pride as band directors. But, by honestly
examining weak areas of a program, it is much easier to start the process of moving forward. As soon
as you've thoroughly and honestly examined the weak aspects of your program, you'll start to develop
ideas of how to fix/tweak/polish those areas.
- Is there a trend here that ties together the aspects of your program that need fixing?
- Or, if each aspect is somewhat unrelated, why are those areas weak?
Now that you've examined and thought carefully about how you can go about setting your program back on the
right track, you need help. No band director can enact real and lasting change from the podium; we need
the help of student leaders to help increase peer buy-in and help monitor progress as perceived by the
students. Build (or rebuild, if necessary) a group of student leaders whose assets align with the parts
of your program that need to be changed. This can be difficult, as often a student who deserves to be
a student leader (because they've been in the program longest, volunteered a lot, etc) might not be the
best leader to help fix specific issues. It is vital that student leaders have the skill set to help
enact cultural and musical change, so ensure yours meet those goals.
What are some tangible, measurable goals that you can set that will help start the process of fixing the
weak areas of the program while still ensuring a good experience for your students? With the help of
your newly minted student leaders, outline goals for the coming year. Goals should be challenging but
achievable, and once set, the entire band should be made aware of them. Individual accountability is
key, so hold yourself, your leaders, and your students to meeting the goals.
Once goals are outlined, a cogent plan to achieve them must be organized. Go about organizing steps to goal
achievement both alone and with student leaders. Be exacting in setting the steps in motion and keep
in mind that no step is too small and no step should be overlooked. Check-in often with student leaders
to assess progress on each step, measure student morale and buy-in, and readjust organization as necessary
to keep the program on track to meet goals.
This bullet might seem out of place on such a list, but the development of traditions is vital to the success
of a program. Now that you've reflected, examined, built, outlined, and organized, you've likely met
most (if not all) of your goals. This is a great time to establish new traditions that will increase
student pride in new success and help to ensure the success will be lasting rather than fleeting. Traditions
also give students something tactile to hold onto, something to look forward to, and something to work
towards, and these common program-wide goals will increase individual student accountability and buy-in,
and help the program overall to stay on an upward trajectory.
Throughout all of this, remember that all band programs go through highs and lows. Having a plan in place
to get through the lows and back to the highs will help lead to success. Whatever happens, don't get
discouraged, keep working, and keep the goals you've set at the forefront of your mind. With continuous
determination, you'll set your program back on the right path towards success.
Christopher Dobbins is the Director of Instrumental Activities at Washington and Lee University,
where he conducts the University Wind Ensemble, University Orchestra, and teaches conducting
and music education courses. Prior to his appointment at WLU, he served as Director of Bands
at Sul Ross State University, where he conducted the Wind Ensemble and taught courses in
conducting and music education. Prior to teaching at SRSU, he was Instructor of Brass at
Our Lady of the Lake University, Instructor of Trombone at Texas A&M International University,
and Director of Bands at Saint Mary's Hall College Preparatory School. Chris earned the Bachelor
of Music in Education and in Trombone Performance from Hastings College, the Master of Music
in Trombone Performance from the University of Utah, and is completing requirements for the
Doctor of Education in Music Education from the University of Georgia. Chris is active as
a conductor and clinician, and is an Educational Clinician for Jupiter Instrument Co. He
resides in Lexington, VA with his beautiful wife, daughter, and houseful of furry children.
Patrick Moore is an active percussion performer, educator, arranger, adjudicator, and clinician.
Moore is a versatile percussionist with experience in many areas of percussion. Patrick is
an education endorser of Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and Majestic percussion. Professor
Moore is a published author having works published with Alfred Publishing Company and Kendor
Music. Moore has presented clinics at numerous music education conferences in the United
States as well in Guatemala. Currently, Patrick Moore is the Director of Bands/ Director
of Instrumental Studies at Houston Baptist University in Houston Texas. Mr. Moore received
his Bachelor of Music from the University of Arkansas, Masters from Texas Tech and is also
pursuing his Ed.D from Abilene Christian University.
Meet the Team
Up Close With...
Director of School Music Operations
How long have you been with PMC, and what brought you to the company?
I started working for PMC in January of 2010. I was at a point in my life where I was ready for change and initially thought that working for a family-owned music store seemed like a great fit. However, after my first interview, I became even more attracted to the company. I learned a lot about PMC values and the overall company mission during that interview. Example: I learned that PMC was involved in sending employees to Brazil to help build churches through an organization called Christian Missions Unlimited (CMU). Coincidentally, this is something I had been involved with for over 10 years prior to interviewing for the position and was a very big part of my life. I had no doubt that PMC was the perfect fit.
Where did you grow up? Musical family? Professional background?
I was born in Springfield, but moved around a lot during my childhood. I've spent time in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas (Go Hogs!) and Missouri. Growing up, music was ever-present in my family. Both my mother and grandmother were very good piano players. I started playing piano and guitar as a hobby during my early teenage years and would spend many years playing for my church family.
I have two dogs. Mya is our 5-year-old black lab and Khaleesi (Khal) is our 2-year-old golden retriever. My wife and I enjoy getting them outdoors as much as possible.
Any interesting hobbies?
I am a dedicated St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan and root for the Razorbacks every chance I get (Woo Pig)! As mentioned above, I love spending time in Brazil! I really consider it my home away from home. My first trip there was in 2000 and it was to help build a church for an existing congregation that didn't have a place to meet. I fell in love with the people and the culture and eventually moved down there for several months. While I was there I helped with other church builds and took Portuguese classes to improve my communication with the Brazilian people.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Rachel for (almost) two years. We love spending time with our dogs, listening to local live music and traveling as much as possible.
Missouri State "Bands Alive" 2018 Summer Camps
Concert Band Camp (June 26-29) - $340 per student
Color Guard / Winter Guard Camp (June 27-29) - $290 per student
Leadership Camp (June 27-29) - $290 per student
Director's Workshop (June 27) - $60 per person
Online registration and additional camp information can be found at www.missouristate.edu/band.
Click brochures to enlarge.
Missouri State University requested that we pass along information on their director workshop and summer band camp. If you have an event that you would like us to publicize, please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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