Monday, October 29, 2018
If it seems like there's never enough rehearsal time, here are a few tips to make the best of the time you have. I hope they are helpful!
1. Start rehearsal on time every day. Be ready to give the downbeat right when class begins. Insist that everyone is ready to play at that time. Starting rehearsal with announcements, etc. just takes longer for the students to get "dialed in" and the last minute arrivals use that time to put their instrument together instead of listening. In addition, it shows the other students that being on time and ready is optional.
2. While playing the warm-up scale (or whatever you use), take the opportunity to make eye contact with every student in the band. It's a good first step to communication, and it lets them know that you're expecting an "interactive" teaching experience.
3. When you're talking to the group, insist on eye-contact from everyone. If they are messing with their music or instrument, they're not hearing you. If what you're saying is not important enough for their attention, why bother saying it? Also, be brief. Don't use 100 words to say something that only needs 10.
4. Students asking a director "Are we playing today?" is like asking the cafeteria workers "Are we eating today?". Taking a day off from playing should not be considered a reward.
5. The more time you spend on fundamentals, the faster they'll learn the concert music. Having a skill set that can be applied is much more effective than learning each skill as it occurs in music (and those 'spot skills' are unlikely to carry over to the next occurrence.)
6. If you want students to watch you while playing, you have to insist on it and train them to make it a habit. Don't expect them to look at you if all they see is the top of your head.
7. Teach students to be musicians who can make independent musical decisions. You can't possibly correct every pitch, rhythm, style, and tuning issue. The more they learn to do themselves, the more effective the process.
8. Students should only make markings on the music that give more information than what is already provided. If they miss the key, writing in a reminder accidental is more effective than just circling the note. Just circling means that they have to mentally process the meaning of the marking before applying it. In addition, students should be in a habit of making correct notations (accidentals before notes, not after or above.)
9. Students should learn to be comfortable playing by themselves. It will not be a traumatic event if it's a regular expectation.
10. Get off the podium. Move around the room. It will provide a great opportunity to correct posture, etc. In addition, kids are more likely to stay focused on task when you might be looking over their shoulder at any moment.
|David Gorham retired in 2014 after 32 years in public school music education. He served as Director of Bands at Owasso High School for 25 years. The ensembles under his leadership earned Superior ratings at every region and state event for 30 consecutive years. The Owasso Wind Ensemble performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in 1999 & 2012, and was selected as an Oklahoma Music Educator's Association Honor Group seven times. The band program was awarded the Sudler Flag of Honor and Sudler Shield by the Sousa Foundation.|