Monday, November 28, 2022

Critical Mass and Beginners (or Physics in Band)
by Troy Bunkley
Educational Representative, PMC St. Louis

KeyToSuccess Critical mass is a term used in physics to describe the smallest amount of material needed to create or maintain a chain reaction. Once you have that amount, you can keep a reaction going for a very long time, if not for eternity. This is a term that also can be applied to the instrumentation of your beginning instrumental music program.

In the instrumental world, critical mass is the number of students that will hopefully provide the quantity and quality of players in your program through the high school level. Starting the "perfect" number can increase your chances of keeping students in your program longer and reducing the challenges of asking students to switch instruments later.

We have all had that section in a beginner class that just doesn't seem to progress at the same rate as the rest of the class. Every other section is nailing every song. But this section seems to struggle with almost every exercise in the book. The most frustrating aspect of this situation can be that they all seem content in not achieving success.

There are a couple of items to address to help you determine your critical mass number for each instrument:

The hope is that the application of this strategy will help improve the rate of progress in your beginners and retention throughout your program. Continual reflection and analysis of the critical mass numbers will be essential to maintain a strong program or "chain reaction".

Take out those rosters and calculators and now we can add "physics teacher" to the job title for all directors.

Troy Bunkley Troy Bunkley is an Educational Representative for Palen Music Center at the O'Fallon, MO location. Troy retired from teaching in 2016 after 31 years on the podium. He taught at Fredericktown, Poplar Bluff, and most recently 22 years at Washington, MO.

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative
Can we assist you with anything? Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.
(417) 882-7000 (573) 256-5555 (816) 792-8301
(417) 781-3100 (405) 896-8111 (479) 464-8877
(918) 286-1555 (636) 229-1904 (417) 882-7000

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