Habits of a Successful Middle School Band Director

“Building the Band”

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of building a successful band program is the actual “building” of the band.  Many times young teachers find themselves in situations where either the band has a poor reputation or even worse….no reputation.  The idea of having to create a new tradition can be daunting to say the least.  More like overwhelming.

Teachers who find themselves in a less than perfect situation need to create a positive image for their programs, develop effective recruiting strategies to build numbers and sharpen their focus to create bands that are well balanced with appropriately placed students.  This process is crucial to the growth and success of every band program in every stage of development.

Some of the questions we need to be asking ourselves include:
*  “Am I creating enough excitement about my program?”
*  “Does my community value my program and see it in a positive light?”
*  “Have I done my research to avoid conflicts with highly other highly valued activities?”
*  “Do I have an established, and effective way to assess incoming students for placement on  instruments?”

*  “Have I created the ‘business’ aspect of my band program to properly manage my band, including the students, their parents and my support staff?”

All of these questions will play a huge role in how successful your band program may become.  Many times, teachers will play an accidental role in creating obstacles that hinder the growth and success of their programs.  One teacher I know, scheduled a mandatory band parent meeting on Super Bowl Sunday night!  Needless to say, he took a huge step backwards with his community by not considering the needs of the community.  Mistakes like that can seriously hinder your efforts to build support for your program.  The truth is we do things like this all the time, without even noticing.

It is important to know what your community and students value, expect and need if we are to be successful in our ultimate goal……developing expressive and technically proficient musicians who love making music.  After all the journey IS supposed to be half the fun, right?

Jeff Scott is the Director of Bands at Thomas Cario Middle School in South Carolina. You may read more information about him here.  
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