One of my goals is that every one of my students makes a positive contribution to the band program as a whole. No one is dead weight. No one is just existing. Everyone has a job and is vital to the success of the program. When students take a more active role in the band, they are more invested in it. They also develop a greater sense of self-esteem. Some students though, often due to a lack of confidence, will simply try to fly under the radar, enrolling in the band but doing as little as possible to earnestly contribute to the program. We must teach them that there are many roles in the band, but just showing up is not one of those roles. They must do more than simply being present.
One way in which I have found all students can contribute is by being involved in some of the behind-the-scenes work that is so vital to the success of the band. Rather than giving these assignments only to student leaders or trying to do it all myself, these tasks can be spread among all band members.
One way I give all my students the opportunity to serve behind the scenes is through Event Crew, which involves students helping with set-up or tear-down/clean up before and after all band events. I sit down at the beginning of the year, look over our band calendar, and make a list of all upcoming band events—football games, concerts, middle school concerts hosted at our campus, 5th grade instrument drives, booster meetings, etc. Then I determine how many students we will need to help before and after each of these events. For example, maybe we need four students to set up chairs in the band hall after school for a booster meeting. Or we need five students to stay after Friday night’s football game to clean up the band hall. Or ten students to stay after our spring concert to stack chairs and stands and move percussion equipment back to the band hall.
As the year goes along, I assign students to work each event. I post the names about a week before the event and announce it in classes. I try to include a student leader with each crew who will be in charge. Students are responsible for finding a replacement if they are unavailable at the time to which they are assigned. They find a substitute, and I re-assign them to the next Event Crew opportunity coming up.
Students show up at the time I have posted and check in with me. I give an instruction sheet to the leader (I re-use this year after year as we host the same events). Sometimes I work with the students to complete the job. I’ve found this to be a lot of fun because it gives me an opportunity to spend time with some students I don’t know as well in a smaller setting. If I’m busy with other things though, I trust the students to do the job. They check in with me when they think they are finished, and I look over their work. The whole thing usually takes 15-30 minutes.
How many times students are assigned to Event Crew in a single year depends on the size of the band and the number of events on the calendar. Usually, my students only work one to three times in a year. I keep track of how many times everyone works. I usually just cycle through the band alphabetically and each year start where I left off the previous year. Serving on Event Crew is not associated with a grade, and I don’t talk a lot about it being mandatory. When I talk to the students about it, I focus more on how it helps the band. When a student does not show up for their assigned time, I talk to them the very next day to find out what happened. Then I immediately assign them to the next event.
I love that Event Crew gets every single student involved in serving the band. It’s awesome to see a student who normally just blends into the background taking an active role in getting ready for a band event. I believe Event Crew inspires the students to take more pride in the band program. It also motivates them to be more invested in the care of the facilities after spending some time cleaning up after an event! As directors, we need to look for ways such as Event Crew to give every student a chance to make a positive contribution to the band.
Bryn Roberts is in her 13th year as a band director. She is currently an assistant director in Frisco ISD at Reedy High School, which she helped open in 2015. Before coming to Reedy, Mrs. Roberts taught in Brenham ISD and at Westlake High School in Austin. She holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music Education from Texas Tech University.
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