In our survey, we asked Band Directors Talk Shop readers “What do you do to facilitate leadership in your band program?” With many great responses, here is the list of very helpful ideas and practices for growing leaders.
- Delegate jobs to students
- Give students more responsibility
- Have student librarians and clerical assistants
- Have specific jobs for leaders, take attendance, start warm ups (physical and playing), hand out papers, collect field trip forms, band hall set up etc.
- Select students randomly to sit in the front of the group and be a rehearsal detective.
- Teach students how to run rehearsal when I am gone and the sub has no music experience. (See an article on this topic HERE )
- We use a system where the first chair leads section practice. The teacher is always in the room, but does not interfere unless it’s necessary. The responsibility is on them to make sure the section is ready for next practice or concert.
- Have the students come up with the leadership positions, nominate themselves, and vote
- I have an entire leadership council, with positions and specific responsibilities. Students go through training for a couple of weeks, they decide which position they would like, and then they are interviewed by me and my staff. We place students accordingly.
- Band officers – at the elementary level!
- Assign section leaders to point out key signatures, hand out music, be the ones to “settle down” chatting
- Elect band officers and utilize the drum majors as classroom helpers.
- Everything goes through the band council and section leaders. Give them real responsibilities and speak to them when they are not making it happen.
- We have a leadership council that consists of 4 elected officers (President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary) and then class representatives from our 4 ensembles. Total council is usually around 20 students. They plan events, logistics throughout the year, plan fundraisers, and communicate to their peers via the council.
- Students lead sectionals, folder captains and band leaders write program notes and introduce at concerts.
- This year, I let my eighth graders plan a party for the band. They did such a wonderful job, I’m thinking of making that a tradition.
- Create a mentor program. Kids love to show what they know and the beginners often look up to these students.
- Encourage older students to work with younger students.
- Assign chamber groups and leaders to run their rehearsals during the class period.
- I have my junior high band students each have a member of the beginner band who play the same instrument that they buddy with. It’s more of a buddy system than a leadership system but they love having an older student to depend on.
- Offer mixed age level chamber groups such as woodwind symphony with grades 5-8 or 5-12
- Have pupils directing different aspects of the rehearsal, teaching younger pupils or teaching their colleagues a new instrument
Train & Equip Students for Success
- Annual leadership meeting prior to the start of camp
- Leadership clinics with our leaders
- I have section leaders and they help run a mini retreat we do at the beginning of the year.
- I provide students with leadership articles and my own teachings and have discussions on the topic.
- Encourage small leadership steps when students are underclassmen. Then I do have multiple sessions of training with students so they know what I expect.
- I provide special bonding time throughout the year so the leaders continue to have a strong support system.
- I have the leaders keep journals to track what procedures are working best for them and which are not.
- Have regular leadership meetings. Discuss how things are going, good, bad and ugly. Address all of them I do team training leadership – my upperclassmen leaders do a weekly leadership camp with my younger students. I also do student conductors for concert music as well as marching to give students a chance to rehearse the group.
- I bring in people to talk about leadership and use what they say throughout the year.
- I have created a three week fully online course that every leader must take and score above a certain score in order to apply to be any type of student leader in the band.
- I started a leadership group in grades 7 and 8. Students create content, set goals, and solve problems for their peers. This coming year, I want to include the high school band in picking music, doing sectionals and warming-up the band.
- Every other year I do a book club where we read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. We hold leadership training workshops for new marching band leaders in thespring each year.
- Chamber Music
- Small jobs first (see article HERE)
- Mini clinics
- Community service within the school community
- Solo opportunities outside of large ensemble
- Let students take turns counting off exercises (particularly beginners)
- We have student leaders for each section. I am also working with a graphic arts teacher to create a logo for each section – to get them to work together as a unit, not soloist.
- Independent learning unit for the grade 12 students that is leadership-based. They run sectionals as part of their mark. The school usually pays for two of the music council members to attend leadership camp in the summer to help develop their leadership skills.
- Build student confidence by valuing their opinions on music selection, talking with students in sectionals or one on one to value their position in band and boost their confidence as players. Encourage them to share any tips or tricks they learn with their section.
- I have a music council, who run many events and fundraisers during the year (we don’t have “boosters” like many US schools seem to have, so the kids do this). They get citizenship points for their work, and at the end of the year, get to paint their names on the practice room wall
- I have a special colored stand that is used to pass around. If someone does something special (help someone without me asking, putting something away, or working really hard on their music) they can use the special music stand.
- I use “secret students.” I watch for different leadership qualities (predetermined by the students at the beginning of the year and posted throughout the year) each week without telling the students what I am watching for. When I see a student exhibiting that behavior I make a mark on the seating chart. At the end of the week I draw names from the marks that I have made, one mark equals one entry. I keep a treasure box of slips (free oil/reed or free point on playing test, lunch bunch invitation, etc) they get to draw out of when they “win” for student of the week, and they get a phone call home for their awesome behavior
- Promote ownership
- Provide opportunities for student growth and ownership
- I inform the kids that the band is theirs and I’m there to assist them to get to the place where they work together to produce the best product possible. I do have 51% of the vote.
- I look for natural leaders and expand on their strengths/talents. A leader is not necessarily the first chair player
- I tell my students that being a leader, as a musician, means that you demonstrate what to do without using words. You use the attention to detail, the musicianship necessary, to perform well.
- I try to get other voices….others to share…so they don’t get tired of just me.
- Lead by example. 1st to practice. Last to leave.
- Model great leadership, first and foremost. Then teach them how to lead. Show them what your expectations are so you’re more likely to get the desired result.
- Pay regular attention to all students’ progress. Minimize distractions to teachers teaching.
- Team is what we teach, all for one, one for all. Kids know when they get in trouble in school we all suffer as folks say, “Look at those band kids causing problems.” They also know I will be right there to find them in in school suspension room or office when I find out!
- In general, my philosophy on facilitating leadership is to encourage leaders to find someone who can do their job at 70-80% of the level of the leader, and train that person up to prepare them for that position in the coming year. (Officers get elected, so multiple people would be trained if they expressed interest.)
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