In our recent survey, we asked Band Directors Talk Shop readers, “What is the most meaningful piece of “Band Director Advice” you have been given?” With hundreds of responses to the survey, we came up with this categorized list of some of your answers. Thanks so much to all of our readers who took time to fill out the survey. Keep an eye out for more Readers’ Collaborative Posts in the future, and enjoy this “band director advice” from fellow directors!
- Every day is different and a new opportunity to make a difference. Don’t let yesterday dictate today.
- If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
- Keep everything you do all about the kids.
- Know your audience: the ones you teach, their parents, and the community you teach in.
- Make the students feel like they’re part of the Band family; they will remain in the Band because of how it makes them feel (safe/valued/wanted/accepted) more so than what their mark is.
- Put on a happy face and let the kids know that you are excited to be there and it is all about them. Try to leave everything else out of their class time.
- I remember being told in a college methods class that I would be teaching “people” not “music.” It was a life changing moment for me.
- Some kids need band more than the band needs them, love and encourage those kids who just need the community.
- “It’s time to tighten the screws.” When you’re ensemble starts to perform and everything seems great, get more detailed about things. Challenge them, and expect more. They will step into it. If you don’t, you can expect a retrograde mode of operation.
- Have fun but stay firm and fair.
- I had a mentor that would always say “Teach the band in front of you, not the one in your head.” In other words, teach what the students need right now.
- In rehearsal, keep track occasionally of how often you ask the brass and percussion instruments not to play so you can fix the more complex parts. You’ll be shocked at how much idle time they have! Helped me choose better rep to challenge all players in my groups.
- Motivation starts with positive talk from the director. Use the oreo method. Give them a “cookie” followed by improvement or criticism, followed by a “cookie”. Be polite always, say thanks and please, and students will do same.
- Stop rewarding notes and rhythms and start rewarding tone and blending.
- Talk less, play more.
- When you stop the band during rehearsal, keep your instruction short and to the point. Less is more.
Ask for Help
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from your colleagues!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Keep your ears open and mouth shut. Invite veteran band directors into your classroom. Be open to new ideas of rehearsing. Strive to be better everyday.
- Shut up and learn.
- Evaluation without judgement: evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and make a plan from there without judging yourself for being where you are.
- Get your head out of the music and the music into your head.
- Go after your deficiencies and make them your strengths.
- Take time to view other directors working, take ideas from all over.
- The grass is greener where you water.
- Family comes first. I love all the aspects of band and I can easily put those things in front of my family. But the reality is, when band is gone, I’ll still have my family. I only get 18 years with my kids and if I put band in front for the majority of that time, I’ve missed the greatest opportunity to make an impact in life.
- Set boundaries on your time…otherwise this job is all-consuming (note: I struggle with this advice 25 years into my career)
- Stay open and forward-focused. Don’t get stuck in problems/negativity/current reality.
- Be yourself, not the person you think you need to be. Don’t try to be someone else.
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