Mandatory or Optional
Posted 17 April 2007 - 09:08 PM
I have a small band of about 40 kids. We are one band - everyone does marching and concert, everything is graded. I have to infuse marching band into the during-the-school day rehearsals. Besides that, there are 2 band classes and I see half the band at a time - the only time I see the full group is when I do an after school rehearsal. That becomes seasonal, marching in the fall, concert band just before a concert. I am also in a larger urban high school, rough school, my kids are a little rough, and still establishing myself as the band director. Also, I don't have the most supportive administration. I partially exist at the behest of the athletic deparment. I have pushed the boundaries, going to competitions this year but forced to work around the football schedule.
I've come to the conclusion that marching band should not be mandatory - however I can not change that rule because my supervisor wants it mandatory and also I probably don't have enough kids to let it be optional. Of course I don't have total control to dock their grades. If they miss rehearsal because of a school activity I can not penalize them, but other reasons I can. (My situation as described above as well as other problems is making me think about changing schools, despite it being my second year there).
Not to complain but I would like to know what people feel about marching band being optional or mandatory? I feel by letting it be optional and separating concert and marching band it allows for more control over each group.
So basically what do you think?
Posted 19 April 2007 - 08:01 AM
Congratulations on your 2nd year there, and so quickly doing the competition thing. I can understand your frustration. When I first started at the job I'm at now, there were 74 students in the band program. At that time, you had to be in marching band and concert band or you were not allowed in the program. In time, I was able to change that and the band has grown to over 130 members in 5 years. Yes, the marching band does not have all of those students, we march approx. 110. With this change in policy, students feel more comfortable being a part of the band program, and not letting it dominate their lives.
In regards to your question of grades...the marching band meets during the 1st 9 weeks of school, and the concert band only kids sit and watch rehearsals. To justify their grades, once a week we have concert band rehearsal during school time, they must also have shown through parental verified practice charts, and the students must complete a writing project that is band related. (instrument research, composer bio, etc).
It's important to remember that only 1/3 of the school year is the marching band, and 2/3 of the year is concert band. If someone can't do the marching band because of job issues, or fall sports, we don't want them to leave the program completely!
Good luck in the future!
Warren Local Bands
Director of Bands, Warren Local Schools
Professor of Trumpet, Marietta College
Posted 19 April 2007 - 09:42 AM
Thank you for sharing. I am working on changing that rule - the problem lies in that my supervisor disagrees with me, and because of neccessity. We only have about 45 kids and I'm not sure how many would not do marching if given the choice.
Honestly I wonder if it would work the other way around. I wonder who would not do Concert Band if given the choice. Unfortunatly, the problem with that becomes that Marching Band is only 1/3 of the school year. Of course scheduling is a major problem - the split Band class sucks! It is very problematic to get everyone into one Band period.
I have been brainstorming some suggestions as to how would be the best way to get most out of what I have to work with. One plan of action would be this:
- Everyone must take Band for credit. To get the credit you must participate in the following:
- Marching Band and one of the following options
- Concert Band during the school day as a class
- Your choice of two ensembles for which you are qualified: Jazz Band, Pit Band (for the musical), and/or the County Wide Band
- Then to fill in the Concert Band, allow qualified students who do not participate in during-the-day Concert Band to attend only a few rehearsals prior to the Concert.
I know Band scheduling is problematic no matter where you are but I am trying my best to find a workable solution. Right now the kids who can not get into a scheduled Band rehearsal during-the-school-day have to take this thing called Independent Study. This also means I make them come up at lunch to rehearse with us then.
Thank you for any and all adivice you can give me!
Posted 23 May 2007 - 02:25 PM
The kids desired competition (the band diddn't compete previously) and though some kids can't do band because it takes up too much time to go with other activities (i share kids with all sports though), I have a MUCH more solid core group of students. The program has grown, yes in numbers, but more so in character and maturity.
I HIGHLY suggest you keep them connected in some way---but first get the situation settled so you have all your band kids in class at the same time!