Da Capo: Starting the First Year, Part 2

Part 2: Creating Routines and Order

As your year starts, you’ll be eager to get to the music making that you’ve looked forward to during your training. Before you start, though, lay down some ground rules and procedures in line with school procedures that will keep your classroom activities flowing smoothly. “Be diligent and consistent,” advises member Michael V. Smith. He advises considering the following as you plan for the year:

  • Attendance procedures
  • Hall pass routines
  • Absence policies (for class periods, rehearsals, and performances)
  • What happens when a student forgets an instrument or comes to school with a hoarse or lost voice
  • Discipline policies and classroom rules
  • Grading procedures and policies
  • Performance schedules and expectations
  • Movement throughout the room (coming in, setting up, getting music, warming up, tuning, packing up)
  • Handling instruments and other equipment

Another thing to remember as you plan is that students are going to test everything from your limits of patience to your expertise. “They need and want to know that you mean business and that you can be trusted. Be prepared, be organized, be consistent, be purposeful, and you will quickly move from surviving to thriving in your new classroom,” says Smith.
This article has been adapted from “Small Steps for Big Beginnings: Some Practical Advice for Getting the First Year Started” by Michael V. Smith, originally featured in the January 2006 issue of NewsLink.


–Shauna Leavitt,  September 3, 2008, © National Association for Music Education