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Once a month I try to veer away from the method book a little bit or mix things up, even if it’s just for a small portion of my class. We do mixed up seating so that students have to sit next to someone on a different instrument so they learn about listening and balance, I’ll arrange an extremely short and simple version of some rock or pop tune they will get really into (We Will Rock You, Ice Ice Baby, etc), bring in some listening to connect them to the music they are playing (Dixieland jazz, big band, marching band), or play some jazz combo background music to do some simple improvisation over. Short percussion activities can be a lot of fun and help for rhythm teaching. Kids also get really into making recordings of themselves, listening, talking about it, trying to fix the problem on a second recording, etc….email the recording to a favorite teacher, principal, or parents and they’ll put some extra effort in!

During the very first rehearsals, when you are still playing repeated whole note exercises, putting some hip hop or drum line beats on in the background can make the boring exercises seem more fun.

What I’ve found to be really helpful to get kids excited, especially for sports obsessed students – you can find a collegiate marching band field show for almost anything, and this gets kids really excited because they see these marching bands as very cool parts of college football and basketball. If you can find a marching band video on YouTube for a song you are working on (I’ve used it for Louie, Louie and Bugler’s Dream at the end of year one) they will get really into it. Even just finding a cool marching band performance of a pop or rock song will get kids excited, regardless of whether or not they will be playing the song as well.

Good luck! I love beginning band, it’s so fun to see the huge amount of progress that happens over the year.