6 Kids in band/Don't play/What now?
Tagged: small poor band
August 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm #40892
I have two 7th grade band classes. One has 30 kids, is motivated, exciting and we’re doing great. The other class has 5 kids in it who never learned how to play in 6th grade band and are highly challenged emotionally, mentally and socially in 7th grade. They must like me because they didn’t have to take band!
OK…I’m trying to make this work but it’s stumping me. How do I work with a flute, 2 trumpets, an emotionally disturbed trombonist who can’t take criticism or play…and two drummers?
I’ve structured the class, now a week into the school year, as 15 minutes of them playing individually in different parts of the band room while I come around and coach them individually; 15 minutes of trying to play together…limited success here…and 10 minutes of a music instructional video (because they are mentally exhausted after the first 1/2 hour!).
I don’t mean to sound flippant, but this almost seems like a joke. I want to bring these kids forward, but they made virtually no progress last year and seem to be on the same trajectory this year. HELP!!! Any ideas gratefully accepted. I’ve taught for 15 years and 5 of those were in Special Ed. I have a lot of compassion but I’m really challenged with this situation and not sure how to approach it. Thanks!!September 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm #41344
Hi, so do they not play at all or only have basic skills? – Thanks, RichSeptember 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm #41345
Thanks for asking. They play…a little. We are going over the beginning of Essential Elements Bk. 1 again and have gotten to Lightly Row. I suppose a lot of my frustration comes from how very slow we make progress. I’m not used to trying to come up with all sorts of alternative approaches to learning how to play and feel ill-equipped for it. I am splitting them up for part of the class now, with me rotating around and working 1-on-1 and that seems to be working better.
Would you recommend a method other than Essential Elements that works at a more incremental pace?September 21, 2014 at 8:03 am #41346
I have found most books go about the same pace (Accent on Achievement, Measure of Success, Standard of Excellence, Tradition of Excellence), sometimes if you contact the publisher they’ll send you a perusal copy of usually the clarinet book to see if you like it.
Do you do anything with solfege? Another band director I worked with who was trying it was having great success with it, and once I did I found the kids had success quicker (plus you can solfege cool pep band things they tend to love).
I had a job once where I had to teach beginners (from scratch) as a band (24 kids total) on all different instruments without lessons. (After I freaked out 🙂 I set them up so I could walk around every student to help and would go really slow, sometime only one note at a time, but I would teach everyone what the fingering was, have that instrument try the note and if I had already worked with a couple of sections, they would play along too. Because of the slow turn around I had to arrange reallllly basic music. They played together in parts and I kept my enthusiasm at a maximum so they were uber thrilled, as were their parents, at being able to play.
I hope some of this helps. Every job is unique and if you pace yourself with these 6 and they enjoy it, you’ll have more to work with in no time (and hopefully the support to go along with it.) I am happy to offer any more ideas if I can, good luck!!!September 21, 2014 at 1:34 pm #41348
Thanks, Rich. Keeping enthusiastic is good advice!September 29, 2014 at 2:41 pm #41662
The Ed Sueta band method moves very slowly, I used to use it when I had 3rd grade beginners. It doesn’t get to Hot Cross Buns until lesson 3, and there are also really good rhythm charts in the back. Each lesson has well thought out practice on the skills you will need in the song on that page.October 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm #42043
I have the same issue with a few kids similar to your. I decided to try using the new Sound Innovations book, and it really starts the kids off very slowly. It really gives my special ED students more time and extra practice to learn the basics. For the first 12 exercises they are basically playing whole notes. So it gives me a lot of time to get them playing the correct pitches and fingerings and experience some sort of success.
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