Administration not seeing eye to eye
January 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm #34712
I had a conversation with my administrator the other day and they basically told me that band was “fun”. They do not understand policies on lesson attendance, concert attendance, making sure that students practice weekly (getting graded on lesson material assigned). As long as I have great concerts, they are happy. They are looking at numbers rather than quality. They even told me that I should do a concert with all movie music, then another with music from musicals. I think these things have their place, but I’m frustrated that my administrator is not seeing that my job is to educate these kids, so they can be competent musicians when they graduate. How would you go about working with their philosophy?January 31, 2014 at 10:07 am #34718
Two approaches have worked for me.
1. They have hired you to teach and now they are telling you to babysit. Show the NAFME standards and talk about what successful programs bring to schools. If there is a successful program in nearby town use them as an example.
2.Get parents and students to use their voice to support the program you want to build. Get them on board and empower them to contact administration about what they would like in a music program.February 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm #34922
Are you or the administrators new the program? What might be at the root of their “suggestions?” I would want to know a little more about their opinions, (for example, are your numbers dropping and they are trying to “fix” it, have they had complaints, etc). There might be nothing to it, but if there is, it might help to know that.February 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm #34947
I would also be interested in the “back story” as far as what brought on his comments.
1. I would agree with him. Yes, band should be “fun!”, BUT just like a sport we must learn the skills necessary to compete and than in the competition (or concert in our case) the fun occurs.
2. I would point out that band is a class and you are trying to give the students, parents, administration and school board their moneys worth of your professional education and training. Pointing out the national standards, and showing your administration how your assignments will make it more “fun” might also help is showing them that music/band/chorus/orchestra is a class.
3. Get suggestions from your other colleagues especially if you are in a large district/building. Talk to the choir/orchestra/general music teachers and get suggestions from them. Or even the classroom teachers.
Something you could try, with the correct preparation and support from colleagues, would be to put on an “informance” instead of a “performance” where you perform music, exercises and demonstrations that demonstrate WHAT you do in band and the journey you take to get a concert ready. I even know a friend who at every concert sight-read a piece of music just so the audience had an understanding of where the ensemble starts from when they have a new piece of music.
I will add that having a piece of movie music is great inspiration for students, but only work on it once they have accomplished everything else you want them to do in the rehearsal.February 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm #34966
I had a student that wanted to drop band. This student had me from beginning band all the way through this year (HS student) with one different teacher in between. Not to dwell on another teacher’s work, but that teacher did not require the student to attend lessons weekly and just let them go to evaluation festival with an unprepared piece (tempos not where they should be, scales not meeting the requirement, musicality not being taught). I expect my students to attend lessons weekly (obviously if we have to make adjustments due to a test, those are made), but this student NEVER came to lessons. I challenged this student on a piece for festival (which they didn’t rise to the challenge). The student told my administrator that they didn’t have fun in band (but they didn’t reach the level of musicality to have fun). They told me that I keep going over parts of music over and over (it’s called rehearsal). I have expectations for students that if they are going to take my course, they need to do the work. I have dropped the level of band music down one level so we can work on musicality, not just barely play notes and rhythms. Eventually, I think the kids will rise to the challenge, it will just take a few years.
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