Beginning band pull out advice
January 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm #34435
I have a situation that I would like some professional input on. I have previously taught band at the beginning level, but have taught elementary general music, grades K-4, for the last few years. My school will most likely change configuration next year and keep 5th grade, and 6th grade the next. This presents a challenge because band and orchestra is currently taught at 5/6 centers in the rest of the district, so this means that “our” kids will not have a ready made schedule and teacher for band and strings. I have the room in my schedule to create a program for 5th next year, and 6th the following year, but I want to best meet the needs of kids in a way that I know admin will approve. What are your thoughts on a 5th grade pull out, where 5th graders joining band/orchestra would participate in a pull out program, getting an individual or small group lesson 20-30 minutes once a week. I am qualified to teach band, but not strings, but I thought if I could get a plan for band on paper, I could spin it to the orchestra teachers in the district and get their thoughts. I don’t want to create a situation where kids have to choose between band and general vocal music, because I want to support all of the upper level programs, and so many kids want to continue with choir and band in middle school.January 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm #34645
I teach Middle School 6, 7, 8. I set the lessons up so that small group lessons are on the same day every week. I then rotate the day. Week one I see them period 1, week 2 period 2 and so fourth. In a good year I will have a 6 week rotation. A student misses a given class no mere than once every six weeks. It is a weak arguement that says missing math once out of 30 meetings lowers a grade. If a student has a test the period he/she is supposed to come they take the test first. They always check in to give homework and get the days assignment before coming to lesson.
This method has worked well since I thought it up 25 years ago. I am sure others use it as well or have good ideas. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if I can answer any questions.
RobJanuary 28, 2014 at 11:09 am #34688
Thank you, I do appreciate your input!January 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm #34690
I am a music education major at Kent State University, and we have discussed the pull-out method for younger students in my methods courses this past semester. I was just wondering if you could provide me with some more insight as to how exactly your program works. Do you typically meet with all woodwinds and all brass in separate periods? Or do you split up the periods so you only work with one section during their small group lesson times? Also, how have you found the pull-out method to be more effective than having a large group rehearsal? I understand how pulling students out in the beginning stages of learning music can make it easier on both the students and the teacher, but how does this effect their large ensemble playing as whole in the long run? Or does it not? I have never heard of a pull-out method until this year, and I am very intrigued by the idea behind it. As music programs are being cut, I feel this is a possible situation I will be faced with when I am teaching in the public schools. If you could provide me with any insight on your program, I would greatly appreciate it!
Thanks so much!
SammyFebruary 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm #34949
I agree with Rob and started using a “rotating” schedule this year for my pull out 5th grade lessons and the classroom teachers love it! I also find that the students are more responsible in making sure that they know when their lesson is so they show up on time. I have never been in a situation (as a student or teacher) where there were not pull out lessons, in fact I had pull out lessons from 5-12 grade when I grew up. I have like instrument groups for 30 minutes and than once a week we have a group rehearsal before or after school for 50 minutes. At one of my schools I had two 20 minute lessons a week which was wonderful because you were able to reinforce and address issues before they became habits.
Sammy – you had a lot of questions, but in general it makes the whole experience better. You don’t have to try teach individual instrument skills in a large group rehearsal than and you can concentrate on ensemble skills. I have taught in three different districts and each one of them did things slightly differently, but pull out lessons are truly the way to go.February 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm #34963
Thank you Bailey. Sammy, I usually break the kids into like instrument groups and try to keep the numbers between 4 and 8. Beginners are scheduled seperate from more advanced players. I almost never have brass and woodwind together. If I do it is usually something like tenor sax with euphonium, Bari sax with tuba. This year I have Alto, Tenor and Bari in one lesson and it is working well. I have three sections of percussion. All three do keyboard and battery. I also rotate people through parts in each piece. Everyone plays snare, keyboards, timp., bass etc. through the year.
I am selective with percussion. Only 6 of the 14 “percussionists” are in Band (I should note here that this year I am doing sixth grade only). They will be brought into Band when they can read eighth notes annd rests, play a steady bass drumm line and play a simple tune on marimba/xylo. without watching (I was a percussion minor) their handstoo much. Some of them still can not name the lines and spaces of the G clef. While I am on the percussion rant, I find that they are often ignored in elementary school to the point where they can not even hold a pair of (if the own them) sticks properly. For some it is difficult to have to do work.
I think the small group pull outs make a big difference. The best part to me is establishing a relationship rather than the the music. With a good relationship in a safe enviorment the kids are more willing to take a risk and seem to work harder.
I still have Band rehearsal in addition to the once a week lesson. We meet every other day for a full period. The lessons are also a full period about 50 minutes. I know I have a good situation but it did take years of work from the entire music department and a superintendent who saw the value of what we do. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call 860-885-8382 if I can answer any more questions. The last is for everyone not just Sammy!
RobFebruary 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm #34964
That sounds familiar to what I do as well Rob.
“While I am on the percussion rant, I find that they are often ignored in elementary school to the point where they can not even hold a pair of (if the own them) sticks properly. For some it is difficult to have to do work.”
– I can understand where this is coming from, but I have found that Percussionists are a special breed. I definitely do not ignore them, I teach Elementary, and I don’t even let them play snare/bass… until they can play page 14 in their book on the bells. Than we start adding in the other percussion instrument. They are so fixed on being the next rock drummer that they forget everything once they start the “drums.” Things that they were doing easily they can no longer do because the “drum” consumes them. It may not be totally their fault or the Elementary directors fault, but it is an issue I have not been able to conquer yet.February 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm #34968
Rob and Bailey,
Thank you so much for the responses and the insight!
It seems like you have an excellent program/schedule on your hands! I really love how you approach working with your young percussionists. While I am a flutist, I grew up in a family with percussionists. When working with percussionists, I have found 98% of them cannot read music on the treble clef staff unless they are taking private lessons. I think it is great that you have requirements before allowing them to participate in band. There are simply too many instruments and techniques that get overlooked on a daily basis in the band room for the percussion section.
Thanks again for all the help! I’ll be sure to contact you if I have any more questions!March 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm #83625
I teach in Delaware at a K-8 Charter School where we have pull-out scheduling for band; while I would definitely agree that there is a benefit to being able to work with specific instrument groups, the challenging part for me is not seeing students every day. If I saw my band students every day, I could almost guarantee that each student would have at least 5 consecutive days of effective practicing on his/her instrument. My sectionals/lessons run about 30 to 45 minutes in length; at the start, I focus on instrument assembly, posture, hand position, forming an embouchure and making a tone, and performing the first 5 notes of the Concert B-flat Scale. I use the book Traditon of Excellence that comes with a DVD/CD; I have all the band parents on an email list, and I email parents weekly as to what video lessons students should be watching and also what specific concepts that students need to practice. There are many students who I can look at/listen to and tell that they are practicing in the manner which I explain to them and their parents; even still, I have some students who quite obviously don’t practice enough, or don’t practice the right way despite my communication to parents. I have a system in place that dictates that students don’t move up to the next level until specific requirements are met. Any other thoughts/advice from those who have taught band with a pull-out schedule? Thanks!
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