Beginning band troubles

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  • #121185
    swordofdharma1
    Participant

    I’ve seem to run out of options and I’m asking for everyone’s take on this…

    I teach at an inner city school. I was hired mid-school year last year and we are 5 weeks into this year. I’m trying to get 5th grade students started on band instruments and so I tried to be strategic in showing one section at a time how to get started. However, most of my students rebelled. They acted out because they are impatient. I tried to keep them busy with an alternate easy paper assignment, but they quickly find something else to do (horseplay). We have steps for discipline but many of the kids don’t care anyway. The “higher-ups” suggest that I find something for “all” students to do to keep them busy and engaged. If I redirect one student, then another will try to to disruptive. It begins to start looking like whack-a-mole haha!

    I know a lot of schools are very rigid with procedure but if I attempted such rigidity and structure, I would send probably 90% of my students to detention.

    I do not have a band room. I use the stage which is a part of the gym/lunch room.

    Any suggestions?

    This is only with 5th grade band. I teach 6th grade band and do not incur the same issues.

    #121362
    jpsned
    Participant

    I would assign each student a song to learn. Since they’re young beginners, ask them what their favorite kids’ song is, and then teach them how to play it. Yes, it will take a while to get the right notes, but keep stressing that it’ll be something they themselves will know how to play. Something they can own. And they’ll be able to perform it for everyone else in the class. To make it go easier, have them pair up with their friends and learn the same song. Instruct them to help each other. Let them become the teachers.

    Then when it’s time to perform, the different groups (trumpets, flutes, etc.) can explain to the rest of the class how the song is played on their instrument.

    You can do a lot with the first three notes of the Bb concert scale. If you can get the first five notes, the world of kids’ music will open up as most beginner songs only use those notes. You may also want to avoid looking at the notes on the paper for now, if that’s a distraction. Have them do it by ear and memorize fingerings.

    The idea is to build up their self-esteem, to give them something about which they can say, “I can do this.” For the more disruptive ones, they can say, “Because I can do this, I’m cool.”

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