Elementary general music teacher moved to high school band
December 7, 2012 at 1:00 am #16447
I am currently an elementary general music teacher K-5 and even though I am certified Music K-12, I have never even played any band instruments. I play recorder and piano. Due to failed levies, I will probably be moved to the high school to teach band and choir. Does anyone have any advice for me on how I can prepare myself this summer? My move will probably occur next fall for the beginning school year. Thank you.December 7, 2012 at 10:09 am #16449
I would immediately begin taking private lessons on the main band instruments: flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and percussion. You can probably find a local high school band teacher who can teach you. You’ll find a lot of similarities with recorder and the woodwinds. The band director will be able to sympathize with your plight and tell you just enough of what you need to know but not too much.
Are you replacing someone? If so, then that person could be the one who teaches you. And you should talk to this person anyway about how their band program was run, so you know what to expect in the fall.
But I think the most important thing is to attain a basic familiarity with the instruments. If the kids can’t figure out something instrument related, and you can’t, it’s not going to be comfortable.
Another thing you can do is to take a summer course in instrumental conducting. They are often offered at local colleges and universities.December 12, 2012 at 7:56 am #16522
I agree, starting with going over instruments so that you can play them is important. I cant imagine starting out band kids without being able to demonstrate a proper playing position or sound for them. In addition to that, knowing your fingerings is also very important. To me though this is all just the basic level.
The really difficult step is learning to deal with older kids, set up your classroom for success with the right music and discipline and being able to correctly identify problems students are having either playing or behavior and dealing with them quickly and successfully. Absolutly find out what the current teacher is doing, learn all of the tradition and figure out what the kids are used to.December 12, 2012 at 9:10 am #16528
Is your HS band program involving lessons or just ensembles? In my experiences, elementary band is much more INSTRUMENT minded and high school band is ENSEMBLE minded. Most high schoolers know how to play their instrument sufficiently and seek private lessons outside of school if they wish to progress further. I would read some ensemble building books and go out and observe as many different high school ensemble rehearsals as possible. I’ve learn tons more from watching other teachers-way more than any book or course could teach. Check youtube for ensemble rehearsals and even ask to Skype with teachers!
You can make some “cheat sheets” for yourself with instrument tunings, fingerings, transposing, etc. to have handy when questions arise.
One HUGE thing could be to have a good assessment of the level of playing from students that will be continuing next year and try to pre-select some music. Pick music on the easier side for your first semester and know the score inside and out. That will give you more confidence being in an uncomfortable position and it will also give the students confidence that you are striving to give your best.
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