Hour-long beginning band

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    I’m seeking any wisdom that could be had on the following thought. I’ve got a 6th grade beginning band that meets an hour every day. While it is a blessing to have them for that long, the class seems to begin to unravel about 35-40 minutes into the class. It almost seems like the 55 minutes we are together is really too much for them to handle.

    I’m thinking I need to break things up somehow. Get their attention to switch around some, but I’m not sure how to do that at a time when all they can play are 1-line songs still. I’m not sure if they are at a point where they’re ready for sheet music yet, so I feel stuck in this place.

    Any thoughts?


    Couple ideas from my general music brain:

    Do you have a projector? YouTube videos! Some can be just for fun (but still music related) but there are tons of great video of ensembles.

    Set aside 15 minutes a day to study the different ensembles or instruments a little more indepth.

    SQUILT! Super Quiet Un-Interupted Listening Time. Go through your listening library and have them take the instruments out of their hands, close their eyes and listen! You can make that a time to learn about timbre, distinguishing meter, genres… Sometimes SQUILT is only listening, other times include listening maps, pictures, video, or narration.

    Sight reading for sure. EASY EASY grade 1/2 pieces or short 8 measure chorales. Focus on a specific task: dynamics, blend, rhythm, tone quality…

    Just Dance!! I dont know if this one is feasible in your space, but sometimes they need to get the wiggles out! Even as adults, we need breaks from sitting too long! YouTube Just Dance and you’ll get TONS of easy videos to get them moving.

    You definitely have a gift seeing them everyday for an hour! And its great that you realize it is unrealistic to think they can focus for that long. My advice is to mix up the schedule and throw new things in there so its not monotonous. You also want to make sure that they don’t get bored of the music or they will lose all drive to practice at home. Build their love for ensemble and instruments beyond playing but also listening and studying. You are one of the few band teachers who will really be able to TEACH in rehearsal! Most of us are fighting for every second of time to rehearse and would kill for a few more rehearsals.

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