Too Many Skill Levels In One Band. Can I Make It Work?
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I am teaching 7-12 grade band. There are 25 students in this group, with playing experience from 6 months to 8 years. We meet for a 23 minute rehearsal every day (yes, that is twenty-three minutes 🙁 I’m trying to figure out how to get them ready for the Holiday Concert and have them learning at the same time. Trouble is that I don’t know how to write the objectives as I really need to teach 4 objectives at the same time for each level. When I pass out easier music, the older kids get bored, and likewise when I pass out harder music, the less experienced get frustrated and I’m afraid they will drop out. Does anyone have a similar situation that they can advise? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks.
To effectively teach these varied levels will require some out of the box thinking. The time thing is kind of ridiculous and I don’t know exactly how to help you with your objectives other than making them broad enough to cover everyone, but here are a few suggestions that might work:
1. Small group work: divide your students into groups based on ability/#years playing experience. Your more advanced players may be able to work more independently on a given task or melody while you circulate to those with less experience. You can give smaller chunks to the middle level players and while those groups are working with occasional check-ins from you, you can really work with your near-beginners on fingerings, reading skills, etc.
2. Small group work take two: sectionals: divide your students into like instrument groups regardless of ability. Designate a section leader whose job is to review note names and fingerings, mentor those who have less playing experience, etc.
3. Work with your music: in this situation, I would go with the students who are at the higher ability spectrum and try to write parts for the less experienced players so the group can play as an ensemble. For example, your most advanced players can play something that keeps them interested and challenged while you write a counter melody or skeleton melody (changing 16th note runs to 8th note runs or even quarter notes) and even a simple ostinato (repeated pattern) that fits in for the beginners.
Hope these ideas work for you!
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