Very small numbers in a group
January 15, 2014 at 8:38 am #34390
At the middle school level my students are separated into 6th (beginning), 7th and 8th grade band. This is my second year at this school and the 8th graders are remnants of the last few years of the previous teacher. They are very unmotivated and because of it, have dwindled down through their middle school years to only 5 students. In this class I have 1 alto sax, 1 trumpet and three percussionists. While my 6th and 7th are thriving, this is dragging me down and the students who remain are bored and very limited to the music they should play? What could I do this semester to keep them interested and developing for the rest of the year until the can regain some normalcy in high school band?January 15, 2014 at 10:02 am #34392
Does your region have a middle school solo and ensemble festival? Even doing a 5 person percussion ensemble could be a great motivator especially for the wind players.February 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm #35011
This is a wonderful chance to get into alternative ensembles! A trumpet, sax, and percussionists. That sounds to me like a slightly modified jazz band or even a way to incorporate ska. Doing literature for small ensembles can really be beneficial in the sense that they’ll get attention that enormous ensembles miss out on. They may be in a class called concert band, but that doesn’t confine you to only working on concert repertoire. As long as they’re learning music and being challenged, the class is a success! This would be a good chance to get your percussionists (who should have familiarity with mallet percussion) into other keyboard instruments like piano. They could learn how to do simple block chord progressions and the wind players can improvise off of that! They’ll go into high school jazz band ahead of the game and giving the sophomores a run for their money!February 21, 2014 at 12:57 am #35063
I’m on board with what mgerhar5 (hi Matt) has to say; the instrumentation is a really great start on a jazz combo. The percussionists allow for a rotation on set, vibes, and simple piano, giving them all experience in different aspects of percussion playing. The wind players could get an early start on improvisation and simply playing with confidence. The size of the group also allows for a lot of individual focus from you, almost private-lesson level of involvement. How much do the students know about composition? They could very easily compose or arrange their own pieces for this ensemble.
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