What do you think?
- This topic has 12 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 3 months ago by nafmeadmin.
August 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm #11496
Has anybody else ever been in this situation? I teach at a small private school. I have noticed that when given the choice, students tend to prefer choir over band. That means that the choir has 50 students and the band may have 16. It’s one of those situations you have to wonder, is it something that I did? I understand that you will always lose a certain number of kids, but still wonder what I can do better to alleviate the situation. Part if may also be the inconsistency of teachers. What can I do to help alleviate the situation?August 28, 2012 at 9:57 am #11547
I think chorus is less of a committment than band. In a kids mind, all they have to do is show up to chorus, empty handed. For band, you have to learn to play an instrument which takes a long time and may cost money to their family. I doubt it is anything you did! Its a struggle for us all!September 1, 2012 at 9:04 am #11812
Is there any opportunity for students to take both chorus and band? My best choral students were also in the band. What grade levels are you teaching? Students should not have to make a choice until they get to high school.September 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm #11851
I experience the same thing and my students have the choice to take both although they wouldn’t get any of the other exploratories (gym, computers, art, etc) I agree with carrollt200. It is less of a time committment. They just want to show up, sing pop songs, and that’s it. I know in my neck of the woods, the kids want to do as little as possible to get by. It’s very sad.September 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm #12001
I think the trend of doing as little as possible is a trend everywhere. It’s just the overall work ethic. The students do have the opportunity to take both band and choir now at our school, which they like. Even giving students such as eighth graders the opportunity to do jazz band and pep band does not seem to work. They tend to shy away from it, some because it is before school in the morning (jazz band). At the high school level, which is probably where students have the most opportunities, they can do jazz band and pep band. The high school band also takes a trip to a college football game to join with a marching band, as well as having social activities and getting their own t-shirt. These are some new things that I have put in place for this year, such as having officers and more performances such as playing at soccer games (we do not do football, so soccer is our thing). I have at least successfully recruited one new high school student this year (who is playing oboe and has been taking private lessons), who is doing a fine job. I think it is something that just does not happen in 1-2 years time.September 21, 2012 at 9:13 am #12550
It costs money to buy or rent an instrument, while being in choir is free. From 4th to 6th grade, my kids are required to be in band. In 7th they can change to choir if they choose to. Every year I lose a few kids this way, and when I’ve asked them, they say the main reason is because they can’t afford to keep renting an instrument (much less buy one).September 21, 2012 at 9:41 am #12552
I teach 5 – 8 grade band and chorus. (yes, a band guy that has been put in to do double duty) and I find that students gravitate towards chorus because they don’t think it takes as much work as band. I am also teaching in a rural low socio-economic area (for 25 years) and I have seen a definite decline in the value that parents put on the arts as part of their children’s learning. Add to that I am scheduled against gym and you see why my numbers are low. Ugh!September 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm #13078
It does tend to be easier to “just sing” than to learn a new instrument. There is also an easy commaraderie — singing in the halls or recess, etc — to choir. Not so easy to do with instruments. Try implementing a few non-playing things to increase the sense of belonging. Every year, I do class t-shirts, for example. Also, create some small ensembles, if possible. Good luck.October 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm #13419
Unfortunately, it is true. Kids do want to get away with doing as little as possible to get by. How about we give them the motivation to try something new and improve upon it? You could try grabbing students interest by doing a day where they can come into the music room (maybe after school or before?) and look at the instruments, try playing a note on the instruments, and hear the instruments performed on by advance players. Why not use the internet or other audio/video tools for the kids to hear and see the instruments at the professional level. I remember when my band teacher let us look at instruments. When I got a note out of the flute when no one else could, I was hooked because I could do what others couldn’t. Students might need more than an invitation. They might need some motivation via exposure or, in my case, success! You may need to ask some of your nearby friends to come in and give their help with the instruments. Or maybe a group of nearby college music ed. students?
Here’s an idea, why not try to incorporate singing in your band rehearsals? If there’s an interest for singing, take advantage of it because all musicians will benefit from the ability. If its the pop songs that attracts kids, maybe arrange some for band! 🙂
Hope some of this helps.
Current Music Ed majorJanuary 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm #18471
If you are really wondering about your choir teacher’s methods… why don’t you find out for yourself? See if there is anything different or out of the ordinary in the teaching style or presentation of the material that you can glean from. There is always more room to improve, and sometimes worthy teaching ideas can be sitting in your own backyard! Talk to your choir teacher.. make a lunch date, talk in the hall, or observe their class if you get a chance. Any good program can always be expanded and made better. This could be a chance to make improvements you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Also, low numbers does not have to mean low quality. I’ve know bands that were your size, and were able to win competitions and awards over bands twice and three times their size. Make the most of what you have, and don’t underestimate your students. There is more potential than meets the eye, if you’re willing to look for it.January 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm #19150
Students may tend to join choir more than band due to cost and work ethic, and taking home a tuba to practice is a lot more difficult than singing your part at home. In today’s classroom, students feel the pressure to take the hardest classes, be involved in numerous activities, and find time for a social life. Getting an arts requirement that does not involve hauling home a tuba or violin to practice sixteenth notes and offbeats seems like the better solution.
No matter the reasons, perhaps it would be better to focus on how to get students interested in performing in the band. Do a flash mob. Perform a pop number during spirit week. Play a jazz number at the concert. Get your students out into the community. Have students compose music for the band, and perform those compositions. Find out what your students are interested in, and try to implement those interests into the classroom as best you can.February 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm #21217
I’m going to go ahead and raise the scapegoat flag. Calling most students lazy, unmotivated, or only wanting immediate gratification or the easy road is a scapegoat. I have been teaching for nine years in a suburban elementary school, general music, band and chorus, and I have found that students will work very hard when they believe in what they are doing and when they enjoy what they are doing. My band students work HARD and they are normal kids. They stay in band because they enjoy playing instruments, have identity with the group, and they get personal fulfillment from being in the group. If you have many students leaving band for chorus take a hard look at how the group is run. Are your lessons engaging and performance based? Are the kids successful? Are there clear expectations? Are they making progress? (that last one is especially important, because nothing drives students away like frustration). Do students learn to set personal goals? Do you have the students develop goals for the band, so they are unifying and working together towards common goals? Now go look at the choral program. Are they fulfilling students’ needs in a way the band isn’t?
These are hard questions, and it’s very hard to put ego aside to take a hard look at reality. But it may be worth it to turn around your program.March 1, 2013 at 10:26 am #21342
tellyerr makes good points. I work at a small private school, too. While I do lose some kids to choir, I do retain a lot. The way I see it, some kids feel happy on instruments and prefer to stay. And they also do not feel comfortable singing. Or even if they do, they would rather play than sing. Some kids are band kids; some kids are not.
At the same time, I work hard to use music that the kids will enjoy playing. I always program a wide variety of styles, and never repeat the same style in one year. So we play a rock/pop piece, a jazz piece, a classical piece, a folk piece, and a Broadway/TV/film piece. Sometimes we’ll do a novelty piece, too. Every year we play different titles–we never repeat anything. And I make sure they’re quality arrangements. (Last year we did Korean Folk Rhapsody and Deep River. The kids loved them, saying they were “awesome!”–which they did not say about the rock and pop pieces.)
I also make the band room a welcoming place with lots of colorful posters. I bought a supply of comfortable fabric chairs to replace the metal folding chairs they had to sit on. I let them come up with creative names for their cubbies where they keep their horns, and make colorful, creative name tags to apply. I found a second-hand sousaphone and tuba for cheap and keep them on display in the back of the band room, so that they are the first things you see when you walk into the room. This gives the place a playful look.
Mostly, I do my best to let the students know they are valuable and that the group depends upon every single kid to sound good. I don’t let anyone slip through without paying their parts correctly. Everyone is required to play a certain number of scales as solos in front of the group. When I first started this, I thought kids would balk and be afraid. Turns out it’s become a friendly competition amongst them and a great self-esteem builder.
Lastly, the most common word you’ll hear in my band room is “Bravo.” I give credit where credit is due.
So I think it’d be good to look in your own backyard and see if there might be things that you haven’t thought of that are keeping kids from staying in band. Or at least things you could start doing to make the band a more attractive place to be.
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