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Ideal High School Program Design?



 
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Croquethed
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:36 am    Post subject: Ideal High School Program Design? Reply with quote

School is starting and I have been thinking back many years to my HS band experience (one group lesson a week, Arban and nothing but Arban from 7th grade on, one 75-minute rehearsal once a week, one 2-hour rehearsal once a week) and what might have led me to enjoy it more.

My HS band director actively denigrated rock, though we did play "Yesterday" for one concert and one called "Soul Explosion." So there was a total disconnect between what I played in band and what I listened to on the Koss headphones at home. Had somebody told me some simple theory on boogie woogie riffs or blues scales, I would have enjoyed it much more. I know some people on here would say they just "listened to what they liked and then learned how to play it," but if you don't know why a 1-3b-4-1 riff works in any key, you won't go far. I know others are more classically-oriented, and would like to know how they might be appealed to.

For those of you who teach in that setting, how would you design an ideal high school band program that touches all the bases, and to what end? Winning competitions? Instilling a lifelong love of playing music in everyone who plays for you?

Broad question, I know, but I find playing is such an integral and restorative part of my day now. How would you instill that sense in a 16-year-old with a lot on his or her plate?
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only teach private lessons, so my perspective is probably not as valid as a full time band director. But I tend to agree with your general premise here, in that it's a good idea to at least expose kids to genres outside of concert band.
I remember the first "Chicago/ Blood Sweat and Tears" rock band (outside of school) I played with as a high school junior. First rehearsal, we were (trying) to play Santana's "Evil Ways", and the guitar guy told me to "take a solo." Of course we had no charts, so I basically stumbled through something in approximately the right key. My point here is that because I had not been exposed to anything in school outside of concert band/orchestra, I really had no clue as to what to do in a less formal, no-written-parts setting.

I understand the pressures on school band directors to put together good concert bands, but at least some exposure to "less formal" genres is something I think kids need.

Brad
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mm55
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was in high school back in the neolithic period (1960's and 1970's), our band director encouraged us to play current rock tunes, and we did tunes by the likes of BST, Chicago, Chase, and even Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix, in football half-time shows. We were also thoroughly schooled in the concert band classics; Holst, Grainger, Vaughan Williams, Sousa, Persichetti, etc. And we did Basie, Ferguson, Hefti, Ellington. and Chase in the big band. Some players did the orchestral repertoire and Broadway musicals as well.

One of the ways we were able to cover such a wide variety was that we did not compete. I never quite understood the idea of high school band as a competitive sport; there's really virtually none of that in the real musical world beyond school. Individual musicians compete for chairs, but musical ensembles rarely compete outside of school.

Some of my school mates went on to tour with major rock bands and world-class big bands, or play with "top six" US symphony orchestras, or as musicians in major recording studios, etc. You can get a really good musical education if you don't have to spend all your time prepping pieces to compete at band festivals.
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I came out of a nationally recognized HS program, which, strangely enough , started in the elementary and jr high programs. (DUH- but a lot of people never get it...)

From the beginning, instrumental music was treated not as some extra, or frill. It would today be considered TAG. I don't think that's possible today, but no one was kept around very long if they 1. didn't have a fairly high degree of musical aptitude, or 2. didn't practice outside of class and lessons and would drag the rest down. Again, this probably isn't possible in most public ed settings any longer...

So, continuing with why the program was good- fundamentals and practice, along with a large number of outstanding teachers. Nearly everyone who taught in the program, 5-12, was a performing musician of some sort. 2 high schools, 5 jr highs and I have no idea how many elementary bldgs. The vast majority of jr high students studied privately on their own parent's dime and everyone in the HS did likewise. The school system also provided every student some sort of individual lesson each week as well, but the bulk came from the paid instructors outside of school.

Anyway, with nearly all teachers on staff who could and did play as well as teach, a firm and uncompromising emphasis on fundamentals and the insistence on home practice to remain a part of the program, it is hard to imagine a "loser". We did not, BTW, enter state large group contests, rather, we, along with the other city HS and 2 other exceptional programs in the SE part of the state would hire a top name person to come in each year and work the 4 combined bands in a festival concert. The orchestra and choral programs did likewise. It was a different era, it would still work today, but it's doubtful any public ed institution would be able to pull something off today where the emphasis was on the exceptional (here, meaning absolute best) students rather than pander to the lowest common denominator. Good luck.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig Swartz wrote:
I came out of a nationally recognized HS program, which, strangely enough , started in the elementary and jr high programs. (DUH- but a lot of people never get it...)

From the beginning, instrumental music was treated not as some extra, or frill. It would today be considered TAG. I don't think that's possible today, but no one was kept around very long if they 1. didn't have a fairly high degree of musical aptitude, or 2. didn't practice outside of class and lessons and would drag the rest down. Again, this probably isn't possible in most public ed settings any longer...

So, continuing with why the program was good- fundamentals and practice, along with a large number of outstanding teachers. Nearly everyone who taught in the program, 5-12, was a performing musician of some sort. 2 high schools, 5 jr highs and I have no idea how many elementary bldgs. The vast majority of jr high students studied privately on their own parent's dime and everyone in the HS did likewise. The school system also provided every student some sort of individual lesson each week as well, but the bulk came from the paid instructors outside of school.

Anyway, with nearly all teachers on staff who could and did play as well as teach, a firm and uncompromising emphasis on fundamentals and the insistence on home practice to remain a part of the program, it is hard to imagine a "loser". We did not, BTW, enter state large group contests, rather, we, along with the other city HS and 2 other exceptional programs in the SE part of the state would hire a top name person to come in each year and work the 4 combined bands in a festival concert. The orchestra and choral programs did likewise. It was a different era, it would still work today, but it's doubtful any public ed institution would be able to pull something off today where the emphasis was on the exceptional (here, meaning absolute best) students rather than pander to the lowest common denominator. Good luck.


Today kids are taught it is safer to fit in rather than stand out.
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late 60's and early 70's high school. Performance groups were concert band, jazz big band, marching band and pep band. Classes included theory from basic to advanced. Also offered was rock-jazz class with exposure to everything. We competed only in marching band and traveled the US based on our reputation and promotion. We played for professional football games as well as the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York. Our director encouraged us to go to see all kinds of performances and took us to see great jazz players. It felt like being a music major in a junior college. Most of us were also in our own bands performing for money on the outside. HS kids in bars playing for money. I don't think that would be allowed now. No one ever said anything about it.
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bnsd
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is important to find music that inspires the kids. My elementary program was VERY basic, and I had no middle school program.

High school consisted of marching band and wind ensemble. A friend of a friend knew I played trumpet and hooked me up with a Chicago cover band (when Chicago was top40)... he didn't know the difference between trombone and trumpet. It was eye opening... wait; I have to learn music by listening? and write it down if I want to remember it? I was SO glad I stuck it out.

Junior year opened up Orchestra and Stage Band for me, and varied my repertoire a lot. As I found different musicians that inspired me (Maurice Andre, Jon Faddis, Arturo, etc) I developed a whole new passion for music.

I think high school kids especially need to be inspired... teach them Uptown Funk or any of the other Bruno Mars tunes. Team up with the choir to do more popular stuff like lady gaga. Ask for some suggestions... wind instruments can be added to any music. For trumpet players: Cheerleader and Love yourself. Good tunes of halfway recent hits, and in a key that is worth working on.

Stifling kids with marches and Kentucky 1800 is not doing what music is supposed to do (in my feeble mind)
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Croquethed
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig Swartz, interesting observation on the nearly ubiquitous extra private instruction.

That never would have entered my parents' mind. Music education was something the public school system, which was considered quite good at the time, was expected to provide. There was simply no thought or money reserved for private anything lessons - be that music, golf, skiing, or what have you. Mind you, my folks knew nothing about music other than that my Mom loved Glenn Miller, so they would not have known if the schools were falling short or not. And I guess you could say that practicing Arban for 4 years straight certainly helped with fundamentals but I sure as heck didn't have much fun, so I certainly wasn't clamoring to take more lessons that, as far as I knew, would be more drudgery. So at the point I had to go with the either/or of band or soccer, I went soccer.

I wonder if there is/was some kind of feedback loop in your schools. You were a powerhouse because the kids and teachers went above and beyond and the kids went above and beyond because you were a powerhouse.
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in a mostly industry based area that encompassed both Iowa and Illinois. There seemed to be a very healthy and energetic support for all things music in the entire Quad Cities area at that time. The program had been going full bore by the time I entered into it, but one of the things that probably helped was as I noted in my first post- the program was not going after any and everybody, they were very picky in their selection and maintained the standards no matter whose kid was concerned, or who the parent was. That'd be tough today, the administrators above the teacher would fold at the first phone call and things would spiral down into the abyss that public ed is now in nearly every community.

As per my own personal experience- my father was a skilled trades person with no music background, my mother a home maker until all 6 of us were off to school, but she had some schooling in music, particularly opera. She was not a singer but was taken to events as an older child and I think the whole thing fascinated her. She insisted each of us play an instrument, take lessons and go at least through HS. The first 3 of us were cool with it but how the hell they got my 3 younger brothers to stick it out I'll never know. But the thing is- if they weren't good enough to make the standards, they'd have been washed out. I have to remind a couple of them that point when they talk about not learning anything in Band during school. I'm not sure how things are over there now, but even when I was performing with the very fine regional orchestra there right out of undergrad, I felt the community provided more support, as per audience size, than does where I am now.
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Billy B wrote:
Today kids are taught it is safer to fit in rather than stand out.


Hey- I found that also to be the case during the last 10 years as a teacher in the district "Where The First Word IS DUH". A lot like the old commie regimes where the first people they killed off were the ones that actually knew something. Having real experience makes one dangerous to those who don't...
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having real experience makes one dangerous to those who don't...
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