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Ponderings About Collegiate Trumpet Programs


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Trumpetingbynurture
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Joined: 18 Nov 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
We had a band director in my hometown for about 5 years when I was growing up who came into a strong program and turned it into an absolute powerhouse. Keep in mind, this is a high school of roughly 200 kids. At one point the band had about 100 kids, and it was untouchable in a 4-5 state area. This director left after my 6th grade year, so I didn't get to partake in that glory, but I've talked to some people who were in it at its heyday, and they said that going to the All-State and some of the other notable honor bands was actually a letdown because simply put, their everyday high school band was better.


For someone with a background in IT, you're making a lot of "this proves X" kinds of assertions based on a not great understanding of probability and statistics.

There are so many confounds involved in your example that it's impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. Those 5 years could have been merely an outlier event. Or there's about 20 other possible explanation.
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trickg
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Joined: 02 Jan 2002
Posts: 5266
Location: Glen Burnie, Maryland

PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trumpetingbynurture wrote:
Quote:
We had a band director in my hometown for about 5 years when I was growing up who came into a strong program and turned it into an absolute powerhouse. Keep in mind, this is a high school of roughly 200 kids. At one point the band had about 100 kids, and it was untouchable in a 4-5 state area. This director left after my 6th grade year, so I didn't get to partake in that glory, but I've talked to some people who were in it at its heyday, and they said that going to the All-State and some of the other notable honor bands was actually a letdown because simply put, their everyday high school band was better.


For someone with a background in IT, you're making a lot of "this proves X" kinds of assertions based on a not great understanding of probability and statistics.

There are so many confounds involved in your example that it's impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. Those 5 years could have been merely an outlier event. Or there's about 20 other possible explanation.

What a load of CRAP! Because an athletic coach can never make or break a team, right? Professional sports empires rise and fall based on who the coach is and their knowledge about how to get the best out of a team. Why would it be any different at the high school level with a band program?

My wife has been an exceptional and high-performing 3rd grade teacher for about 3 decades now. With the program called "First In Math" her class was the top 3rd grade class in the nation for several years running. Not the county. Not the state. In THE NATION. The nation - understand? I suppose that's just an aberration too, right? It's not - she knows very how to push and motivate the kids to work hard, do well, and to achieve. Her assessment math scores have consistently been at or very near the top in the county for decades.

If you put high expectations on students, they will rise to meet them - that's just the way it is. This band director went on to another school in Kansas where he did the exact same thing - took a program and built it into a powerhouse in a relatively short amount of time. That's not a statistical anomaly - that's pretty strong evidence that this man knew how to motivate kids to achieve.

Of course we're talking 30-40 years ago - without specific data points, it's anecdotal, but I'm quite certain that the data would back my assertions. ALL kids have the capability to achieve if pushed and motivated. They may not all get to a point where they could go and play professionally, but at a high school level it makes the difference between a high school band program being mediocre or having it be exceptional.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my knowledge of analyzing trends in the data.
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Crazy Finn
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Joined: 27 Dec 2001
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
We had a lot of kids go through my school band program and come out on the other side as very solid players, all without individual private instruction.

We had a band director in my hometown for about 5 years when I was growing up who came into a strong program and turned it into an absolute powerhouse. Keep in mind, this is a high school of roughly 200 kids. At one point the band had about 100 kids, and it was untouchable in a 4-5 state area. This director left after my 6th grade year, so I didn't get to partake in that glory, but I've talked to some people who were in it at its heyday, and they said that going to the All-State and some of the other notable honor bands was actually a letdown because simply put, their everyday high school band was better.

How can this be? How can this be in a town of 2000 people and a high school of just 200 kids and without any private instructors to be had? How can this be if what you assert above is true?

The reason is simple - there was a very high expectation, and kids worked to meet it. It didn't come without casualties. While I'm sure this would be frowned upon in this day and age of "every child is special and deserves a trophy," this director would start to weed out kids starting in around middle school. He never forced a kid to quit, but he would pull certain students aside and suggest that maybe band wasn't their thing.

The rest of it? Practice and hard work at home. Knowing how an instrument should sound, and knowing how a musical line should sound are actually relatively simple concepts, especially when there are other kids in the program who are doing it correctly.

There are going to be kids who just don't get it, but for those who are going to actually go somewhere with it, they likely already have it in themselves to be able to figure it out on their own with the resources available to them.

You don't need individual instruction or a private teacher. You just need someone with a CLUE to provide guidance. That can be a band director - even without lessons.

In one system I taught, we had weekly 20-30 minute lessons with 1-3 students at a time. Needless to say, this was a good environment for developing good players.

In another system I taught, I taught sectionals with 8-12 students for 25 minutes once a week. There was basically no individual instruction, but I could go over the basics of making a sound, articulation, and such and hear them do it, for 15 seconds, individually.

In other system, I just taught band, minimal lessons, but I could still give a little instruction to students.

This is all I'm talking about. Someone who has a clue. Someone who can get kids started correctly, more or less, and give them a suggestion in the right direction. This can allow your DIY approach to take shape, with high expectations.

But, if you just hand a kid a horn and tell them to go at it, with nothing else - who the heck knows how it'll turn out. I've seen it, it's not pretty. Sometimes it works, but it's a total coin flip. That's real DIY and it's not good, usually.

Don't kid yourself, the environment you describe fits nicely into what I'm talking about as at least some guidance.

Maybe some systems don't even get to that level, because I've seen the results.
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trickg
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Joined: 02 Jan 2002
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Location: Glen Burnie, Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2021 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crazy Finn wrote:
You don't need individual instruction or a private teacher. You just need someone with a CLUE to provide guidance. That can be a band director - even without lessons.

In one system I taught, we had weekly 20-30 minute lessons with 1-3 students at a time. Needless to say, this was a good environment for developing good players.

In another system I taught, I taught sectionals with 8-12 students for 25 minutes once a week. There was basically no individual instruction, but I could go over the basics of making a sound, articulation, and such and hear them do it, for 15 seconds, individually.

In other system, I just taught band, minimal lessons, but I could still give a little instruction to students.

This is all I'm talking about. Someone who has a clue. Someone who can get kids started correctly, more or less, and give them a suggestion in the right direction. This can allow your DIY approach to take shape, with high expectations.

But, if you just hand a kid a horn and tell them to go at it, with nothing else - who the heck knows how it'll turn out. I've seen it, it's not pretty. Sometimes it works, but it's a total coin flip. That's real DIY and it's not good, usually.

Don't kid yourself, the environment you describe fits nicely into what I'm talking about as at least some guidance.

Maybe some systems don't even get to that level, because I've seen the results.

I think that's what I was trying to get at. No kid taking band class is left completely up to their own devices - they have their peers to look to for comparison, and hopefully a band director/teacher who combines rehearsals with the teaching of some basic technique. Our band program in my town started in 5th grade, but we didn't play anything with sheet music until halfway through 6th. In the first two years, a lot of our work was done out of the basic band method books - simple exercises, simple songs.

No one goes through a school band program completely without guidance of some kind, even if they aren't taking private lessons.

This has kind of taken a turn off of the collegiate trumpet programs and their respective level of instruction. I guess so much of it does depend on the student though. If they don't have the capacity, or choose not to receive and employ the instruction given to them, and they are ok spending the money to come out of college without doing their best to find their way through a program that's actually going to work for them, then it truly is on them. But, if the college just passes them along without failing them - and IMO this kid was pretty danged deficient - then I'd tend to think that the institution and instructors share in that culpability.
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