Teaching band is a special calling. It’s the opportunity to change young lives through music. The benefits of playing in a band include increased emotional stability, improved creative thinking skills, and the ability to collaborate. You are giving your students the opportunity to learn all that and more through your band class.
There are numerous resources available to band directors, all designed to help you run the best program possible. Take a look at a few of them and get ready for a stellar band season.
Your students will enjoy your class so much more if they are playing great music. In this modern age of digital publishing, you have countless options for obtaining music. The first consideration is to make sure you use legal copies. It’s tempting to save on the budget by copying music from a fellow band director. However, it’s important that your students learn about respecting intellectual property. Set the example from the top down and observe copyright laws.
As you build your music library, you can save money by purchasing only what you need from download music sites. At Musicnotes, for example, you can choose from a variety of instrumental groupings to meet just about every contingency, such as:
- Brass sheet music
- Woodwind quintets
- Brass and wind sextets
- Instrumental solos
- Grade 3 concert band pieces
If you are beginning a marching band program, make it easy on yourself by purchasing the music and the marching charts together. Save the original chart designs for when you have more experience under your belt. Publishers Alfred and J.W. Pepper is a good source for your marching music and drills.
Online Teaching Help
While we may hope the bulk of online learning is behind us, the reality is that teachers need to remain flexible. The return to online education can happen at any time. Teaching band online is especially challenging for music educators, as the very nature of what you do demands in-person contact.
Fortunately, you aren’t alone and there are resources available to you to improve your online classes:
- International School Services offers workshops on virtual learning that you can watch live or access in their archives.
- The Jazz Education Network has a webinar specifically aimed at teaching ensembles online.
- ISTE has a downloadable book with strategies to help you teach more effectively in an online classroom.
Field trips to concerts are always fun, but if you can’t get your players there in person, a virtual concert is enjoyable, too. There are numerous performing organizations that stream concerts for educators to use. Don’t limit yourself to just band concerts. Your students can benefit from a variety of ensemble performances, such as:
- The United States Army Field Band
- The Metropolitan Opera
- The Philadelphia Orchestra
- NPR Tiny Desk Concerts
- The LA Philharmonic
It’s important to log your PD hours. The good news is that you don’t have to go out and search for those hours on your own. It’s easy to get the hours you need with Professional Development Webinars from the National Association for Music Education. Their recorded sessions are online and available at all hours for ease of watching.
You can also read Music Educator Journal articles on the NAfME website for PD hours. After you read the article, just take a brief quiz. With a score of 75% or higher, you get one contact hour of professional development.
Diversity in Curriculum
To truly maximize your teaching potential and reach students where they are, you need a band program that represents the diversity of students in your classroom. There are resources that can help you expand both your and your students’ horizons:
- The Institute for Composer Diversity: This website is a powerhouse of information about concert programming music by underrepresented composers. Go here to find the next piece your band will play by a Black man, an Asian woman, or an indigenous person.
- Smithsonian Folkways: The Smithsonian Folkways is a collection of field recordings made around the world. It is a rich archive that represents numerous cultures and peoples. The website has lesson plans, recordings, and a goldmine of information about world music.
Most importantly, find the resources that help you destress, rest, and rejuvenate. Sign up for yoga classes or get a massage at the end of the week. Connect with your administrators and let them know how they can help you. Don’t forget to socialize with your peers. There’s nothing better than to commiserate with other conductors about your out-of-tune tuba sections.
Begin prepping for your band season now by stopping by Musicnotes online. Browse their selection of brass sheet music, woodwind sheet music, and ensemble arrangements. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can get the quality music you want for your band program.