High School Music Programs Declining

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by xjb0906, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    While funding is always a problem, I believe the issue goes even deeper. There are not as many kids interested in band as there used to be. Recruiting kids into band is difficult. With the advent of the Beatles etc., music interests moved from brass and woodwind to guitar. The interest is just not there, even if there is a band director program. Most band programs could handle far more players without adding staff. That said, the upper elementary introductory band programs are becoming few and far between. I started trumpet in 5th grade. My son did not have the opportunity until 7th grade.
     
  2. Flugellover

    Flugellover New Friend

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    I think that it is important to note that not all band programs are declining. Our school had an amazing director that left a few years ago who was huge on making our top band really good. While this made our top band really good to the point that they were invited to a national band festival with only a dozen other bands, many of the kids in the lower bands weren't enjoying band and many were dropping out. Our new director doesn't focus on our top band being phenomenal as much as he focuses on band being fun. When he focuses on band being fun, the everyone, from the worst to the best kids, gets more involved in band and we are all better musicians to the point where our top band is better now than it was before our director came, not to mention jazz and marching band that are also better now than a few years ago. I think that many of the problems seen in band programs today may be in the attitude of creating a group of elites rather than an enjoyable band experience. I am not saying that the directors are bad or anything like that, just saying that I think bands are more successful when they are focused on fun, not being really, really good.
     
  3. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

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    The Alumni of my high school band have decided to find ways to support our old program. Last night a few of us went to a home game and watched the band perform.I did get encouraged by a couple of things. One is that both of the middle schools that feed this high school came to perform The National Anthem and pep music in the stands with the high school kids. There were more middle school band students on the field than high school.The other is that there will be an honors band course next year. Apparently that will entice college bound students to continue in the music program.

    While at the game we talked about old times and took up money for a donation that was presented to the booster club. We also offered to provide help and support to the booster club.

    I encourage others to look at the music programs in your area. Is there a need? If so, do what you can. Standing by and shaking your head does nothing to improve the situation.
     
  4. Pete

    Pete Piano User

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    IMHO there are many variables to this problem. First of all, most students can't relate to playing music in marching band. There aren't many of them that can appreciate it for what it is. They aren't exposed to much music that has horns in it, whether on TV, radio, video, etc. The media chiefs have dumbed down music in America over the past 25 years or so. Actually, the Beatles used horns on their recordings using some of the London Symphony players if some of you recall. Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power, Chicago, Chase, Brecker Brothers, Cold Blood, etc. were just some of the main groups some of us were exposed to growing up. We had validation as horn players. Doc was on TV every night on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It was cool to be a trumpet player, trombone player, or saxophone player.

    Digital sampling of real live horn players were starting to be programmed into software to take the place of horn players in the 1980's. Audiences were allowed to be out of control and behave poorly at concerts, and this has carried over today. The behavior is like that of a sporting event where most anything is accepted: rudeness, talking, cell phones, inappropriate comments, entitlment, etc.

    Culturally, Jazz is our music. It is not widely accepted by the masses for various reasons. One reason is that they actually have to pay attention and understand what is going on. The term "Jazz" has been skewed, to conform to marketing ideas. The public has been less educated over the past 25 years or so to accept various forms of art, not just music. Many can't even relate to context: big band requests for "Stairway to Heaven", etc shows ignorance for the style of music that they don't get. I'm not making this up.

    I've been a professional musician since I was 18, part-time and full time. Some of what I thought were my worst gigs artistically, were the gigs we would get the most compliments for. It is not just music education in schools, it is art at it's highest level being dismissed by many as not being important. Many around my location in Western Massachusetts seem to glorify the future baseball star, over the future musican. The former they believe has that $50 million dollar contract potential, and the later has the potential for working part-time around here and having to work another job.

    Back in the 50s in Springfield, MA, Springfield Technical High School had two famous jazz musicians as graduates. Phil Woods, and Joe Rociasano. This was a technical high school. They studied privately with Harvey LaRose. These days, you don't get this kind of player in the best school often . Most kids don't take private lessons. The band director gives free lessons, so why should we have to pay?

    Now I know that this is not the case everywhere, but all of this has helped in the decline of cultural art. It is our responsibilty as musicians to make the quality as good as can be, and promote music to the best of our abilities. That's what they do with baseball around here.


    Pete
     
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  5. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    Pete,

    Very good analysis. When I referenced the Beatles, I realized they did use horns in their music occasionally. However, when the kids saw them, it was essentially the 4 on stage, strumming guitars, electric base and playing drums. Chicago, BST at least featured the horns. The small 4 or 5 member rock bands essentially removed brass from visibility, though brass (along with strings) were often included in the recording studio to add depth to the music.

    as you say, what really hurt was the programming of digital horns into music. I remember when Streisand came out with somewhere, I couldn't wait to hear it. The horns were fake. How terrible and disappointing.

    Kids need someone they want to emulate. In that vein, Maynard, Doc, Alpert, and Hirt did more for trumpets than we can ever imagine.
     
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Not really... there is only one true DEPENDENT variable... funding. All other variables ARE realted to this.


    Band directors do not give free lessons... they are paid a salary... and IF they have time [as they did in my day] they give "free" lessons. It was their job back then. However, as teachers and instructors roles get spread thinner and thinner there role is trimmed down more and more... as the first to go... "free" lessons for that educationally powerful one on one education.
     
  7. Pete

    Pete Piano User

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    Funding is not the only variable. And the second point you quoted was sarcasm.

    Pete
     
  8. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

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    far be it for me to jump in the middle of a discussion ---- and especially uncharacteristic of me to defend my HERO GM here. uhm -- this is just what I gather from talking to the music teacher in my community band (some recently retired, and some still young, and attractive -- all being women of course --- I mean who else is there to talk to??))
    my take according to the recently retired music teacher, and a current teacher who has been there for 15 years, are that they cut programs, and they have reduced the music education staff, such that you have 1 or 2 music teachers in a high school that has like 5 different music genres (concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, marching band) -- so instead of having 3 teachers -- they have 1 full time, and a part time, and they have to still try to accomplish the same music programs with these kids. The one music teacher --- highly exhausted after 15 years, got up and apologized to the community band!!!! --- She had to step out of community band, and she says she was TOO exhausted to be our associate director ---- SHE cited an excessive work load at her regular music teaching job!!!!!


    KT -- here tried to encourage her that she could still participate, and be useful, and also be a great encouragement for others if she were to return to community band this year -------------- so far, after the last 2 weeks of startup I have not seen her!!!!!!!!!!! EXHAUSTED AT HER REGULAR MUSIC TEACHING JOB --- that is what she cited as the main reason for stepping down!!!!!!!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Pete... Read my post carefully. I did not state it was the only variable, I said it was THE DEPENDENT variable from which other variables are derived.

    Here on TM, I am known to being sarcastic, but my second point THIS TIME was NOT sarcastic... it was the truth.

    Pete, I volunteer 2 mornings a week before I head into work to help the band director with a Middle School jazz band. I run sectionals for him and direct the band when he is out on leave... because there is no one else to help him... the school system has given him a shoe string budget.

    I challenge you to do the same. Volunteer for a local school system then tell me I am wrong. Sarcasm.... You owe me an apology for that comment.
     
  10. DaTrump

    DaTrump Forte User

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    No, Jiarby
     

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