Why we NEED band teachers ...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MUSICandCHARACTER, May 10, 2004.


    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    All of us have had band teachers. Some of these teachers are excellent muscians (one of my son's teachers plays in the Evansville Symphony and teaches). Today my son turned 12. His 6th grade band played in the 10th annual All Castle School District band festival.

    All the bands from 6th grade through HS played. At the end, the entire school district played an eleborate arrangement of "America the Beautiful." It had parts that were easy for the 6th grader and Junior Highers and nice parts for the HS students. A long standing O was given to these kids.


    I personally thanked my kid's teacher. Some 500 musicians filled the Castle HS gym for this festival. 8 different directors were there. It was moving and amazing.

    As a shrink by day, I know that kids involved in the schools' jazz, band, choir and orchestra programs are usually the best kids around. Sure there are a few bad eggs, but in general music does develop character. America the Beautiful vs. Gansta Rap. It is no contest. But without dedicated music teachers, it wouldn't happen.

    For all of you who teach, either in schools or private lessons, thank you!

  2. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    We are a dying institution. Might take another generation, but Band Directors will go the way of the Shop Teacher, Home Ec., Dance, Drama..all will go. When we see new schools built with multi-purpose rooms instead of band rooms...like one our district built a couple of years ago.

    Standardized tests will put the final nail in the coffin. They are how Principal's are evaluated, jobs depend on them. Any thing not related to the tests will go away.

    It will take a while.

    But it will happen.

    God bless parents that realized how important a good band program can be to their child!

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Maybe not ....
    If you have never visited http://www.supportmusic.com/ you should.

    Indiana has taken the opposite view with standardized testing. Students must be able to read music AND play at least one instrument (recorder, bells, anything ...). These are in the standards by which the schools get evaluated. I know one district that ran into "financial trouble" -- usually said when they want more money. They started talking about cutting the sports programs. Not football, it makes money. Not basketball (you don't cut basketball in Indiana!). Title IX meant some women's sports had to stay. Ah, the law got them.

    Then we will cut arts and music. But those pesky standards. Music is part of the standards (so is art), so guess what? -- can't cut music either. Then someone suggested cutting the number of assistant principals since they were not in the classroom -- and give those duties to the principals. Amazing how they found the money for everything.

    If you fear music being lost from your school or in your state, make a difference. Make sure they are IN the standards. NAMM, SupportMusic.com and many other places have lots of resources to help.

    I think the bigger threat is that musicians will shy away from Music Ed because they THINK they may be endangered. Well, bless those who have inspired students and taken less pay for it and those who will.

    If they had cut football, football would have still existed. There are plenty of sports leagues outside the school programs. My kid's friend takes an art class every Saturday morning. Cut the band program, and believe me band programs will appear everywhere. They cut driver's ed in many schools, so now there are many private driver education schools. The cut shop in some schools -- and you can go to schools run by unions as the basics for an apprenticeship program to learn the same basics.

    School boards scream -- they always want more money. Parents have to fight back. And while I am on my soapbox, support your teachers! Teachers today know that if it comes down to them vs. a kid and their parents, the kid wins. They have little authority at times (and huge responsibilities). Not so long ago, if you were called into the principal's office, that was the least of your worries. What your parents would do when you got home was a much bigger problem.

    Now parents just go after the teacher for being "unfair." Life is unfair. Your parents won't be able to help you when you lose your job because you do not respect authority. Support your teachers. Some are bad, but the vast, vast, vast majority are the best of people and they are giving it their all for our kids.

    The music will never go away. Lets make sure it stays in the schools (I guess everyone could move to Indiana :D ).

  4. FreshBrewed

    FreshBrewed Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Houston, TX
    I was brought up in Texas, where HS band pretty much went hand in hand with football. The program I was in was/is one of the best in Division 4A. When the subject of cutbacks came, it was taboo to talk of cutting the music program. I think the reason for this is due to the success of the program itself. It's kind of like the music industry. If you suck, you aren't going to get called back. If you impress them(school board), you will be called again and again.

    Let's face it, bad band directors are a dime a dozen. I would rather see a program cut than to have it suffer under poor leadership and lack of direction. It only harms the art itself if it isn't taken care of and taught properly. Most school boards couldn't tell the difference between a good band director and a bad one, nor could they care. As someone said earlier, it would essentially open up something in the private sector if there were not a program in the school. This could be beneficial to all involved because the people care enough about music to offer something in the private sector and the kids who did show up would really want to be there. I've seen so many cases where kids were only in band because their parents wanted them to be in it. I'll be a daddy soon and there is no way I'm going to force my little girl to take band if she doesn't want to be a musician. It would only add to the possibility of failure in the program because she wouldn't be giving it her all.

    Now I'm sure there are good programs out there that are in danger of being cut by the school board. This is where parents come into the picture. If the board wants to get rid of a successful music program and keep a lacross team that is 0-50 over the last 4 years, then get rid of the board when it comes time to elect school board officials.

    A board's biggest beef with music programs is that they take up a lot of money. Once again, parents need to get involved. Whether it be fund raising or just helping to make/repair uniforms/flags/music stands, they need to get involved with what their children are doing. Our band boosters designed and made the colorguard uniforms and equipment every year. They were able to do this by having a hot dog stand at the football games. That stand also helped to pay for a lot of other things. Our buses were painted by one of the fathers in the band boosters who found someone to donate the paint. The list goes on and on.

    Our music programs are important. It isn't all the school district's fault that they get cut. Sorry if I'm calling out some parents or teachers here but it's the truth. You can bet that whatever my daughter chooses to do that I am going to back that program 100% so that I do my part to help make it successful so that she can be successful.

    Thanks for sharing a story of success with a music program this is well supported by ALL involved in it M&C.
  5. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    That sentence didn't make any sense until...

    ...that one cleared it up. Unfortunately, this isn't even close to being the case in 90% of the small schools of Texas (A-lower 3A). In these schools, football is the holy cow, and band nerds get made fun of more than the cheerleaders
    (though I will admit I was able to debate most of our football players and cheerleaders into admitting that they were stupid-didn't take much). Everything is dependent on results. If the band wins a sweepstakes, great. They might give you an extra hundred for the budget. If the band makes straight 2's, eh, that's alright, we wont' hurt you. God help if you don't do at least that, though.

    Another problem is money. In these small towns, the tax base is pretty small, so the overall money intake is pretty low. Little money to go around, and like I said, football is the holy cow. To tell you how rididulous it is, about 2 or 3 years ago, my HS decided they needed to cut back around 5-6000 dollars. They cut 1500 from the band, 3000 from the academic competitions,and then 500 from athletics. Pretty goofed up, but welcome to small town Texas. Also, there aren't enough parents who really wanna get stuff done for the band. You can have fundraisers til your blue in the face, but if nobody comes, what's the point? These are the actual issues facing my old HS band right now. I hope they get them straightened out, because the school board isn't gonna do anything to help.
  6. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Michael, you said "holy cow"; I think you meant "sacred cow". Regardless.

    Yes, parents HAVE to get involved. It has been proven time and time again that kids who learn music run higher scores in virtually every other subject and especially in the maths. If we want our society to improve instead of retrograding backwards to a "service society" (wherein the highest quality of job might be getting to work the cash register at Mickey D's), then we have to improve our entire EDUCATION system. Music and the Arts are part of that. Positive reinforcement is also required. Don't just say "hey, you should join the band" and then assume that everything will be OK.

    I've been VERY lucky with our children; my wife started them off learning piano "as a mechanism to teach them self-discipline and because they just might turn out to love music". The first two happened to want to go to a high school that (as it turned out) had an excellent music program run by a dedicated, talented, and energetic teacher. We supported the teachers 100%, helping out when necessary and ensuring that practice got done properly. One of these two is graduating next month with her performance degree on French horn. The twins (younger two) elected to go to the same school (we moved in the intervening years and their "designated school" is a different one) because of the music program. They've already been on a week-long band trip in their first year (yes it costs... but what is the cost of NOT succeeding at band? reduced marks in other scholastic areas?). They learn not only music and develop not only in learning skills useful in the "real career areas", but they learn to get along with others, they pick up teamwork skills equal or even higher than athletes, get some idea of independance, self-reliance, and immeasureable amounts of pride in their accomplishments.

    Now they might even be in line for a trip to Europe next summer with the school band! Sure, that will cost too....but they want to go so they're already looking for part time and summer jobs (I've told them that I'm not footing the entire bill for both of them to go). Oh yeah, they're both honors students too. Forgive me for "blowing my own horn" here but I truly believe that being "band geeks" has shown them that it's OK to not be part of the "main herd" that talks nothing but "Reality"shows, teen idols, and instead developed in them an ability to make their OWN decisions about who to hang out with, what to do, what goals to set and how to achieve them.

    Get down to your local school on PTA days and make yourself heard to the school administrators. Vote, if necessary. Attend school band concerts (volunteer to help when required). Show an INTEREST in what your kids are doing musically... the rewards are simply too great to ignore. Honestly...your kids WANT your approval. The saddest thing I think I've seen in a long time is a school gymnasium running a band concert at which only about 20 or 30 parents showed up and would leave as soon as "Jr." had finished his or her solo. Support ALL of the kids... stay to the end and give them applause for the work they've done.

    Yeah... and don't forget to single out the music teacher(s) and tell them how much you appreciate them... and follow that up with a comment to the school administration about how great the music teachers are. They won't forget the message.
  7. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Gee Doc Fox, it sounds like you're not in tune with the new "kinder/gentler" education philosophy where creating self-esteem is the objective, not teaching kids? :wink:

    You make a lot of sense and I share your views. Its to the point now where voters can hardly believe their local school boards when they keep asking for more 'temporary' increases in funding. The school boards / superintendents have lost credibility.

    Perhaps some can share their ideas why? I have heard from friends that left teaching that it wasn't the pay, the kids, or the parents, but most often was because they had it with the politics, the union and higher ups forcing them to teach more useless subjects while taking time away from core subjects - you know PC, self esteem and all that. One guy told me when he was getting his teaching degree that it was stressed by his mentors to always ask for more resources whether you could justify them or not. No wonder public education is a mess.

  8. mheffernen5

    mheffernen5 Pianissimo User

    Here in Cedar Rapids (the 2nd largest city in the state of Iowa), the public schools wanted to cut some music programs because of a school budget. Granted I go to a catholic school so I would not have been effected at all by this but I do think children should learn to play music. It is really fun and it keeps them out of trouble with the law.
  9. timcates

    timcates Pianissimo User

    Jan 17, 2004
    Texas - USA
    Fresh Brewed,

    I agree with you for the most part - however as one who came from a TX band program that made 4's on stage and now makes a large part of my income as a player, I have to take exception to saying that you should shut down such programs - you should have administrators and/or fine arts supervisors who know how to evaluate a music instructor and hold them accountable for the student's musical growth (not the usual ex-coach who only cares about how many times he had to deal with a problem regarding the program during the year). Good things can come out of those bad programs - don't throw out the baby w/ the bathwater.

    The larger problem in public school band instruction is that the contest rating has become so important that far too many BD's spend 80% (or more) of their instruction time for the year on the 8 minute marching show (fall) and the 3 contest pieces (spring) - it's the equivalent of teaching to the test for a classroom teacher - This is NOT music education that is focused on the student; rather, it's feeding the BD's ego by being able to brag to colleagues how difficult the piece is that he rote taught the kids for 3.5 months - BFHD (big fat hairy deal). Parents, kids, admin and alums should expect (and get) more IMHO.
  10. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    Oops, I did mean "sacred cow", my bad.

    About that PTA idea- there's a reason why they really don't want me to.
    1) As the valedictorian and the one who ended up at Texas A&M (and possibly a 4.0 this semester as well), that means that I represent the quality of education that I got there. First thing I intend to tell them is how much that school sucks. And I have so much evidence against them on that statement that I could write a novel right here, but I'll spare ya'll that one.

    2) The coaches all hate me. All of them. Might have something to do with the fact that I wrote an article about needing a new performing arts facility (this includes the thespians-of which I am one as well). My theory was to tear down the "Old Gym" wing of the school and rebuild it-renovate it at LEAST. We had two gyms anyway. Ooh, that did NOT go over well with much of the upper brass and the coaches. One of the coaches decided to try and get even by telling my girlfriend that if she didn't break up with me, she'd fail geography. Not like I cared....

    3)Unfortunately, my band director kinda went down the tubes toward the end of his tenure (my Sr. year was his last there). I somehow or other ended up as being like a second or third in charge (we had an associate band director once or twice). I was also easily the biggest band nerd on campus ( literally, I was about 5 inches taller than the rest :roll: ). I also was active in everything else. So I was kinda what many teachers called the "ideal student" (they obviously didn't know me that well...). Like I said, ideal student comes back and tells school board they are a bunch of morons, probably wouldn't fly over too well.

    I certainly wouldn't just pop up and tell them that they were stupid. I'm a better debater than that. But I'd still say a lot they didn't want to hear, and it wouldn't do any good. It's why I call it Crooke (instead of Cooke) county, because the politicians, schools, stores, etc. are all pretty crooked and corrupt. [/rant]

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