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Re: 7th grade motivation
Depending on your band setup you may have a couple of different options. Generally speaking I try and review as much as possible at the beginning of the second year with students in lower bands. Our NV JH group that I conduct is in the same boat generally with remembering the last year. I've been using the Ticheli Making Music Matter Beginning book with them the past couple years and it's definitely helped a lot of this. We've been going through a page or two of that a day since we started back up and it helps to reteach everything basically from the ground up.
This is where having split ability based groups helps us significantly with this though, because our 7th graders who worked hard last year are in the top group still being pushed. With the other group I'm able to take it a bit slower and more methodical so those kids will be better prepared for next year and high school band.
You just can't move too quickly with them even though pep rallies kind of push you to do so. I'm glad our first one isn't for another week and a half.