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Re: Middle school students with little effort given.
Be clear with them that you understand their predicament. Tell them that the class is full of other students that want to be there and learn. Tell them they are stuck there all year and they can either 1. have a miserable time all year because of work ethic and constant discipline problems OR 2. have a good attitude about it for 45 minutes a day, thats it, and at the end of the year you hope they at least get to learn an appreciation for musicians and had a little fun.
I have had this problem as well.
I have two baritones in my 7th grade band that do not put much effort forth. They're not disruptive to the class but their air support is equivelant to a woopie cushion that has already been sat on. This of course provides poor tone qualities and a lack of holding out pitches. They're giggly when they play by themselves (coping mechanism from embarrassment) and give up and a drop of a hat. It is a required class and they have no interest in playing in band.
I've contacted parents and they do have lower participation and test grades because of their effort in class.
How do I reach those and motivate to try harder? I've simplified their assignment to something they should be able to do if they just pushed air. The biggest issue is their air support.
I've left them in the dust a bit after trying to catch them up for three weeks. I couldn't hold back the rest of the class for two students. They just seem to drag along and barely able to do a few notes of each measure we're working.