Every program will have its "issues". Work for small positive changes in the first year. Praise the kids that are doing what you expect.
Ditto below. Play more, talk less. Stop and make corrections but take on a few seconds to do this. Address the entire group, but also make sure you focus on sections as needed. Most young directors talk a bit to much—don’t over intellectualize—just have them do what you want—fairly short and very concise instructions. If they don’t get it, reteach —have a plan in place on how to reteach things. Sometimes it is just am] matter of finding the one, or two right words
1. With the large group, do lost of playing and only give them two things to make better each rep. Keep your instructions short. Horn in mouth = not talking. They will get tired, but your are building endurance and solving a problem. When they can take more instruction give them one more thing to thing about. Two individual goals and one ensemble, two ensemble and one individual. One listening, one individual and one ensemble. Never give more than two or three. If you want to do more, then just do more reps with different goals each time.
2. Don't acknowledge the late kids in front of the group. Make them see you after rehearsal and hold them accountable. Follow up with a phone call to the parent. Make it as uncomfortable as possible within policy. Ultimately, next year write for less people and take them out of the show. Real culture change comes from the kids. It will take you getting a leadership team that understands your expectations and helps change the culture of the band. It can happen quickly, but it will take some time. You could give all the kids that show up on time something. Donuts after rehearsal. Let them out a little early on Friday. Again, reward the good behavior. Be careful to keep the reward in line with what you want.
Give grades that also have an attendance component. I am mot one for donuts, but if it works try it. Don’t let them out early. You are responsible for them, but maybe schedule a fun activity that keeps them busy and engaged and out of trouble.
3. 0f1481cf that the Seniors are not yours. Kids don't understand that you had nothing to do with the previous directors departure. They just know it isn't the same, not what they expected. It's really not fair to them. "It's not good, it's not bad, IT JUST IS." That's for you and for them. Make it clear that you did choose them. You made a decision to come and be their director. This changes the perspective of the kids. Have a meeting with the Seniors. Explain the previous statement. Help them understand that they are not doing anything, but hurting themselves. They control the quality of their experience through their attitude and approach to their role in the program. You can maximize it or minimize it. Either way we all win.
Ditto—don’t over think this though and never speak poorly of the previous director. Just appreciate Mr. or ‘Mrs so and so we’re here and I know you miss them. Let’s work hard as a tribute to them and you and make the rest of this year great.
4. Welcome to big band! More kids = more issues and excuses. That is why the culture of the program is so important. Work with your leadership team to change the culture. Make it to where the kids don't want to miss, because of how fun it is. Of course, you have to define fun. Having high standards and getting better is fun! Getting better, together is fun! Don't focus on the wrong kids. The ones that miss. Keep your focus on the kids that are there. Over time, those kids will get on board or start to feel uncomfortable and leave. If students miss a performance, make them write a paper. The assignment must be made up. Hold them accountable.
I loved having large bands 250-295–lots of fun, lots of work. Be very organized and plan far ahead and anticipate the anthills and be flexible enough to modify when needed
Keep your head down and keep working toward your goals. You are certainly going to make things better, because you are asking the right questions!
Repost in a year and then the year after with what worked for you!
I took over at a school this year that has a rather large band. It's great to have so many kids involved and most of them are great kids. However I am having problems I did not foresee taking over a good program. For such a successful program, they are pretty undisciplined. Can anyone offer some advice on the following subjects.
1) More band members = more talking ... really frustrating ... next year I will split the band right after marching but right now I am really struggling with talking being out of control.
2) Lots of problems with students coming in Late. We start 15min before school actually begins so they are making it to school without being "tardy" but still late to rehearsal. What are some decent consequences that have worked for you?
3) Seniors are just awful, they have bad attitudes, they are never wrong, they think they are deserving of everything. I have been teaching for 12 years and never seen a senior class like this. I know I can just wait them out a few more months but I am afraid they are rubbing off on other students.
4) Attendance - there is always an emergency, last minute, this or that every-time a band event comes along. What is your attendance policy for rehearsals and performances. Obviously performances need to be an emergencies only type of thing but any tips on consequences?
I definitely realize this is a "young teacher" line up of questions but most of this seems beyond what I am used to from my other schools and would like to know what has worked for you and maybe others are going through similar things and can learn from what you offer.