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Re: Lessons a pre-requisite for top band?
Maybe. Except that we are small pickings. They can't get very much out of the school district which is a state entity when the only thing they could possibly argue is mental anguish. No real physical damage done and no real negligence so no real $$ and they sure as heck wouldn't get very much out of me personally so there isn't a big pay day to be had over keeping a kid out of the top band. I could argue it any number of ways if I had to. That said, (and I am not the OP), I agree that we should do the right thing. I never had the take lesson rule and never supported it. I had an All-state kid who never took a private lesson. I also didn't have much to do with it as this kid was just special and highly motivated. One in a career type of kid. They taught me more than I ever taught them!
My child is in a good suburban program in the top band and not in lessons this year. Made region even. If it can't be done in the classroom it probably won't be done was said to me early in my career by a very, very successful and smart director. I took that to heart. Lessons are bonus but should not be the center of a student's public music experience.
Justify not having the rule because of good practice and not because of fear of being sued. In all my years of teaching I have not personally known a single teacher that was ever sued.
We (meaning all of us, including me) should all just do the right thing. The best players will make the top band regardless of lessons. If we are pushing lessons solely or even mainly because we think it'll get us first divisions or Honor Band or whatever, that's pretty sad. We are teachers, first. We need to teach the kids to the best of our and their abilities. A side note: yes a family that can't afford lessons can get ahold of a lawyer and sue. There are lawyers out there that will jump at the chance to take a school district to the cleaners over any type of discrimination or perceived discrimination. They WILL win and the lawyer will get a big pay day.