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Re: Is it that different?
I quit doing things for grades. My kids in the top ensemble got a 99 if they showed up to everything. We did certain pass-offs and I told the kids they were going to play it until they could play it because it was a skill they needed to have. Wasn't about the grade. It was about learning that skill. We talked about why band was different than other classes and a 99 was the same as a 50 so the grade didn't matter as much as the technique. I had very few sectionals. If a kid flat refused to do something then there was a punitive grade by the end of the grading cycle and possibly an ensemble change but for the most part this worked for my kids. It was my job to teach the kids skills, technique, and concepts. It wasn't my job to find ways to lower their GPA. They didn't want to play the B major scale because they weren't good at it. It was easier to take the 0 and not be humiliated. Until they realized that I, (or someone), was going to hear them every day play that scale until they learned it because one of their pieces was in B major. When I went away from punitive grades and focused on needed skills it made a HUGE difference with my Title 1 program!!!
I've had lots of kids who won't learn things even for a grade. To many kids, the desire to do nothing (or unwillingness to put forth any effort) overrides EVERYTHING else, including the desire to get good grades or even pass.
First, SmartMusic was around since the mid-90s (I was an original beta tester). Second, it isn't that band directing has so much as education and accountability has changed. Now, there has to be tons of justification for every point given. That, and kids are different and if it isn't for a grade they (or a large number) won't learn it.
I was discussing grading policies with some band director friends (what else would we do on Corona-break?), and we got to talking about our high school experiences. We were all in high school in the late 90s, early 00s. Several very good high school band programs. None of us could remember any kind of regular tape tests (maybe 1-2 during all-region), chair tests more than 1-2 per year. No SmartMusic - was that even a thing that far back? We did pass-offs during marching season for our section leaders. Everybody got a 97 on their report card unless they skipped a performance - but nobody every skipped a performance.
By the time I went through music school and started teaching, my head director at the time had a comprehensive program of passoffs for marching and concert music. All-Region season included weekly checkpoints on the music (for top band at least). There was a pre-planned curriculum of scales and fundamentals that covered the 3 years of high school band. The biggest part of my job was pulling kids into a practice room one at a time to hear them play their assignments.
I've been through a couple of jobs since then, and every school where I've taught has a system of some sort. Passoffs, recording assignments, SmartMusic, something. Now that I'm the head director myself, I have my own system in place.
Has band directing changed that much in ~20 years?