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Re: Follow up: What do the coaches tell our kids that we don't?
It's a hard slope to climb. If you're looking at it from the student's perspective they are probably wondering why they spend so much time playing an instrument. I know I did even in college. I still sit here in my office and I wonder why I'm teaching band. I had an administrator give me the best advice I ever got. "Teach band like it's bigger than life." Most kids are going through something in their life when they walk into our building, a range of differing emotions. Fine arts and sports help these kids find something that's different from what their other problems are. It's when the sport or band become part of the problem that they don't want to do either. You've already listed a lot of the advantages that sports have. It's hard to compete with that and honestly we do not have the budget to hang with that in most school districts. Obviously the way you can overcome this is by having really good all region and solo and ensemble programs and do stuff with that all of the time. Also, in bigger schools, you will have things like indoor drumline and guard. These kind of things make band like sports because the students in the program are always doing something with the knowledge they get in your class and therefore want to be involved with band. I would say "always maintain a positive classroom climate" but it's not possible in a lot of school districts. There are places in the trenches where you have to dig music out of students (a lot of rural and urban schools.) Even places where student success is always happening in band have to push kids every time they rehearse. I think the number one idea I have here is that students will not respect band enough to want to stay if there is not enough rigor or growth going on all the time. Students will quit band and go to other things too when they're pushed. However, you don't want kids in your band that don't want to do the work. I've had an ensemble where 40% of the kids were there because they knew we were successful but didn't want to get things done in rehearsals. A lot of directors prefer smaller ensembles because you're left with the ones that will work for you. A lot of parents want their child in your band because they know you will work them hard and make them better people. If you're ever in a situation where you have to beg people to do stuff then it's time to consider whether staying there is worth it. Never back away from standards, have high expectations of your kids and work like crazy. The students will notice and you will get them to follow you. If you let up they'll lose respect and go somewhere where they feel like they're accomplishing something. Best of luck.