We are looking into the pros/cons and logistics of doing ability based bands in our Middle School. We currently have a 7th grade band and an 8th grade band.
How do you and your school handle issues in scheduling the students into the correct ensemble? For example, I know we have certain athletic classes during the band classes. Do issues often come up where students are unable to be scheduled into the correct band for them due to conflicts? If so, how are they handled? Do the students just quit band? Were you able to make it work with that student in a group that may not be the best fit for them?
Re: Ability Based Middle School Bands - Scheduling
I have taught both 7 and 8 grades separated and ability grouped. I prefer the ability group in order to have kids that are at about the same level and can do what is appropriate for them. I have 7th graders that are outplaying 8th graders and need to be challenged. At the same time there are 8th graders who are not ready not only musically but maturity wise to handle the demand of the top band. There are always some issues (not very many) and I have always handled them on a case by case basis and make it work if the child cannot be placed in the right class. I have not experienced kids quitting because they are in the wrong class. There have been a few times where an advanced student is place in the second band. I have given that student the advanced band music, they come to sectionals and perform with the top band. In the case of a not-so advanced student in the advanced band, they usually end up improving because the are surrounded and exposed to that advanced caliber of band kid.
As far as scheduling, the first thing I suggest to do for making sure there are as little conflicts as possible is to get together with the person who is in charge of the master schedule and see where you can put your top band, second band, third band, etc. Then I give a list to the councilors of which kids go where. This has been in place at my school for a very long time and works well. Hope this helps.