I am a first year teacher in a middle school program. I have been talking with my principal about scheduling for next year and I wanted some advice.


I teach four 6th grade classes, four 7th grade classes, and two 8th grade classes.


What I have contemplated doing is having "normal" 6th grade classes made up of all the instruments, and splitting for 7th and 8th. Then I changed my mind again. I can't seem to make my mind up, but here is my schedule.


6th grade Beginning

6th grade Beginning

6th grade Beginning

6th grade Beginning

7th grade Intermediate

7th grade Intermediate

7th grade Intermediate

7th grade Beginning

8th grade Advanced

8th grade Advanced


How do you seperate your classes?

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Goodevening Allison,

From the looks of your schedule it appears that you would have no time to see students in a private

setting or in a like instrument setting. If that is the case you might look at a reply I wrote to Clay Michalec

on Oct 23 , 2011."Teaching Beginners without Pullouts." If you have to teach all of the instruments at one time in each class with no outside instruction, you are in a difficult situation to say the least. Perhaps I'm mis reading your situation.


Don Hofmeister

You are reading it correctly. I don't have an oppurtunity to pull students out. I have all of the instruments in the classroom all at once. That's why I'm trying to change my classes :) I see each class for 40 minutes every other day.

As a starter Allison I recommend the reading of the letter I wrote to Clay Michalec "Teaching Beginners without Pullouts." In my opinion, with 35 years of instrumental teaching in all kinds of public school teaching situations, you are in an extremely difficult position.

Somehow a way must be found to offer some continuous basic information about each individual instrument in your band. In the letter to Clay I presented the way I did it. It required

that the students be patient as I did the instruction and fortunately I was able to convey to them that absolute cooperation was needed  as I went from instrument to instrument.

Also because of years of teaching I knew each instrument very well and what needed teaching. I was also able to use many materials I had developed over many years to help.

Some of the supplementary materials can be seen @ Hofmeistermusic.net. They are simply laid out, but they do require some familiarity which is best gotten  experientially by using.


The grouping schedule you have presented is about as good as any under the circumstances.

It would be helpful to know how large these groups are,what basic group text is used, what instrumentation is likely in each one, what happens if a student no longer wants to play, and what is expected by way of performance through out the year.


Don Hofmeister






I use Satndard of Excellence with the classes. I came into a struggling program that is fairly urban and has had four different band directors in four years.


We have three main concerts. I have a winter concert for intermediate and advanced bands. I have one early in January for the beginners and one in May that is all the bands.


Each of my classes runs between about 27-35 students all on different instruments.


I also wonder how I will "place" the students that are entering as beginning 6th graders in the fall.

Ah, your first sentence tells me four people tried and found the situation non rewarding! The basic text is fine.

The performance schedule is doable. Play simple things in tune and musically.

Break the groups into smaller groups of like instruments. Set aside a set amount of time for each group so that they all receive some basic instruction each week  that has to do with the particular horn they play. The others are to listen to this instruction if they are in the same room. Some of what you cover applies to all instruments and so knowledge of other instruments is part of the benefits of being in a band. In essence you are expecting all of the students to benefit from the time they spend in your room.


If you mean by "place", what instrument they will start on.Essentailly let them start on what they want if there are no serious impediments why they should or could not. This is more complicated than that because no band is made up of all percussion or saxes! There are ways to handle getting a balance of instrumentation

but that would take a longer explanation.




Hi Allison,

I was musing about your situation again tonight! Is it possible that for the beginning groups you could break them into separate, brass, woodwind, and, percussion? If that is so, then I misread your situation. Definitely I would have them in groups like that over mixed instrumentation.

You would be able to use time more efficiently that way. You could get at the fundamentals better because of the similiarities. ie all brasses need to learn to buzz etc.

You first concert with the beginners would be orientated around woodwind, brass, and persussion ensembles with maybe one all together piece.


I was never in a school that was flexible enough to be able to break kids out that way and so it didn't enter my mind that might be what your situation is. I realize you did say h***-hetro groups and I should have asked for a clarification of meaning.

I can see that it may take a little time for me to understand more of the circumstances you face. Sorry about that.


Don H







Thank you so much for your help!

You are welcome.

Don H


There are a great many variations in programs across MSBandDirector.com with regard to scheduling and we are the clearing house for these types of discussions.  A couple of things...

Do you yourself have the ability to determine which students are included in each class? 

If so great,

Doesn't matter quite as much with 6th grade but separate ww and brass classes are nice.  I don't start any dedicated percussionists as everyone plays percussion in my program.  This also allows you to determine who really needs to be a percussionist and has the maturity and talent to handle it. (You get an entire year to make this determination, yeah)   If you need percussionists for your 6th grade concert you can always import ones from the 7th and 8th grade responsible students or simply send interested students back there to play. (They'll let you know, you might have some qualifications.  All "A's" (A,B honor roll, pass-offs complete, etc., is a good motivator if you let students know up front.  Nothing like having a brilliant percussion section.)

7th grade is begging for the stratification of ww, brass, and percussion and that 7th grade beginning class should be fine.  8th grade, I would go high and low (see below) if it is possible and if not I would go with the brass/percussion in one group and the woodwinds in the other group.  

If you are not able to schedule students yourself, it may be possible to group by ability.  This is popular with counselors because they already have this testing data and you can have your 3rd clarinets, 3rd trumpets, 2nd trombones, 2nd altos, tenors, bari etc.  all in one class and rehearse as such. I actually prefer this because it can create a very solid low sound throughout your band.  Keep your dedicated percussionists in the top group.  This way you are pulling your percussionists from the high group and don't have to deal with them in your lower group.  Advantages are many here with regard to logistics, however with regard to balance and blend with the chords in the band pieces, you will need some after school rehearsals to put it all together, depending on the level of literature.

You really ought to see if your administration will give you more students per class and go for a 7-8 advanced wind ensemble of 60-75ish.  This will require a change in the master schedule, but one that I would say is worth it.  A concert band just below them and a stratified beginner program.  Then you can play some quality literature that requires rehearsal with everyone all the time with limited extracurricular involvement on your part.

best of luck,



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