Ok MS Band DIrectors. Here's where I need all the best information and
advice I can get. I have a small band program of about 35 beginners and
about 40 concert band (7th/8th). I'm trying to convince my kids that
with proper practice, they get better, and as they get better, it's more
fun to play. They dont seem to buy it. I cant seem to get them to make
practice a priority.

What are some of your best practices for getting kids to WANT to practice their instruments/music?

Joshua Uhrich
Dayton, OH

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That's great Pamela! You sound like you enjoy what you do. I, too open my doors for them to come and practice at lunch recess, (I teach beginning band & general music at an elementary) in the wet northwest they enjoy the relief from going out in the rain. I leave them alone and they teach each other, it's great!

Karen: We think alike. I also use this approach, along with labeling the octaves.

Something else: In trying to find a way to help those who cannot seem to learn note names, I discovered GBDFACE is a repeated series within the grand staff. It is repeated 3 times. You begin on the 1st bass clef line - go through all the lines on the grand staff and then go to the 1st bass clef space note and go through all the spaces. My class made an acronym for this series of letters: Goofy Bit Daffy's FACE.  I'll attach an explanation sheet of how I present this to my classes. When they learn this, they can name every note on the grand staff. After I use this approach, I then refer back to the standard EGBDF/FACE & GBDFA/ACEG and show the students how this fits into the grand staff picture.

Note: You can also use this to teach the basic notes in triads: GBD - BDF - DFA - etc.

Pamela Rezach

Attachments:

This looks great.   For another perspective, I ran into an accompanist years ago that shared with me (beat me with) the concepts that the International Piano Guild uses.  They're simple:

1.  Treble clef is "Off the Ground"  so... Every good bird does fly.   Space spells FACE

        These things are off the ground, tell stories about them.

2.  Bass clef is "On the Ground"   so... Good Boys Do Fine Always.     All Cows Eat Grass.

         Boys are hopefully wrestling around on the ground and All Cows Eat Green    

         Bananas is a fun alternative for students wishing get above the Bass Clef staff.

I also use the explosive material in all the movies and television shows called C4 to explain that middle C4re is the most explosive note in music.

The differentiating between things on and off the ground helps those that need it.  I go further and teach students that they have 3 names and so do the notes (because we use solfege).  This is because I taught AP music theory and students MUST know octave designations and oddly enough, this is easier for them to learn and really helps with their overall schema.   So:   C4re or ReC4   is middle C  (Do is Bb in band for us and is moveable)

solF5 or F5Sol  and so on.  

This way everyone is happy and the students do not know the difference, they just nail their high school AP music exams.  

Building a culture where kids enjoy practice and making music together is essential.  This group will infect the other kids (in a positive way) and also those other kids in the community that will be coming up into your program.  Kids love community, and making practice a social event is essential.

New Update: This year I decided to go the extra mile with my plan. I still use what I have already posted, but now the students earn 30 points a week for practicing outside of class. I have arranged it so that it does not "hurt" the students who do not practice; doing that would create too many problems and my goal is to create positive attitude towards practice; thus, I excuse those who do not practice and write the following comment: "No record of practice." Here is how it works: I prepared practice sheets for the students to sign. (If you want to see a copy, let me know.  I couldn't figure out how to add an attachment to a reply.)  They are posted on the instrument rooms - for easy access. The students place their initials in the correct section (days of week.) I have divided the page into two sections: practice at home and practice at school. In Progress Book, I give 30 points if the students have practiced. I do not consider how many times each student practices - to me, if I can get a student to practice one time a week who has never practiced - that is sweet success! (What I am observing: the students who only practice once a week soon practice more than once a week.) In what way does the 30 points help? If a student has a bad day and does not do well on a Smart Music assessment - or an assessment directly with me - he has 30 points per week that will off-set the bad assessment. Students who do not practice, do not have these points to help them. I have also provided this explanation to the parents. So far, this is working! I'm seeing students practice who have never practiced before. They come into the band room (in the atmosphere of students enjoying practice) and before you know it, they, too are enjoying practicing. PLAN B: I divided each band into sections - about 10 -12 students per group. Each week I find the percentage of those who practiced in each section and the winning section (the group with the most percentage) is given a "free" day during rehearsal sometime during the week. I let only those who practiced within the winning group go into the instrument room to experience the "free" day away from rehearsal. They watch a music video, play trio music, and/or play solos that can be played together as an ensemble. THEY LOVE THIS! My discovery: By allowing students who practice the opportunity to do something else during rehearsal, I can focus on weaker spots in the music. It is a win - win situation. PLAN C for the FUTURE (maybe:)  If I observe the need for growth, plan C will be the culmination of the whole scheme of things concerning the practicing plan: Next nine weeks, the students will decide how many points they want to earn for practicing. They will still be able to earn up to 30 points per week, but if they practice one time, that will equal 5 points; two times - 10 points, etc.

In conclusion: You need to "grow" your students into loving to practice. I believe this is one reason I have had so much success with this plan. It has been introduced step by step and the students are climbing higher and higher on the ladder of success towards “loving to practice.”

 

I really appreciate the responses that others have left on this discussion!  Here is a question for others who visit this discussion:  Do you think that it would be reasonable for students to receive a "get out of a quiz free" card for each nine weeks that they have a perfect practice record?  If so, do you think it might be a motivation for some to practice if they wouldn't otherwise?  

I always tell students that their practice is the key to doing well in the class.  Practice will help them to do well on playing quizzes/tests, play better in class, gain confidence, and have more fun (just as Joshua mentioned in the original post).  Generally those who are turning in practice time regularly are the same ones who do well on everything else.  Perhaps exempting those students from a quiz would provide them with recognition while providing motivation to others to do the same.  By the same token, perhaps something like Pamela's "Top Dog" award, in this case, given for a perfect practice record, would provide a similar motivation.

Finding a balance between 20% pop music and 80% concert band literature is a good start. Most middle school students don't care about tone and technique but it will develop with time without them knowing it.

I had a hard time getting them to practice but used some pop tunes as warm-ups in concert band practice. Then after that tuned the students and worked on concert band literature for after school band practice.

I guess the pop tunes made me a cooler music teacher, but if definitely worked well.

If you haven't checked out smartmusic you definitely want to look into it. www.smartmusic.com

In my opinion it is the future of music education. Definitely makes practice a lot of fun for the kids. Look into it and I hope this helps.

I handed out Don't Stop Believin' nice sounding arr. but it completely inspired my whole clarinet section to work on high register notes, because it's the melody and great intro. to 16th notes. They knew the only way to enjoy the whole piece playing it was by practicing these harder parts at home. Pop/Rock speaks to them. 

Hi Mark,

Would you mind sharing some of your pop tunes?

Sheri

I use the Band Olympic Program and so they are tested every week.  There are always a few students in each class though who don't keep up with the tests but usually do enough to earn at least one of the three certificates for the year.  I am looking at the date of this post and I guess my response is a little late!  I just joined recently...

Sheri,

Can you tell us more about the band Olympic Program please?  Perhaps upload some files...

Hi Russ,

Yes, I will try to upload an example for you and try and find a website you could get more information from as well.

Cheers,

Sheri

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