For music educators - By music educators
If there have been full ride scholarships from the HS that you feed into, you can take the amount of dollars and do a math lesson. Let's say $70,000 per year for 4 years at a private institution. That's $280,000 worth of value. Divide this by 7 years (Grades 6-12) and then by 180 school days to come up with how much you are paying your students to not quit practicing. This has also worked for me in some cases. Of course, it works pretty well when you have a parent information meeting, booster meeting or a captive audience after or during a performance. Parents usually take a good look at these numbers, especially if one of your local college folks is doing the talking.
This can also be tied in with the new Richard Gladwell book entitled "Outliers." Wonderful research-based book that deals with music and how to master it. Check it out. Latest research.
One idea I used this year, in January I had my beginning year band fill out a self assessment and one question I included encouraged a self reflective response, "How can practicing at home support my ability to play in band and therefore have more fun?"
I received very powerful answers from the students in their own words. On another day I handed out the top 16 answers to students at band randomly then I said they have to go sequentially (I numbered the responses) and interrupt me (some enjoyed this part more than others) and shout their practicing advice. Once they shared it they wrote it on a very large poster. That poster is posted in front of them every rehearsal reminding them of their own words about practicing.
Joshua (and others,)
This has been a magical year for getting students to practice at Roberts Middle School. I accidentally "found" the magic. I cannot remember the reason that it started, but one day I had a group of students (about 25) in the band room - each grade level 96-8) was present. I told them to get in little groups and practice anything they wanted to practice - or find a spot and practice individually. To most ears, the room was filled with noise, but to me it was wonderful. The best part about it was to see all the smiles. Everyone thought it was tremendously fun to practice in what most people would refer to as chaos. During band classes that day, I announced to the students they could continue to come into the band room before and after school; after they eat each day, and during our assigned intervention time. From that point on I have anywhere from 25 - 40 students practicing in the band room before school and during intervention time. During lunch, about 20 students come. After school there are about 10 regulars. I know they are not practicing perfectly, but I am absolutely positive they have found the joy in practice and that has greatly improved their tone quality, their pride, and their closeness as ensemble members! NOTE: The morning students keep coming earlier! I don't have to be at school until 7:35, but I know if I wait until then, I will get frowns from about six of my morning regulars. They faithfully arrive at 7:15 every morning - even the morning after our concerts and after spring break!
I made it a point to "stay out of their practice time;" meaning I did not walk around and help them - even when I really wanted to do so. Instead, I pretend I am not present and let them enjoy their time of practice. The students (even 8th graders) started saying things like, "I really enjoy practicing at school." As time moved forward, I assessed they were "hooked on practice." Now, I occasionally will stop and give input, but most of the time I use band rehearsal to teach "good practice habits." NEXT, when the new nine weeks started I created a sign-in sheet. They sign in when they practice at school. After 10 practice sessions, the students receive a "TIGER ticket" - a school wide PBIS plan. When I assessed this approach was getting more students involved, I created a sign-out sheet for home practice. The students now sign their names in the appropriate slot on the sheet when they practice at home. (The name of every band student, sixth through eighth grade, is included on the sign-out sheets. Each day of the week is listed. They put their signature on the date when they pracitce at home, or at school.) I post these sheets on the instrument room doors - easily accessible to the students. This is based upon the honor system. Each week, I provide a weekly practice report in Progress Book. It is not a grade. It is an encouragement and praise approach to those who have started practicing more than they did before - even it is just one day a week. Results: The tone quality of the bands has improved tremendously. The joy has escalated and the pride is easily seen among the band members.
I hope these ideas will be of help. Pamela Rezach
Great ideas Pamela. Don H