Hi guys! I'm curious how other directors address the issue of accountability. I feel like I'm always fighting this battle to keep my students (5th all the way through 12th) motivated and performing their best. I think my biggest frustration is that these kids don't play up to their potential. I'm sure no one else EVER deals with that ;-) Anyways, I feel like they're trying to just skate through the semester and not put in any more effort than they have to. Any good words of wisdom on how to get the kids to take some responsibility for their own learning and their own place in the band?

Many thanks in advance!
Blake Long
3-12 general/vocal/instrumental

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Some possibilities here:

Do you place your better players on the ends nearest the audience?  If so, you might try moving your weaker players on the ends and your stronger players in the back.  (Reverse seating) If consistent with this and many (and early) public performances are scheduled, then the players realize that they will need to produce a bit more.  Rational is that the stronger players' sound will come through the sections to help every hear better.  Let me know.    Celebrate them for their smallest accomplishments.  

Parent involvement is really key here as well.  Practice logs are easy and don't take much time if someone is not producing.  I try and keep them super private and when we are among the middle of the bell curve, we're fine.  

Good luck...

Possibilities-

Can you engage students in small ensemble music, where everyone has their own important part to play? Even beginning band students can do this.

I believe practice logs do not work well to motivate student to practice- they motivate people to forge signatures and lie. Instead, I use regular playing tests in front of the class to make sure students are held accountable. They work harder when the other students will be assessing their performance.

Try to plan more consistent performance opportunities, such as having a special ed class come watch for a few minutes at the end of a class, or setting up in the library/office/campus quad to play during normal class time.

I am now retired, but when I taught middle school band, I created a "Wall of Fame."  This wall was in the school's main lobby.  I took pictures of students who deserved to be recognized for a variety of reasons: Excellent work, improvement in concepts, volunteering to do a variety of jobs, learning music not specifically assigned, practicing before and after school at the school building, practicing at home, doing work with Smart Music, memorizing assigned scales, helping students better understand concepts, etc.  It worked! They loved seeing their pictures in the main hallway - so did the parents!  It created an atmosphere that made them anxious to figure out a way to be recognized.  The recognition gradually developed band students who wanted to become better band students; earning the right to be featured in the hallway."  I featured them for one nine week period. Each nine weeks we'd start over. Respectfully, Pamela Rezach

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