For music educators - By music educators
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.
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