It’s the New Year!
The big holidays are behind us. Marching Season seems like a distant past (...ok, maybe not…). And we are about to return to our bands re-energized and ready for a new challenge. And as we prepare to head back, we are thinking of all the things we want to accomplish in the new year. It’s time to make our New Year’s Resolutions!
So how do we decide what resolutions are going to be successful?
First piece of advice?
We don’t make resolutions, we make GOALS!
In our society, the New Year’s Resolution is a half-hearted, short-term attempt to make us feel good in the moment and they are often abandoned by the end of January. So this year, let’s not make resolutions we don’t intend to keep, let’s make goals which will create an environment of success in the band program.
As you head back to the band room, make a thorough assessment of the program and where they are.
What successes have you had this year?
Where have you fallen short?
Are there any bad habits you’ve allowed to creep into the rehearsal?
These three questions can help you develop a plan for success for the new year. The successes you’ve had are the characteristics and skills you want to continue to foster in the band. Assessing the areas we have fallen short, gives us a focus to make a difference inthe next few months.
Be honest with yourself with the last question. What bad habits do we need to break beginning with the first rehearsal?
How’s your warm-up?
What are your expectations and guidelines for classroom dialog between student & director?
How is your rehearsal compared to performance? Is there the same focus and energy?
Now is the time to make the goals
for a better, stronger band!
The new year and the approaching spring often marks the beginning of assessment or festival season. Over the next week, pull out the recordings from last year’s assessment. Start with the performance recording before listening to the adjudicators’ comments. Evaluate and assess their performance. Use your state’s performance rubric and to fully assess their performance. Be the judge!
Next listen to the adjudicator’s comments. What were the areas most commented on by the adjudicators? What improvements has your band made in those areas?
Once you’ve identified the areas that need the most improvement, pick one or two. There may be a lot more, but we want to focus on only the one or two areas which are the most critical. By choosing no more than two, we give ourselves the greatest chance for success and we begin to lay the foundation for long-term growth.
After you’ve identified the critical areas, identify exercises to improve those areas.
If it’s rhythmic or articulation accuracy, find daily rhythm skills to implement in the warm-up.
If it’s intonation, find chorales and chord progressions to work on listening and tuning skills. (Also check out Ryan Addair’s book Tuning for the Modern Wind Ensemble)
If it’s technical facility or note accuracy, find exercises to develop technique in all the major key centers. (Be sure to check out 12 Keys in 12 Weeks)
Write down your goal!
This is important! Write down your goal. Share it with the students. Put it on the board. Everyone should know what the goals are for the spring. On the first day back, have a candid conversation with the band:
“Hey band, I was listening to last year’s assessment performance and the judges all commented on ____________. So over the next few months, I want to focus on this area and improve our success at _____________.”
A simple conversation like this allows your band to buy into and take ownership of the goals you are setting for the new year.
Make the most out of the new year. Don’t get bogged down with misguided resolutions. Identify goals for developing an environment of success in your band program!