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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009 Keith Ridenhour's Avatar
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    Default How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    I am doing mostly private teaching, working on my own chops, some jazz combo work at another high school and gigging lately.
    But I told our local Band Director that I'd volunteer to help him with his program. (Sonoma , Ca) HS of 1500 kids. I went into "concert" band rehearsal yesterday and he has 1 trpt, 1 sax, 4 clarinets, 4, flutes, 1 trombone, 1 electric bass playing tube or something parts and three drummers.
    1. Hes a brand new teacher here so this program isn't his fault. He inherented it.
    2. He is half time music (for everything) and half time math teacher. Thats not his fault either.

    So , my question has two parts. First can anybody reccomend any chamber music for this size band. Playing band scores is kind of silly.
    And, how would you as a teacher or student attract the kids who dropped out over the last few years?

    I'm going to come by and sit in with the band for an hour a week. Yesterday I helped the trpt player by playing soprano with him. He had the music marked up in a way I'd never seen before. Hard to describe but I think he was reminding himslf of the 2 flats in the key and basically writing in almost everything down an octave. I played trpt back in grade/high/college so I "get " it.
    The Band director seems to have alot of energy and wants this to get better so any suggestions would be welcome. Just like the other band directors I know he's working alot of hours (especially doing math also) K
    Teaching and performing since 1980. My best K .

    My band is Sonoma Soul , see it on my Ksaxman.com website
    Bands I gig with are http://www.myspace.com/jamijamisonband,www.thewhiskeythieves.com/,Sue Albano, The Joe Chaplain Band, BackTrax (60 70s coverband), and my webpage is http://ksaxman.com/

  2. #2

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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Put 3 clarinets and all four flutes and make them into a classical wind emsemble and take the rest and start a traditional jazz band. I had almost the exact same situation in high school and I was one of those students. Find a piano player if possible or guitar or banjo worse case scenerio. If you need charts, that's easy for the trad band.

  3. #3
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    Enviroguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    1. First, I'd look for woodwind choir arrangements and then covert the low wind parts for trombone and bass guitar. Use the trumpet on lead if you can. My church orchestra looks a lot like what you have and I do all the arrangements to take full advantage of what I have.

    For pep band and sporting events, you may need to take the regular marching band arrangements and plug them into a composing program. I use Noteworthy Composer because it's cheap, easy and works well. But there's plenty of others. Once you have them plugged in, you can transpose and combine parts to get a full sound out of what you have. For this type of music, consider picking up some volume enhancers for the clarinets so they can pull their weight. The Kelly Mouthpieces website has some I think. Rico Metalite mouthpieces would help too be the ones for clarinet are getting hard to find. And don't be afraid to add mics and amps to increase the sound. I do this for our flutes.

    2. First problem is probably school resources. If the administration will not commit to a full time band director, chances are that there is not going to be much support at all. I recommend finding some parents to help lobby to fund a proper band program with a full time director.

    Next, I'd get some music, practice up and then put the little band I have out front at every school event that they will allow. Make sure it's fun music and that it's fun for the students. This will show other students that something good is starting to happen in band. Then keep after any students that have dropped out. Once you demonstrate positive change, some might return. And then open band membership up to ANY student willing to join. I've let kids without any musical training set in while we play. I usually hand them a trumpet (because I have extras) and tell them to just push some buttons and blow. Without any chops at all, most can't get anything out of a trumpet that can be heard over the real players. But the idea is to let them get the fill of what performing in band is like. And if they stay, they usually learn pretty quickly. Since I arrange the music myself, I can tailor the parts to the players skill. I've got a six grader right now on French horn that just plays hole and half notes. Again, make it fun for everybody. Eventually you will build up your numbers.

    Oh, and start taking the kids you have, plus there friends, parents and anyone else that will go, on trips to see band competitions. Let them see what real band programs look like. This might help build that group of parents needed to lobby for support.
    Good Luck,

    Enviroguy
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  4. #4

    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    What about the programs at the schools that feed into the high school? Are they quitting before they even get to high school? A high school with 1500 students should be getting somewhere around 100 to 150 (or more) freshmen every year from the feeder schools.

  5. #5
    Forum Contributor 2011 Steve Stockham's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    I agree with the last post. You're going to need to find out what's happening with the middle school/junior high band programs. My guess is that there are not enough periods in the high school day to easily accomodate band as compared to middle school/ junior high. This was the case in my high school where we went to a six period day vs. the seven period day we had in junior high. The fact that the high school is down to 15 players (?!) means that there is no continuity (probably due to no reputation) between the schools. Why join band if there's no "cool" program to join?

    The immediate problem sounds two-fold. You have to find music that the students will enjoy and can also perform. As has been stated above, concert band is out until you can increase numbers across the board. I started in a small school with 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, a flute player that happened to also be a pianist, a percussionist that could play trap set, an electric bass player who could play bass drum and 2 alto and 2 tenor saxophones. I just happened to be a bari player! By luck, that worked out almost perfectly for a jazz ensemble which also doubled for pep band! The point I'm trying to make is that we didn't have ideal numbers but we took what we had and made it work! The next year added 2 clarinets, another flute, another percussionist a baritone, a trumpet and another sax (these are in excess of the two seniors we lost.) We were able to begin working concert band music again. It's a slow process. The good news is that you guys have a helluva lot more students to work from!

    You're definitely going to have to do some identifying of key parts! Who played trumpet, trombone, saxophone, baritone or french horn the last couple of years? IF they would be willing, might they join in a jazz ensemble class that might meet before school two or three times a week? This could lead to them changing classes at the 9 weeks or possibly semester. If you can get a visible program up and running, you have surmounted the first big hurdle. The second is to go down to the middle schools/junior highs and promote the heck out of your program to those 8th grade band students that will be deciding whether to take band or not in high school! If you do it right, you'll see significant growth in a year. You could have 40+ in another year and you could have 80+ the year after! It's really a lot like a fire! Small fires need to be nurtured and handled correctly for them to grow. It's always easier to build from a fire that's much bigger. It doesn't take quite as much finesse cause there's more flame, therefore more heat, to work with! It's not going to be easy! 1st year teacher.... program on the ropes.... BUT it's not hopeless!! Go for it!

  6. #6

    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Gotta love the California educational system huh? Wasn't Jerry Brown going to fix all the problems and provide Unicorns and Ponies for everyone?

    It is hard to keep kids in band in High School. Basically, a kid is either there for the credit and looks on his application for College, or they actually want to be there. What I would do is make it fun. No yelling. God damn, all the band teachers in my area yell and belittle students. And they get away with it due to tenure.

    I'd look into getting arrangements that the kids want to do, like movie themes, and what not. If you don't have the instrumentation, then you need to be creative and make it work. Maybe transposing some of the trombone parts for Baritone sax. Or whatever will make it work. If the kids are enjoying themselves, then they will want to do it. And word will spread, and then next you know you'd have a big program again.

    I'd also look into trying to get some Sonoma state music majors to come and help and motivate the kids.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009 Keith Ridenhour's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Thanks Guys I'll relay the info. K
    Teaching and performing since 1980. My best K .

    My band is Sonoma Soul , see it on my Ksaxman.com website
    Bands I gig with are http://www.myspace.com/jamijamisonband,www.thewhiskeythieves.com/,Sue Albano, The Joe Chaplain Band, BackTrax (60 70s coverband), and my webpage is http://ksaxman.com/

  8. #8

    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    The "pep" band idea is a great beginning, in our school itwas the most recognizable ensemble for being at all the sporting events and promoting the program. "hey I remember you guys from the basketball game Friday, you sounded great!" instead of "..what band?" We played the cool stuff and rocked with an electric guitar, bass, drum kit, keyboard, and woodwinds/brass.

  9. #9
    Forum Contributor 2012 Rondalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    by the way, thanks for volunteering you efforts to get this band program to work.

  10. #10
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Keith, I've worked with mixed beginner to intermediate-level ensembles for years in Germany, both in small town bands and in schools where bands were extra-curricular activities, and I've probably done a little bit of everything from using self-made midi-generated rhythm sections, to rewriting published music etc, etc, etc.

    In your situation, I would throw away the standard school band play book, i.e. concert band (eventually adding marching band) and go for a pop oriented program. There is nothing to say that this band program cannot include standard concert band/classical type repertoire, but what I mean is that it should not be a slave to trying to develop a traditional program. I say this for several reasons:

    - student motivation
    - - kids can be motivated to play just about anything, but nothing motivates them as much as music with a (here's that word) "beat".

    - audience reaction/recognition
    - - when the band is put out before the student body, be it sports events or student assemblies, the student body is going to react more immediately to "Moves Like Jagger" (even a simplified version) than "Great Gate of Kiev".

    - finding music that fits the crazed instrumentation
    - - it's not as hard as it would seem. Kjos Music's "Standard of Excellence - Jazz Ensemble Method" will work with all sorts of crazy mixes. And it's not only a collection of easy to medium level music that you can use in performance, it's a workbook in learning how to play rock, pop and jazz rhythms as well as basic improvisations. The band teacher could use this book as the text that the kids could be given homework from, so he could structure his band course.
    - - Barnhouse, Hal Leonard, Warner Bros., Jenson and others have tons of music for band at easy to intermediate levels that are written for minimum instrumentation, where doubling of voices works.

    . . . **when all else fails regarding finding a piece of music that you really want for the band, there's always the good ole download-a-midi-file-edit/arrange-it-in-a-notation-software-program way of doing it.

    There are several things I think your band director (and you as his supporter) might keep in mind.

    - get, and keep, the kids playing. No dead time in the classroom.
    - - If you don't have enough music, have some rhythmic "games" ready to go so that they clap rhythms in unison and also in groups against each other (i.e.polyrhythmic).

    - be constructively visible to the school administration.
    - - provide a little music at a school open house. How about a short caroling for the Principal and staff at their offices at Christmas time (schedule it ahead of time, do not surprise them!). Look for other ways to represent the school Principal to "his constituents", e.g. parents, visitors, etc. (in the Principal's presence, of course).

    - support (as mentioned above) school sport and other events.
    - - likely the most exposure your band will have. It is fun for the band. Lets them show off and have a little pride from it. Lets the parents say, "that's my kid up there". And it's also a recruiting tool for the band for more musicians, more school support from parents, faculty and administration. Always keep in mind that every sports event performance is an audition for something else and don't blow it off.

    One last bit of advice. Don't get overwhelmed by it all. Have a master plan so you have the large view of what needs to be done - but bite off one chunk at a time.

    Good luck to both you and the band teacher and good on ye for helping out!
    ____________________________________________________
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  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009 Keith Ridenhour's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Gary, I think I agree with you whole heartly. K
    Teaching and performing since 1980. My best K .

    My band is Sonoma Soul , see it on my Ksaxman.com website
    Bands I gig with are http://www.myspace.com/jamijamisonband,www.thewhiskeythieves.com/,Sue Albano, The Joe Chaplain Band, BackTrax (60 70s coverband), and my webpage is http://ksaxman.com/

  12. #12
    Christopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    What made me want to stay in band in high school was jazz band. It seems a little bit more "cool" to younger kids than concert band. If it wasn't for that I don't know if I could have put up with 4 quarters of marching band and the numerous football games.I know you don't have much to work with, but a small jazz combo would work.
    Selmer series II Tenor, Runyon Metal Spoiler 11, Ponzol M1 115, Rico Select Jazz 2M.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    There are lots of band arrangements out there for smaller bands or jazz bands and give the options of flexible instrumentation.

  14. #14
    Christopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    Get a fake book and copy some of the tunes that would work for their skill level. Or even have several small ensembles lead by the stronger musicians.
    Selmer series II Tenor, Runyon Metal Spoiler 11, Ponzol M1 115, Rico Select Jazz 2M.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How Can I help build a Band Program at our HS. What would bring "you" the STudent Back?

    as a high school of about 800 kids, i sort of know how this is. the only contribution i can tell you in order to get kids to stay is to appeal to them. My band plays Journey, Wickid, and pirates of the carribean! We don't have quite that little of members, but charts like that are avaiable out there. Also, it's nice to have one on one time and help with students. my school has "lessons" where once a week on alternating "periods" (which is what we call our different classes) go to the band room and get help by section with the band leader. This can take all the frustration out of playing something you just cannot seem to get, mostly because you have absolutely no idea how. i was in this boat just 4 years ago. If the kids can't really play their instruments, all it does is frustrates them and they want to quit. if you can't get the kids out of classes, try setting something up after school or even on the weekends. if the kids want to play, they will show up. youd be amazed as to how much music can effect the lives of the young.

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