Due to the significant changes in public school instruction system in America, it has become extremely challenging for a band director to have an outstanding band program. The changes mean students will have more customized options tailored to their particular needs and interests.
The amount of challenges affecting the band program is overwhelming. Let us consider some of the most recent ones: Academic achievement was set as a priority in public education with stricter attendance rules; adoption of a no-pass, no-play rule prohibiting students who were failing courses from participating in sports and other extracurricular activities for a six-week period; and national norm-referenced testing throughout all grades to assure parents of individual schools’ performance through a common frame of reference; school choice programs; grade level configurations; and, the push to increase the number of students enrolled in advanced placement courses. Additionally, many band directors work in high poverty area schools where they experience the following: high student mobility rate; diminished pool of talented students; lack of equipment; limited feeder programs; declined attendance at performances; and, the shift of program funding from the school to other sources, just to name a few.
These challenges, one way or another, have been in existence for several decades and many band directors continue to face them on a daily basis. It does not take long to realize that it is a tug-of-war between the band program and the rest of the school, not to mention the personal life of students. However, year after year, these new ‘Super Heroes” manage to have quality programs despite the hurdles they face. Above all, they have a passion for music and the band program, provide musical direction, find scholarships for the students, accommodate special needs students, implement differentiated instructional techniques, support district mandates for raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps, are responsible for fund raising activities and yes, in many cases have become community leaders.
Overcoming all of these challenges is certainly not an easy task. We must continue to be strong advocates fighting to keep music alive in our schools. We must continue to promote music and communicate to policymakers the value of what music education can do for a child — whether it’s academic, whether it’s social, whether it’s emotional — so that they understand the benefits of music education.”
To our Super Heroes, I say … keep the music playing!!!!!
Are there ways that you are advocating to keep music alive in schools that would be helpful to share with others reading this?