We all know that being a band director is often not what we expect. Many times, we can feel like we’re a “conductor” of a different sort: event planner, scheduler, repairman, counselor, etc., rather than a music teacher. Well, here’s a Step-By-Step Assessment Survival Guide to help you “conduct” some of those necessary, but mundane tasks, allowing you to move ahead to music-making:

    • Carefully Read ALL Event or Activity Rules
      It can so easily be overlooked, but it’s important to take the time to read ALL the rules. Groups are, at times, disqualified over a director’s lack of rules knowledge. Being prepared is crucial. If time allows, perhaps confer with a veteran director who has participated in the event or activity prior.
    • Manage Transportation and Chaperones
      After scheduling the buses and assigning chaperones, be certain to create and distribute a simple, yet detailed, itinerary. This goes a long way in reducing questions, keeping everyone informed, and more importantly—on time!
    • Create a Seating Chart
      It’s crucial that students sit as close as possible in relation to the daily seating configuration as possible. Since the music will sound different in the new setting, it will help if each student’s surroundings are as similar as possible. Also, make certain the set-up crew receives the seating chart. An informed assistant or chaperone should oversee the set-up crew’s work.
    • Manage Percussion Responsibilities
      Be certain all of the small percussion equipment is carefully loaded: sticks, mallets, triangles, cymbals, other accessories, etc. If sight-reading is part of the assessment, pre-assign percussion parts to fit individual strengths.
    • Do Score Preparation
      In addition to studying your scores, be sure to gather judges’ copies. It may seem obvious, but I’ve seen instances where forgotten/misplaced scores also led to a group’s disqualification. Disqualification is understandably devastating to the students; they’ve worked so hard to meet their musical goals, only to have the prize fade away at the last moment. Also, make certain scores are numbered—many conductors forget this most basic task.
    • Have an Emergency Repair Kit
      Is your repair kit inventory up-to-date? See that you have a mouthpiece puller, different sizes of screwdrivers, oils, woodwind pads, glue, reeds, etc. Few things are more discouraging to a student than an instrument in poor working order.
    • Have a Warm-up and Tuning Plan
      Now we’ve reached the point where we can make some music! Do an easy warm-up. Play through some of the music, touching a few key spots and tuning very carefully—do not play through the whole program. It’s very important that students don’t overplay in the warm-up room.

    After you’ve made all arrangements and planned ahead for Assessment, your mind is clear and better able to focus on what’s most important—making music! Make certain students are truly making music, not just playing the notes! Also, stay calm and have fun—after all, it’s not like your reputation is in the hands of children, or anything!

About the Author

GREGORY SNYDER is conductor of the Nashville Youth Wind Ensemble, providing
an intensive musical opportunity and a deeper study of iconic wind band literature for some of Middle
Tennessee’s finest high school musicians. He mentors band directors and holds clinics for band programs in
Nashville and across the U.S. Mr. Snyder is an adjunct professor for Bowling Green State University (BGSU),
Bowling Green, Ohio, and Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn. He is director of bands emeritus, Lakota West
High School, West Chester, Ohio, and an elected member of the prestigious American Bandmasters
Association. For more information, go to GregSnyderBand.com.

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