As a band director, I am sure you are aware that sometimes students don’t play their instrument in band class. There can be a myriad of reasons for this:
1) they forget to bring their instrument,
2) they are too ill to play,
3) they don’t have a good reed,
4) their lips are too chapped,
5) their instrument needs repair, etc.
At times, it can feel as though they may not be entirely truthful with their excuses in order to study or take a break from class/rehearsal. I never let students do non-band activities in band class. If they did not play in the band class/rehearsal, they were given a note for their parents. They were required to take notes on the materials performed in class and then required to practice at home those same selections for 30 minutes. A parent signature is required within two weeks to remove the daily participation grade of zero. If several days of zeros were earned, then the overall band grade would surely suffer.
Here is an example of the note the student not playing in class should take home to parents:
Today__(date)___, your child ______(their name)_______ was not able to play their instruments in class due to ___(reason for not playing)___.
He/She was required to take notes on what was practiced/rehearsed in today’s class and required to practice this material at home for 30 minutes.
In order to remove a daily grade of “zero” for this class, this form should be returned to me, ___(Band Director’s name)___, within two weeks.
Your parent signature states your child has practiced the 30 minutes on today’s material which will remove the zero for today’s grade.
After I started this policy, very few students missed playing in my band class. This note changed the physical and mental health of my students! They were healthier and remembered their instruments much more often! Students can state all kinds of reasons to take a break from playing in band class. Now you don’t have to determine if they have legitimate reasons for sitting quietly (or worse!) during your class period. You can hold them accountable for not playing their instruments in class, and give them a way to redeem themselves for acceptable excuses.
About the Author
Dr. RICHARD HOUSE is an Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. Dr. House has held similar positions at Claflin (SC) University, Augusta (GA) State University, and Bridgewater (VA) College. Dr. House’s degrees include a Doctor of Musical Arts in Instrumental Music and Masters in Trumpet Performance, both from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from East Carolina University. Prior to college and university teaching positions, Richard taught middle and high band for a combined seven years at Ligon (Raleigh, NC) Middle School, Enloe (Raleigh, NC) High School, and Chesterfield (SC) High and Middle Schools.He is an active professional trumpet performer and has over 30 years of experience teaching private trumpet. Professional societies include membership in the College Band Directors National Association, the College Music Society, the National Association for Music Education, and the International Trumpet Guild.
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