UPDATED! The First Week of Band - Setting the Stage for Success

22 years of teaching middle school band and I still get excited about beginning a new school year. Seeing eager new and returning students is invigorating and reminds me of why I became a teacher. The importance of our actions cannot be underestimated during those critical first days. Simply put, plan for success. What is the goal for the first week? What do you want the students to accomplish? Plan each day with this goal in mind. Use the ideas below to plan for your best year ever.

  • Greet your students at the door and welcome them. Smile! Show them how excited you are about the great year they are going to have.

  • Decide which day will be the first day of playing. For some students, this may be the first time they played their instruments since school let out. Focus on the fundamentals for the first rehearsals: posture, breathing, tone production, long tones, etc. Developing these skills is critical to their success later in the year.

  • Show your personality! Tell your students about something really funny or embarrassing that happened to you over the summer. Show pictures from a really cool summer vacation. Or, wear something unique! Kids love to see their teacher's personality.

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  • Create a short presentation that outlines all that is happening in your music program this year. By the end of class, the students should have a pretty good idea of what they can expect in your class. For example, highlight concerts, special performances, festivals, trips, lock-ins or other activities they can look forward to.

  • Have all handouts like permission slips, calendar, binder cover, instrument contracts, practice journals, method books, syllabus, handbook and even music on the students' chairs when they enter. I even have labels with the students' names on their handouts waiting for them on their seats. This is great time-saving tip because you do not have to waste time passing out multiple documents during class. We all know how busy the first few days of school are and getting anything copied before school starts is a smart move.

  • Design a classroom management system that works for you and the students. Expectations and procedures should simple and easy to remember. You might not go over these on the first day, but have the rules posted in the room and in your handbook or syllabus. Spend the rest of the week teaching and reviewing the expectations and procedures.

  • Give every student a pencil. Although, this is not any ordinary pencil. Attach a Velcro sticky tab so that it can be stored inside their music folder or binder. This is a great way to ensure that your students always have a pencil in rehearsal.

  • Update the music website and LMS with the most current information, including all rehearsal and performance dates. Nothing is more frustrating to a proactive parent than when they go to the music website and there is outdated information.

  • Finally, be organized. Have all audio and video set-up, tested and ready-to-go. Handouts and music should be organized to pass-out efficiently. Know exactly how much time you have and how much time it will take to get through your agenda.

Remember, learning is a process and success doesn't happen overnight. Make adjustments as you need to and have fun. Continue to set goals for yourself and your students. Choose great music and teacher your tail off! And, always keep the focus on the students.

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