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5 Tips to Build a Band Program from Scratch

You need a clear vision to build a successful band program at a new high school.

In the blog post, Case Study: Building a Band Program from Scratch, we learned how Daniel Berard built successful concert and marching bands at Fossil Ridge (Colorado) High School. Here is how he did it.

Tip 1: Focus on People First

When band directors first enter the music field, they believe that their primary focus is to teach music, Berard says. While that is part of the job, he says, band directors should always focus on the students and band staff before the music. “It’s about the people in the room first,” Berard says. “The music will get there once the people are taken care of.”

Tip 2: Start with the End in Mind

Have a plan and a vision for the band and try to meet the goals set in that plan. Berard looked at other successful bands to find strategies he could implement. “We could draw from these great band programs and find out what was really working and incorporate it into something here.”

Tip 3: Success and Setbacks are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Band directors should remember that both victories and failures drive a band. When the band or particular students experience success, make sure to celebrate, Berard says. However, when tough decisions need to be made, the best policy is to stay fair and firm.

Tip 4: Seek out Colleagues and Mentors

Berard understands that it’s terrifying to ask for an honest opinion, especially one that a director doesn’t want to hear. But he says that the advice of others will help the band and director improve.

Tip 5: Be Engaged in the School Community

The band is just one piece of the whole school system, and Berard says it’s important to support school-wide goals. As the performing arts department chair, he collaborated with the school’s administration team. “Try to get involved in those bigger-picture educational leadership discussions,” he says. “If the discussion is about making changes to the bell system, try to be engaged and figure out how that’s going to affect the science class just as much as how it’s going to affect the band class. Then, you can see how all those pieces have to fit together instead of always arguing just for your little piece of the pie.”

photo © 2017 Courtesy of the Fossil Ridge High School Band Parents, All Rights Reserved 

This article originally appeared in the 2017 V4 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.

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