Building the Strongest Foundation for Your Band or Orchestra Program

Building the Strongest Foundation for Your Band or Orchestra Program

Presented at the 2016 Georgia Music Educators In-Service Conference

Erin Cole, Tapp Middle School
Charles Laux, Kennesaw State University

Download Presentation Slides (PDF) Note:  Slides do NOT contain movie footage.


  • Quality Instruments
    1. Communicate with Parents
      1. Make recommendations
    2. Network with local vendors
      1. If parents must purchase online, steer them to reputable dealers
  • Appropriate Sequencing
    1. Promotes strong foundation and positive practice habits
    2. Plan short term and long term
  • Successful Classroom Procedures
    1. Have procedures for everything
    2. Be consistent
  • Pacing
    1. Rapid, but not too quick so students are not lost or develop bad habits
    2. Good pacing reduces behavior problems
    3. Impacts motivation and retention
  • Modeling
    1. One of the most effective teaching strategies
    2. Must hear characteristic tone quality
  • Encourage participation
    1. Take Volunteers to play for the class
      • Promotes confidence
      • Promotes peer assessment
  • Method Books
    1. Choose appropriate level
    2. Reinforce concepts from ensemble literature
    3. Supplement and customize your curriculum
  • Fundamental Tone Development
    1. Band
      1. Balloons
      2. Mouthpiece buzzing
    2. Orchestra
      1. Reinforcing bow hand shape through exercises
  • Ensemble Sound Development
    1. Chorales
    2. Lyrical warm-ups and exercise from method books
    3. Essential for the maturation of sound
  • Assessment
    1. Informal and formal
    2. Peer
      1. Rubrics
      2. All-state score sheets
    3. Teacher
  • Make Learning Fun
    1. Games, such as “Rhythm of the Week”
  • Selecting Literature & Programming
    1. Backward design – start with the goal in mind
    2. Choose literature that:
      1. Allows students to learn fundamental techniques
      2. Reinforces skills
  • Explores various genres, styles, composers, etc.
  1. Challenge students without over-programming
  2. Steer clear of the pieces with limited music making
  1. Pop, Film, & Broadway
  2. Themed concerts
  • Fun to reinforce the fundamentals
    1. Band/Orchestra Karate
    2. Rewards
  • Small Ensembles
    1. Strengthens fundamentals
    2. Provides different outlet for performances
    3. Motivates
  • Make Home Practice Enjoyable
    1. Provide a “to do” list for guided practice
    2. Give tips on HOW to practice
    3. Keep students accountable with regular assessments
    4. Incorporate Technology
      1. Essential Elements Interactive –
  • Learn From the Best!
    1. Regularly bring in visitors – composers, performers, conductors, etc.