Motivation? Dedication?

This just may be a problem in my area, but I wanted to put this thought out there and get other impressions.  It has only been 11 years since I graduated from high school, and already it seems to me that students are not as motivated as they once were.  Or maybe dedicated is a better word.  I don’t know.  Here’s what I mean:

I feel like when I was in high school, we had students in our group that were totally dedicated to the program.  They would never consider missing a rehearsal, or God-forbid, a performance, for anything.  I can remember hanging out before and after school in the band area with a group of quite a few other students.  I took private lessons, and so did many other students.  Band was my favorite class of the day, and I just couldn’t wait to get there.  There more band activities that I could be involved in, the better.  All of my friends were in band.  If I was in the band, why would I go to a basketball game and not play in the Pep Band?  That’s where all of my friends were.  I would never dream of not preparing my music for a lesson, or a rehearsal, or a performance.  I could go on, but I think you probably get the idea.  It just seems that I am over-run with students who are not motivated to be better musicians, students, and humans, and who are not dedicated to the program.

Now, I know there are a number of factors that are unique to my situation that could have an impact on this.  The program has had 3 different directors in the last 10 years.  The band is a small group, and almost every student is involved in several other activities (that of course conflict with band in every way imaginable).  Perhaps that blame here should be placed on me and the way I run the program.  I know that my directors were very influential in shaping my attitude about the band.  On the other hand, maybe I just haven’t been here long enough to make that much of a difference yet.  Don’t get me wrong, I do have students that are very dedicated and somewhat(!) motivated.  It is just a very, very small group of students – like 5 or so!

Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated!

Book Recommendation “Pathways…” by Joseph Alsobrook

I am always looking for good books, especially dealing with music and teaching.  While attending the absolutely re-energizing 2008 PMEA conference in Hershey, PA, I picked up the following book: “Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs.”  It is written by Joseph Alsobrook and is available from GIA Publications.  I recommend it to any young teacher (such as myself) or anyone looking to add any great ideas to their arsenal.  My copy already has several post-it notes and pencil marks!

First Post

Even though I created this blog back in November, I am just now making my way around to actually writing something.  This is due largely in part to good friends Joe Pisano at Mustech.net and Travis Weller (Composing Like Mad).  I also thought that this may be a great outlet for me to get fresh ideas and perspectives, and maybe even to vent a little. 🙂  (Sometimes, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone!)  Just this morning, I was thinking of what my first blog could be about, and then came a moment in my 3rd period senior high rehearsal that was very interesting.

The group is working on Ticheli’s Loch Lomond, and doing well, although this piece is maybe a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.  Anyway, I had the group add a crescendo that was only written for the saxophones and clarinets; because my group is small, I wanted it to be more effective.  My first chair trumpet player, who is only a freshman, raises his hand and says, “Why did you have us put that crescendo in there?  I don’t like it.”  My first thought was, “Yes!  Here is a student who has his own thoughts about how the music should sound!”  To me, this showed a sign of maturity in his musicianship that was exciting!  It’s funny that something like a student disagreeing with me would be so exciting to me, but it was because here is a student that is beginning to make his own musical decisions….isn’t this exactly the type of thing that we’re trying to teach our students??

Anyway, there was my first bloggable moment, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  I am looking forward to continue writing here, and I welcome and comments that you may have!