Where did the summer go?

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything since the end of the school year! Well, the school year ended up great, and I’m actually very excited for the school year to begin. Maybe even more excited than I have been in a while!

I just finished up attending a 2 day ed tech conference at a local school. It was the first one, and it was a great success. We had sessions on Wikis, podcasting, Web 2.0, and I even gave a presentation on blogging. It was a wonderful first year, and I am looking forward to attending future events.

We have some major changes coming to my music program this year, which is very exciting. First, my senior high band will be rehearsing all together in one period every day of the week. In the previous 5 years, they rehearsed in 2 separate periods, and only 2 days a week, since we shared the students with the choir program during the same period. I really think the group will now be able to play music at a level that is up to their potential. They are very talented, but we just didn’t ever have the time to prepare anything more challenging than a grade 3 level piece.

Another change to our band program is that we are going with only 5th and 6th grade participation in band, instead of 4th, 5th, and 6th. This will allow me to see the elementary band students 2 days a week…once in a small group with like instruments, and once in a large group “band” rehearsal. This is very exciting! We will actually be able to perform complete arrangements at our concerts, instead of silly 8-measure exercises out of the book!

Finally, we a receiving new marching band uniforms this year! After 3 years of asking, they were finally ordered last spring, and should be here in time for our first game, which is at home. I can’t wait to make our traditional march to the stadium in those brand new uniforms!!

So, things are shaping up to be a great year! Band camp begins on Monday! Just don’t ask me if I have finished writing my drill charts yet! 🙂

Numbers…Ugh!

Today was a good day until I started doing some number-crunching.  Actually, this all really started near the first day of school.  As I was looking over my rosters, I realized that I only had 40 students in band in grades 7-12.  This was disappointing – I’ve already talked about this here.  But today, as my colleague in the orchestra department and I were discussing our elementary schedules, it occured to me that I may not have as many elementary students as I once did.  I had remembered that a few years ago that I had done some number-crunching to prepare for a meeting I was going to have.  I remember that I was proud of the increase in the number of students that were in the band program.  So, I dug out that old paperwork.  What I found was, to say the least, depressing.

My first year at my current school was 2004-2005, and that year, I had approximately 40 students in elementary band, grades 4-6.  In the 2005-2006 school year, I had about 68 students.  And, in 2006-2007, I had 137 students.  Sounds great, right?  Well, last year, I started with about 80 students, and really probably ended the year with about 65-70.  And, based on what I’ve seen for this coming year, I think I’ll be lucky if I have 60 all together.  What is going on here?  I don’t think that I have been doing anything differently.  I know that I haven’t lost that many kids up to the middle school, because I consistently have small groups of 10-12 kids in 7th grade every year.  So, why is this happening?  And why does this problem not seem to affect the orchestra program? This year, the elementary orchestra will include over 100 students.  What’s different?  We recruit the same time and do instrument sign ups the same way, so why does she have so many kids, and I do not?  I have to admit that now I am beginning to point the finger at myself.  My confidence level is low!

Here’s the scary part: What are most administrators, teachers, and parents concerned about?  Not the quality of music or even the quality of instruction in the band.  They are only concerned with numbers.  And, what am I losing for some inexplicable reason?  Numbers.  I found a list of the 137 students that I had in 2006-2007, and I decided that I would see how many of those students were still playing their instrument.  Out of 137 students, only 14 are still playing in the band program! Help!  I am looking for answers.  I am completely dumbfounded.  I think I am a good teacher.  Are my expectations too high?  Do I make the band students work too hard?  Do they not like it?  Am I not enough fun?  Does it have to do with the fact that I can only see these students once a week because of the scheduling? I’ll admit that I want to re-vamp my recruiting process heavily.  But, these numbers have fallen without any change in the recruiting program at all.

I have no idea what to do, but something has to be done quick!  I think that I should meet with my elementary principals and see if they have any insight as to what may be going on here.  Any suggestions are very much appreciated.  I am really at a loss right now!