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Strike The Right Note: 6 Essential Tips for New Band Directors to Build a Successful Program Banner Image

Strike The Right Note: 6 Essential Tips for New Band Directors to Build a Successful Program

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by Rhoda Venture
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Fresh out of college and armed with the collective wisdom of professors and co-ops, you’re ready to make your mark as a new band director! So where do you start? And what do these first days look like? Relax – we’ll walk you through it with 6 essential tips for new band directors like you to build a successful program.

1. Set clear expectations on the first day.

The first step in building a successful band program is to set clear expectations on the first day. Your vision for the program will guide your decisions and give your students a sense of direction.

Think big picture but consider small details. If your program demands a high level of commitment from your students, let them know from the start.

tips for your first band camp

Explain classroom procedures for seating, instrument storage, cell phone use, music, etc. and practice them daily. Outline your grading policy and specify your guidelines for school attendance, rehearsals, band camp, community events, competitions, and so on.

We all like to know what is expected of us when starting something new –and students are no exception!

2. Learn names (and use them!)

This is a must-do for every new classroom teacher.  While you may see a LOT of students in a day, it’s super important to make a personal connection.

Keep a seating chart for each class handy or ask students to write and post their names on desks or music stands if you don’t have assigned seats. Then, make a point to call on each person by name at least once during the class.

3. Develop a strong curriculum – starting with what you know.

A well-rounded and comprehensive curriculum is the key to a successful band program. Including a variety of musical genres, styles, and techniques in your curriculum provides a diverse and enriching experience for your students.

Incorporate music theory, history, and performance skills into your lessons to help your students develop a deep understanding and appreciation for music.

tips for new band directors

And start with music that you know. Make selections that you are comfortable with, like pieces that you’ve played or conducted already. If you’re familiar with how it sounds, you’ll have a better idea of what your ensembles should sound like. Even better, you’ll get a better picture of your students’ skill level.

4. Foster a supportive learning environment.

Creating a positive and supportive learning environment is (of course) crucial for the success of your band program. You’ve probably heard these terms in every one of your undergrad education classes. But if you’re a new band director, making this Oz-like vision a reality may feel daunting.

Encourage open communication, collaboration, and teamwork among your students to foster a sense of community and belonging. Provide constructive feedback, encouragement, and support to help your students grow and improve as musicians.

tips for new band directors bandroom

Here’s a simple bit of advice… be approachable! Step away from the podium and move around the room as you teach and answer questions. Play your own instrument occasionally so students know you’re a musician, too.

And for goodness’ sake, SMILE!😊 It really is ok for new directors to smile and laugh with students without losing control of the bandroom!

5. Recruit and Retain Talent

Recruiting and retaining talented musicians is clutch to building a successful band program. A good feeder program can make or break your own!

Get in the habit of being visible at the lower levels. Attend middle school performances, host recruitment events, and collaborate with other music teachers in your district on multi-level performances.

One of our favorite tips for new band directors is to build excitement and interest in new recruits by planning an annual or semi-annual band trip.

Keith Kelly with band in Ireland

Travel is a key part of a well-rounded education. It positively impacts academic performance, self-esteem, independence, and confidence. Students who travel have a strong sense of their place in the world, are more tolerant and respectful of others, are more collaborative, and adapt more readily to new situations.

10 Travel Tips for Band Directors

Want a Veteran Perspective? One Band Director Shares His Motivation for Traveling NOW…

Read more

Need ideas? Click below for standard favorites

(and a few fresh ideas!)

tips for new band directors

There are so many options for amazing travel experiences. Not only will your current crew look forward to a trip, but younger students will be counting the days until it’s their turn to go!

If you have no idea how to begin planning your band trip, connect with a student travel planner like Kaleidoscope Adventures. They’ve been a leader in exceptional performance travel for students since 1993 and will make planning your trip easy and convenient.

6. You are not alone.

Of all the tips for new band directors we’ve discussed, this is the most important. Understand that you are not alone. Sometimes music directors may feel isolated from other school staff or even other band programs.

It’s up to you to bridge these gaps. Get involved in school-related activities outside of your program. Volunteer in the community. Take an active role in music educator associations.

Most importantly, capitalize on the resources available and learn from the pros! Attend conferences like Midwest Clinic or the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME.) These groups exist to connect directors from around the world, provide opportunities to learn, discuss the latest innovations in music, and share best practices.

Check out a podcast geared specifically for band directors. A good podcast is like having your own personal mentor – get inspired on your way to work or as you grab a bite of lunch.

The Ultimate Playlist: 5 Best Podcasts for High School Band Directors

And don’t discount the power of a good blog. Sites like The Kaleidoscope and Music Educator Resources are packed with ideas and information for music educators.

6 Essential Tips for New Band Directors to Build a Successful Program

As you forge a path and begin to build your band program, remember that what you do matters. Students may find the band for all sorts of reasons, but they’ll stay involved because of you!

Set expectations, get them excited, inspire by example, and stay connected – you’ll be the buzz of the band world before you know it!


Why Kaleidoscope Adventures?

As a leader in the student travel industry for 30+ years, Kaleidoscope Adventures exceeds expectations for student and performance group travel.

We’ll work with you to plan an exceptional travel experience and provide impeccable customer service from start to finish

Learn More

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