CREATING A BALANCED BAND
During the first two weeks of school, we will spend a lot of time working to create a "balanced band." Each instrument in the band has a distinct voice and it is important that we have the correct number of students in each section to allow all of these voices to be heard in a clear and balanced manner. Much like a sports team, it is hard to be successful if everyone wants to play the same position (or instrument). Below is a brief outline of how we will go about creating our balanced band and we will update this information as your students progress through the process.
Part 1 - What makes a balanced band?
In the first couple days of school, we will discuss with the students why having a balanced band is important as well as how many students we would like to have on each instrument. We highly encourage students to keep an open mind at this point - most students don't have enough information at this point to even begin to decide what they'd like to play.
Part 2 - What is each instrument like?
We will demonstrate each instrument in our band. This includes everything from how they hold it to the sound it makes. Students will start to get an idea at this point of what might appeal to them.
Part 3 - Instrument "Try-outs"
These are not "try-outs" in the sense that they are attempting to secure a spot on a specific instrument. Instead, we are allowing each student to try every instrument. We bring in professional musicians on each instrument who will help your student attempt to make a sound on the instrument. Then, the student will be given a score that will help them keep track of how successful they were at producing sounds. This will further help the students refine their decisions.
Part 4 - "Instrument I ... to Play" Days
Over the course of 3 days, we will start to establish what our band will look like. The first day is the "Instrument I Might Like to Play" Day. On this day, each student will tell us what instrument they might to play. We will keep a tally of how many students have selected each instrument at that poin then show the students how our team currently looks. The next step is to point out where our team is weak and ask kids if they are able/willing to help the band by selecting something else. This leads us to "Instrument I Would Like to Play" Day. This is where we really try to define our team and make sure we have the correct number of students for each instrument. The last step is the "Instrument I am Going to Play" Day. At this point your student will be making a commitment to an instrument. This process is the MOST important thing we can do to get our band started. Correct balance is vital to the success of the entire band. We understand concerns parents have about students playing "what the band needs" them to play versus "what they want" to play. The concern is usually rooted in a desire to make sure the individual child is "having fun" with what they are playing. A band with bad balance is not fun for anyone because the band will not sound good. It's like a crummy pair of speakers playing your favorite song. Even though the song is being played really well, it just isn't fun to listen to. Now, imagine being in the performing group and discovering that no matter how well you play you just aren't fun to listen to.