The time has finally come to rid the band room of grass (or those pesky rubber pellets) and stay indoors. The season is over and the band schedule can finally get back to normal. This may seem to be a relief to some and to others, the beginning of a spiral into depression. Well maybe not depression, but some would argue they enjoy marching band more than concert band.
Now that the season is over, there are several things you can do to make your program better. Reflecting on the season is one of the most important things you can do to help build your program. Evaluate each staff member and their contribution to the program. Look at what worked in rehearsals and in camp and what you needed to tweak along the way. Finally you need to transition your kids into concert band mode.
Reflection is one of the best tools to evaluate your year. I can remember meeting up with my staff over beverages and talking about the year and what we liked and what we needed to improve on for next season. This was a great way to also find out what happened in the past season that the staff hid from me. (Forgotten instruments, etc.) Take the time to talk about rehearsal scheduling and flow. Your minds are fresh and will have a better understanding now rather than eight months down the road.
Staffing is a vital part of a good organization. The right staff, both full-time and seasonal, can influence your program in ways you can’t comprehend. It can also send your program into a spiral that ruins the gains made in previous seasons. Evaluate each staff member’s contribution to the year. Consider their attitude, interaction with the students, and their attendance. I am regretful to say attendance, but we have all had that staff member who does not make it to enough rehearsals. They may be the most respected and talented one, but they can only teach when they are there. I have always said that I’d rather have a young up and coming instructor with a passion for learning and teaching, than an old pro who is never there. In the age of instructors with multiple schools, make sure you’re not the last priority. Your kids deserve someone there.
Transitioning into concert band mode should be seamless. The gains you made in discipline and structure should be carried over. That doesn’t mean to call them to attention when you get on the podium, but remind them of the concert band rehearsal etiquette. One of the most important things I can stress to you is to have a rehearsal plan. Post this plan and let the kids know what is expected of them. This will help them prepare for the rehearsal ahead.
Finally, rejoice that the marching season is over and embrace the new music making opportunities that await you indoors. For those who have do not have indoor programs with the drumline and colorguard, consider these performance avenues. These experiences will give your students more performance opportunities. Remember that we are performers, not rehearsal technicians! I hope you had a great marching season and keep that positive momentum going throughout the concert season.