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Maximizing Your Summer Rehearsals

July 28, 2011

While to most teachers summer is a time of endless freedom; to band directors it is an opportunity to start fresh with a new group of students. Band directors will have more of the students' attention during the summer and these rehearsals become a key opportunity to start down the path to a successful field season. Here are a few hints on how to maximize summer rehearsals:

1. Introduce the Activity
Most freshmen don't know what marching band is. Talk briefly about the military roots of the activity. Explain what DCI, BOA and whatever your local marching band circuit is. Show DCI or BOA DVDs to help illustrate different styles and advanced levels of achievement. Talk about your program specifically; history, traditions etc.

2. Set Goals for the Year
Use your student leaders to help with this. Have each section bring two goals to the entire group. The goals should focus both on the competitive nature of the activity as well as personal growth for the band. Combine the goals into a poster that hangs in the band room as a consistent reminder of the goals and assign one of the leaders the responsibility of bringing it to the groups' attention once a goal is met.

3. Set the Tone for the Year's Rehearsals
Develop consistent rehearsal processes that put the student in an environment to achieve. Define how rehearsal begins and concludes. Set rehearsal goals and communicate them to students. Establish practice and attendance expectations.

4. Introduce a Visual and Music Basics Program
It is important to be consistent on what and when to give the student the best environment in which to learn. Have a short version and a longer one depending on time. Use leaders as assistants; break new students into sections with leaders. Use popular music for visual basics so students have to find the beat; this also keeps them more engaged.

5. Schedule a Parent Preview Performance at the End of Summer Rehearsals
This will help parents understand the process of putting a show together as well as give the students a sense of achievement. Parents will be better able to appreciate the end results having seen the beginning. The performance also promotes a sense of community within the parents and is an opportunity for boosters to make announcements, ask for volunteers, etc.

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