Is a General Music Teacher Qualified to Teach Band Instruments? Or Vice Versa?

Is a general music teacher qualified to teach band instruments? (or vice versa?) Are band directors qualified to teach general music? Of course there are those that can do it all out of necessity, but ask yourself if you would you be happy in your work. The real question, I suppose is: which job would you rather be doing? Also, why do bosses take you off what you do best and make you do something you don’t do as well and dislike?

After 15 years of teaching elementary band classes, the director of all the music teachers in our city was replaced. Prior to this event I was extremely happy in my work. Yes I was a 5th and 6th grade band teacher but had to teach general music one day a week. For me, I had to take the “good with the bad”

I managed to survive the “music on wheels” program with a turntable and scratched up vinyl LP’s . Later I had the state of the art reel to reel tape recorders and then cassette players and tapes were introduced a few years into my career. Next came CD’s which were a vast improvement in tone quality and clarity, but still no decent sound systems were supplied by the schools.

If that sounded dismal…….WELL IT WAS!

After seeing my successful band programs, my new boss started giving me more general music classes each year and fewer band classes. Within 10 years I was teaching one day band and four days classroom music. He eventually phased me out of the band program totally. #Notgood! You can only imagine what my attitude was after that.

Some situations dictate that one music teacher becomes “THE” music teacher in a small town. No choice there. You do what you gotta do……..Everything!!!

One fall we had a contract dispute and music was the first to be whittled down to a skeleton crew in the city. That being one choral and one band director in each of the three public high schools. A colleague of mine shared with me that she would not accept any instrumental position since that was not part of her general music degree. She is a pianist/church organist and knew very little about the workings of marching band instruments. Fortunately, the contract was resolved and most of us returned our previous status. But she still knew what she wasn’t qualified to do.

I guess what I am really saying is: I’ve been on both sides, and I don’t think that I would have been prepared as a general music educator being forced to teach elementary band or even more difficult string instruments.

By the way, I was one who was dealt lemons and made lemonade. Since I had to teach K through 4th grade songs, when I retired I put together an elementary band supplement book called “The Yankee Collection” based on the songs that kids loved to “sing” in the lower grades. Now they can “play” them too. Check it out!