Preparing For Your “First” First Band Concert

If you are a new elementary band teacher right out of college, buckle your seatbelt for a bunch of firsts and that includes your very “first” first band concert.

Actually, you’ll find yourself flying by the seat of your pants without a parachute for the whole school year. The “Yankee Collection” could be your DC 727 and you’ll fly “First Class.”

Once you have established your band numbers in September, teach your students the basic five notes and fingerings; and the sixth note in October. You will achieve cruising speed fairly quickly. There is a plethora of easy five and six note songs in the first ten or more pages in the “Yankee Collection” to develop playing techniques in a fun way.

Now comes November. Still using the same range of six notes you can find a bunch of “Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas songs” all in their respective sections of… wait for it… the “Yankee Collection!”

Once you and your students made it through Thanksgiving, reality will set in. You might have an evening Holiday concert in the gym for the benefactors, you know, the Parents! Chances are, if any thing will make you nervous, this is it!

If you ever saw the Broadway musical: “The Music Man” by Meredith Wilson, you will know where I’m going. The first time they played a song as a band, they sounded horrendous, but their parents loved every note they heard, and they were just as proud as they could be of their Bobby and Suzie. If they recognized the melody the band was playing, the parents thought you could walk on water as the band director.

I just presented to you the worst case scenario, but you will experience the same reaction from your parents.

The first two or three years, my nerves were shot from from Thanksgiving weekend ’til the night of the concert. I don’t know when exactly but one year, the last rehearsal before Thanksgiving, I looked at the band and exclaimed: “We are ready to play the Holiday concert right here and now! From then on, my first concert of each year, I was cruising at a higher altitude. When you reach this point, the confidence you have will rub off on your students, and everything will snowball from there.

My recommendation is: do your nerves a favor and use the Yankee Collection. If you have the right materials to work with and a little experience under your belt you will be half way there in September. This is my legacy to music education for both the teachers and the students. Relax and enjoy the flight!

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