On paper, a school band director is someone who serves as a conductor or an instructor to a group of student musicians. This person should be more than familiar with each instrument they are teaching, and have a strong understanding of melody, rhythm and reading music. This is an accurate description of a school band director, but it is missing the biggest piece of the job:
A school band director needs to be an educator first.
In my near 40 years as an educator and school band director, it was my job to light the spark for learning to play music in my students. The greatest success for me was when a fifth or sixth grader would come to me and ask, “Could you teach me to play this song?” Them approaching me in that way meant that I had piqued their interest, and they were ready to learn to play. Other than musically savvy, a school band director should be:
1. A great communicator
All great teachers are able to put complex ideas into the simplest of terms for their students. This is also true when teaching music. Describing time signatures and dynamics can be extremely complicated to a fifth grader. A great band director needs to be able to discuss it in a way that makes sense to them.
One of the biggest hurdles that children need to overcome when learning to play music is a lack of motivation. They need to be able to see a goal and believe they can attain it, and then feel good about themselves when they do. A band director’s job is to help them set those goals and to get them to want to play and get better.
A band director needs to be in tune with the students and to be able to make it fun for them. They should research what songs are popular for kids and incorporate them into their lessons. When teaching rhythm to a class, make sure that rhythm is a part of a song that they recognize so they don’t get bored.
4. Always learning
Most of all, a school band director needs to be open to learning new things throughout their career. They should talk to other teachers and incorporate their music lessons with the general curriculum, and search for resources for new ideas as often as they can.
For more music teaching tips, follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have questions or comments, post a comment below.