Junior High Band
Grading Tips

Grading Options

Grades are given to monitor a student's progress. How the grades are figured is usually determined by the teacher. Here are some options:

Grade on Attendance - All of my undergraduate performance classes were graded on attendance. If you were there, you got an A. In a postgraduate choir we were given two free absences, after which every absence lowered the grade.

Grade on Assignments and Tests - After teaching twelve years I went back for a master’s degree. There were many reading assignments, written assignments, and tests. If you completed the assignments and did well on the tests you got good grades.

Grade by Contract - I have a friend who had a difficult class to control. The students didn’t want to learn and he eventually gave up trying to teach them. He decided to use the class to improve his skills on some of the musical instruments he was weak on. He gave all the students A’s, on one condition. The condition was if the principal ever walked in the classroom, one assigned student was to lie on the floor and act like he was having an epileptic fit.

Grade on the Curve - I did have a few classes outside of my major that were graded on the curve. No matter how high or low the scores were, only a certain number would get A’s, the same number would fail, and the rest would be spread out on the bell curve in between. On one test you could score 92% and fail. On another test you could score 60% and get an A.

Grade on a Whim - At the high school I worked with a choir director who was a perfectionist. Once when his top group wasn’t working as hard as he thought they should, he got mad and gave them all F’s that quarter. Then, when they sang their hearts out at the annual festival, he changed all the F’s to A’s.

Grade on Objectives - While team-teaching at the high school, we modified our grading system almost every year trying to improve on the previous version. In the end it developed into an “objective” system. Objectives were completed by passing tests, practicing, attending concerts, taking private lessons, and so forth. The number of objectives completed determined the grade.

Grade with a Practice Report - The high-school objective grading system eventually turned into a Practice-Report system at the junior high. The practice report was a full sheet of paper printed on both sides with places to record everything that affected the grade. (See Practice Report Form)

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.