Junior High Band
Lesson Plans

Year-End Plans

Keeping the students’ attention and having meaningful learning experiences through the end of the school year can be a challenge. Many teachers give up and just write off the last weeks of school.

It wasn’t as big a problem at the high school. We had our final concert the first week of May and jumped right into marching band rehearsals. (Our main focus was concert band and we only marched in a few parades in the summer.) Our first parade was a week after school ended so we were pressed to learn music, review marching routines, and issue uniforms. In addition, we always performed at graduation. While one of us marched the sophomores and juniors, the other rehearsed the seniors.

It was different at the junior high. We did not march. It was hard enough for them to play sitting still, let alone while on the move. I ended up putting together three whole-note written tests. I called them whole-note tests because they were open-note tests - get it? I had three different tests so a student who stayed in the program for three years would not repeat tests (See Whole-Note Listening Guide). The tests were based on videos which took two days to watch (See Whole-Note Test Study Guide): Canadian Brass Master Class and Jazz History, The History of Bands in America, and the Wynton Marsalis music videos Sousa to Satchmo and Tackling the Monster. The students received a listening guide which had blanks to fill in. They also received a study guide that covered the test questions that weren’t answered in the videos. The day of the test they were allowed to use their own listening guides and study guides but not their neighbor’s. The test had 100 multiple-choice questions, like all the other written tests, and it counted heavily on their grade. It was given the last week of school. Here is a typical year-end calendar of events - the last ten school days:

  1. Concert day - Our final concert was typically two weeks before the end of school. We rehearsed on stage that day and the concert was in the evening.
  2. Concert Evaluation day - (No instruments) I collected the section leader attendance reports and followed up with the students who had problems (See Concert Attendance for more details.) We discussed what went well at the concert and what could have been improved. We listened to the recording of the concert.
  3. Marching Basics day - Since we didn’t march in the junior high but the 9th graders would soon be in the high school marching band, we spent the day learning marching band basics. It was a fun new thing to do.
  4. Last Playing day - There wasn’t enough time for us to play all the tunes we had played during the year, but we played most of our favorites. The students were told to take their personal instruments home that day. Those playing school instruments were told to leave them at school so they could be used by the beginners in summer band.
  5. Lock and Locker day - - We spent the day handing in the combination locks and cleaning and checking off lockers.
  6. Video day 1- The study guides and listening guides were handed out for the whole-note test and we watched the first half of the video.
  7. Video day 2 - We watched the second half of the video.
  8. Whole-Note Test day - The students took the test. Again, they were allowed to use their own study guides and listening guides but not their neighbor’s.
  9. Yearbook/Listening day - The students signed yearbooks throughout the day. I put together a recording to listen to during the signing. The recording alternated something of a classical nature with something that was currently popular.
  10. Refund day - The students came to school for an hour and a half to pick up their refunds. They only went to first period and since I had first period prep it was a quiet day for me.

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.