Junior High Band
Survival Tips

Know Students' Names

When I registered for my next-to-the-last semester of college an advisor told me I was still lacking my humanities general education requirement. I figured that over 100 music credits and 20 foreign language credits would have filled the requirement, but apparently they did not. As a senior, I signed up for Humanities 101. There were close to 200 students in the class. The first day the teacher asked us to write down our name, major, marital status, and so forth, on small cards while she went around the room and took our pictures. This was in the days before digital cameras, and the cost for film and developing would have been a lot -- maybe she had a friend in the photography lab. A week later I saw her on campus. She called me by name and asked about my wife and music classes. I was impressed. I got a C out of the class, but I learned something valuable.

I believe that knowing the students’ names quickly is something a teacher can do to prevent discipline problems and improve the chances of survival. It takes some time and effort but it’s well worth it. There was a time when I had 425 students - approximately 200 7th graders, 125 8th graders, and 100 9th graders. During the first week of summer band for the 7th grade beginners, I would have the students print their names on the board, stand next to the name holding their instruments, and I would take their pictures. I would use the pictures as flash cards to learn the names as quickly as possible. Since I had already taken pictures of the 8th and 9th graders when they were beginners, all I had to do the first week of school was take pictures of those who were new to the program. Within a few days I knew every student's name and instrument.

I’m not sure why or how it worked, but I’m convinced it prevented a lot of problems. It seemed to help develop a positive relationship between me and the students and it impressed the parents as well.

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.