Junior High Band
Teaching Tips

Provide Opportunities for the Students to Listen

One of our biggest challenges is motivating the students to listen. Listening is all-important to intonation, balance, tonal concept, jazz improvisation, and so forth. Sight reading is a painful process for most junior high bands. That pain can be greatly lessened by listening to a recording of the piece beforehand.

The director generally knows what the music is supposed to sound like. He has been trained to hear the music just by looking at the score. He is familiar with the classics. The challenge is to convey that mental image to the students. Many arrangements nowadays come with full-performance recordings or they can be accessed on line. Use them to your advantage. Frequently let the students know what their goal is.

On a related subject, I have seen directors who were obviously hearing everything perfectly in their heads but were completely oblivious to the sound the band was making. The importance of listening applies to the director as well as the students. Most of the time the students won’t know something is wrong unless you point it out, and you won’t know something is wrong without listening critically.

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.