Junior High Band
Teaching Tips

Show Them How

It's generally accepted that the more senses students use during the learning process the more information they will retain. A lecture about how to play an instrument is not as helpful as a lecture combined with a demonstration. The lecture/demonstration is more helpful if the students have their own instruments to play. Being able to hear, see, and feel how to play the instrument helps the students learn faster. If they could smell it and taste it, they might learn faster yet.

The same is true of most aspects of teaching band. Most of the directors I observed always had their instrument or instruments close. They would often pick them up and demonstrate. In other words, don't just tell them how to finger the note, also show them. Don't just tell them they are flat or sharp, also show them what the pitch is doing with a strobe. Don't just tell them they are playing the part wrong, play it correctly for them. Don't assume they know how the whole piece is supposed to sound, show them by playing a recording of it.

When a student was struggling to play a part, I would often stand by him and play the part with him. Hearing me play it correctly motivated the student to try harder to play it correctly.

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.