When I began turning my band around during my second year, I received some of the best advice ever from one of my former band directors. He noted that he had observed three Rehearsal Skills that were lacking in most bad bands. These same three Rehearsal Skills are present in most great bands. The three skills are:
- Do not turn and talk to your neighbor when you are not playing.
This eliminates the “but we were talking about the music” part of the “DO NOT TALK” equation.
- Sit still and quiet when the band director is working with another section.
I don’t have any idea how many times kids got up without asking to during my first two years. This finally put a stop to it.
- Always stop at the stopping point.
This means if I say we are going to play measures 25-32, we will not play any notes in measure 33. If I say 5 notes, I mean 5 notes. I will usually say something like, “Okay, play the first four measures. How many measures are we going to play?” This way I can stop conducting and immediately point out GOOD and bad things that happened.
Once I began to focus on those skills (really keying in on one at a time), things began to drastically improve in my class.
I want to see if we can apply these three skills to any generic classroom setting and then invite you to further customize them to work with your specific classroom setup. We might start with something like:
- Do not turn and talk to your neighbor without permission.
- Sit still and quiet while the teacher is working with other students.
Those two are easy enough to transfer. How would you translate the stopping point thing to an academic classroom setting? How could these skills be applied in art or sports?