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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000273.txt from 1998/03

From: Dee Hays <>
Subj: Re: Challenges for Chairs
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 14:42:16 -0500

Gary L Smith wrote:

> On Tue, 03 Mar 1998 19:48:50 -0600 Dee Hays <>
> writes:
> >up. There is no "challenging" or other mechanism for students to
> >improve their
> >standing. I have heard at least one instance where a senior blew the
> >audition and
> >was beaten out by a freshman. With no chance to try the change this,
> >the senior
> >just kind of warmed the chair for the rest of the year. In previous
> >years, the
> >student had worked on trying to improve.
> Without knowing more of the circs, I'd be tempted to wonder how much
> chair-warming the senior did *before* being beaten by a freshman, but
> I'll let it pass.

The person who related this to me personally knew the student and was able to
state of their own knowledge that the student had regularly practiced at home
during the previous school years. However, in the senior year after the
seating trials, the student quit practicing and coasted the rest of the
year. Yes it shows that the student was not serious about music, but the
quality of the band suffers when a member of a section is not contributing.
Those 1st non-principal, 2nd and 3rd parts are an important part of the
overall fabric of the music and players need to be giving it their best.

> One option, with attendant pros and cons, is a "pass-off" system. A
> graded method book, such as the Rubank, is used at weekly sessions with a
> band director. If you care about what chair you sit in, you come in
> regularly and play. The session ends when you reach a line you can't play
> well or in about 10-15 minutes, whichever comes first. Whoever is
> farthest along in the book is 1st chair, next is 2nd, etc. A chart is
> publicly maintained, so you know if you're in danger of being passed.
> Chair assignments change immediately upon one student passing another,
> unless it would affect solo assignments for an upcoming concert or other
> extenuating circumstances.

The elementary school band here does something very similar (it is not the
same director as the high school). They have a sheet that lists "band
awards". These are generally specific exercises in the band book. The
student who has passed the most awards, sits in the highest position. Here
instead of changing immediately, the switches are made once a month. This
helps keep the band somewhat more stable yet is not so long that the young
student loses the connection between the hard work and the reward.

However, the student is allowed to attempt the award even if he / she hasn't
yet reached that spot in the book. The requirement is merely that they have
passed all the preceding awards on the list. For example, the awards might
be exercises 1, 21, and 41. If they pass these, they have three awards
whether or not they have completed the other exercises. The instructor does
require them to still do the in-between exercises and learn the material and
go over it in their lessons. However you could attempt 41 for an award even
though your normal lesson material is at exercise 25. This way the student
will get any necessary reinforcement of the techniques that he/she may have
managed to pass for the specified award exercises. It seems to work pretty

> Cons:
> If using the book as a section-ordering scheme,
> how do you go back?

See my comments above. Picking selected exercises lets a student play ahead
(and also demonstrate initiative) but still allows the instructor to maintain
an orderly progression through the material. My opinion would be that it
probably would work best at the beginner levels for as you say the more
advanced methods are necessarily linear in nature.

Dee Hays
Canton, SD

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