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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000796.txt from 2001/05

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Requirements for grade
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 21:06:26 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Hausmann" <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Requirements for grade

> Marching band, by its very nature, absolutely REQUIRES attendance by all
> players. In a concert, you may not notice a 3rd clarinet missing, but on
> the marching field that person leaves a huge, ugly gap that detracts
> significantly from the whole performance. Emergencies come up
> occasionally, but anyone who regularly does not wish to perform should
> home. Permanently. It is a teamwork thing. How would it be for the
> football team if the quarterback and ends decided they did not feel like
> playing today? What do you suppose the odds are that they would still be
> on the team next week?

If you sign up for marching band, of course you must march but you are
making the mistake of equating band and marching band. They are really two
separate activities. At college, a student could sign up for either or
both. You know how many you have for the marching band and the shows can be
planned accordingly.

Public school students don't have this choice. They are signing up for band
not marching band but in high school are required to start marching if they
want to continue to play and perform in the concert band.

Band does not have to equate to marching band. As I said before, define the
goals of the music/band program and design the curricula to match. If the
primary function of the band is to support the sports program and rally the
school spirit, that is one situation. If the purpose of the band is to
teach music performance, that is another situation. If the purpose of the
band is to teach the students how to play an instrument and then further
develop that ability that is yet another situation. Public school programs
generally present themselves as the last category.

> Band is a performance-oriented course, by definition. Music SHOULD be
> taught as well, and the more that IS taught, the better the band is likely
> to be. I think daytime performances for other classes DURING school hours
> would are excellent way to introduce other students to band and music in
> general. But you also need to perform for the parents, who are generally
> unavailable during school hours.

I did mention quarterly concerts, which would be evening concerts like they
are now. Parents would have a chance to see the students perform and it
would not be an undue burden for the students. Also remember that our public
schools have used band as an excuse to drop general music so that the
student's only opportunity to learn music is in band.

> >Marching bands and pep bands are really more geared for "rallying the
> >troops" rather than providing a venue for musical expression although of
> >course music is played. However, go to a high school basket ball game.
> >music keeps everyone pumped up but the audience only hears it as a
> >background to the game rather than as music.
> And your point would be...?

Point is although fun and even useful, this doesn't do much for the
students' musical abilities or development and they don't get the attention
of the audience for which they are performing. The attention is going to
the sport not the musical performance. Why perform if you don't have the
audience's attention? Because of this, I scarcely consider them to be
adequate performance experiences for the students.

> >You might lump this in with their "homework" but that puts a greater
> >on the band student than any other class they take if that student takes
> >his/her music seriously and practices daily. Let's add it up. 1 hour
> >day practice at home is 7 hours per week. Then add on the 2 to 3 hours
> >week required for participating in the marching/pep band activities.
> >9 to 10 hours. If all their classes required that much homework, the
> >wouldn't get any sleep. Even if they practice only half hour per day,
> >is still 5.5 to 6.5 hours per week. If they are taking a total of 5
> >classes and all the teachers gave that much work, the student would be
> >putting in 26.5 to 31.5 hours per week outside of classes. Add that to
> >30 hours per week that they spend in school for all classes and it gets
> >unreasonable. Yes, I know that most teachers don't assign that much but
> >should we make an exception of band and allow them to place excessive
> >requirements on the students in comparison to other classes get their
> And that's why band is an elective. If you can't keep up, drop the

It is simply not proper at the high school level to make one course so much
more arduous than the others. High school is not college. You cannot take
a low number of courses one semester when you have an exceptionally
difficult class and then make up total credits later with a higher course
load when you have an easy combo.

Besides that, examine the purpose of high school in any subject. It is to
provide a solid basic grounding in a broad range of subjects. This way the
student can then settle on what he wants to specialize in for college or
other advanced training. This is another reason that course requirements be
kept reasonable. High school is not to turn out a finished product.

The high school curricula has to be looked at as a whole and provide
balanced choices and opportunities for students.

>But how many composers can you name who were not at least capable
> of playing one, if not MANY, instruments? You have to learn to crawl
> before you can walk, and need to be able to PLAY music to even have a
> REASON to compose.

I'll have to do some research here as although I've heard names of composers
who could not play I don't recall who they were. Given some of the music
I've experienced some of them certainly had no conception of specific
instrument abilities. And why couldn't some one be inspired to study
composition and to get into composing through their joy of listening?

I've snipped the rest as I will be talking about more general areas than
responding to specific comments. If you read my posts carefully, I did not
necessarily advocate eliminating all performances for band students. A
reasonable number of performances really should be done. But the
performance schedule that many schools keep is inappropriate and possible
detrimental to developing performing abilities. Remember, these are high
school students and many still have a long way to go in developing their
playing abilities.

College/university bands are setup quite differently. They may have an
orchestra, audition only wind band, open wind band, plus a marching band on
top of all that. The college student can choose whether he is in the
marching ensemble or not. The high school student has no such choice.

In some areas high school bands are losing membership because of the arduous
requirements put upon them to support the athletic programs. The students
feel subservient to those athletic programs and feel that music and music
performance is not recognized in its own right. They want to play and
perform but they want the recognition for their efforts not as an adjunct to
the sports teams.

Besides that, even in supporting the sports teams there can be ways to
reduce the demands upon the high school student. One school that I know
about put on a half time show for only the homecoming game. For the
basketball pep band, students were required to sign up for 1 game per month
plus 1 time of manning the concession stand (this was one of their
fundraisers). For performance purposes (and for the parents), they put on
three concerts per year. Another school did indeed do all the home games
but did not put on a show. It was imply straight marching playing tunes.
That way they could spend their practice time on music rather than marching

Actually if the marching and pep activities were held to a reasonable level,
it wouldn't be objectionable to require it but we've had postings here and
on the bulletin board where the band puts in their regular band class
session and then on top of that practices an hour or more per day outside of
school hours to prepare shows. That is too extreme for high school
especially when the music educators are trying to raise high school band
classes to the level of other subjects in school.

So I implore you don't equate band with marching band. These are really
quite different entities. Don't equate college systems with high school
systems. Their goals and programs are of a necessity radically different.

Dee Hays

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