Get Others Involved, Part 1B: Older Students

In Part 1 of this series, I admittedly focused on getting younger students involved in the process of running a music department. But of course a more significant level of leadership training occurs in junior high and high school.

When I was in high school I served for two years as the Student Director of the jazz festival we hosted. That responsibility made a big impression on me. Although the band director could have done much of my work himself, I took pride in his trust in me. It was a major growing experience for me and I will always remember it.

When I took my first teaching position as a high school band director, I continued the student leadership positions (Band Council) which the previous director established. If I had it to do over again, I would probably expand the students’ responsibilities and generally take a more proactive approach to leadership development. I would also increase the number of student leadership positions to involve more students.

High schoolers have a broad range of talents which they’re ready and anxious to use. Those with artistic talents can do anything from designing band t-shirts to concert program covers. Those who are active in sports can be used to serve as liasons between the music department and athletics. Those with computer skills can create or maintain music department web pages. These responsibilities don’t have to be limited to music students either. Why not think outside the box and ask the video production teacher to assign a student to film performances and events? Why not invite the home ec department to sell baked goods at music events, or serve refreshments at a band boosters meeting?

I would love to hear from some readers who have active student leaders to get your insight on this subject.

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2 thoughts on “Get Others Involved, Part 1B: Older Students

  1. I had a wise mentor who told me that juniors should be the driving force and leaders in a HS band. I’m not sure I agree totally, but I see his point. Generally, by the time students are seniors, senioritis sets in, juniors are in the prime of HS and only HS, sophomores are still a bit to young, and freshmen just to little. I have also used councils with good success.

    Now that I’m at a MS, I’m just not sure the kids can be counted on to lead. Can they be at this level?

  2. Interesting point. Focusing on HS juniors makes some sense.

    In terms of MS, my band director actually had several of us conduct pieces at our spring concert. He did the bulk of the rehearsing, but handed the baton to us when the band was essentially performance ready. That made a big impression on me which I will never forget. Now that I am a teacher, I don’t know if I would be brave enough to do that!

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