You see the post now I would like to say why I decided to post this. We have all noticed in the past decade a significant drop in our bands. However in the past 4 years, Ive noticed a decrease in size and quality of our bands as a whole and its NATIONWIDE... yes I said it...
I saw a few bands this year and I am both bothered and scared. When I see the bands in Atlanta significantly smaller (including SWD) as well as bands in New Orleans struggling, I feel a sense of urgency should be called. Now this post is in no way intended to call any bands weak or say you guys are not good because I know we are all doing the best we can with what we have BUT I do see this thing getting worse every year.
Here in Houston, every black band is on life support, including the ones in the suburbs. The hispanic schools are hanging in there but the decline has started because of the lack of support for them. So in this case of urgency Im throwing out the question too not only directors but to students and parents as well:
What are WE going to do to fix this epidemic of dying bands?
Will it start at Home? Will us parents motivate our students to play music in schools? Will we send our kids to the inner city schools or will we send em to the suburbs?
Will the music majors in college try to get these elementary and middle school jobs instead of focusing on the high schools? If you graduate college and get a high school with no feeder and you dont have a middle school connection, you just killed the program.
Will us band directors be willing to work double duty to recruit kids like old school directors did? I remember Mr. Gerald Stewart at Smiley would come to my damn house if I missed band practice.
Will wealthy entertainers start to sponsor our programs financially? (yeah right)
Will students be dedicated to THEIR OWN BAND and stop being wishy washy and trying to change schools every year to be in the most popular band.
Sorry the post is so long but I just wanna see where our heads are. Regardless of the outcome we are all in this together, it doesnt matter what city, neighborhood or what school it is. We are all struggling.
It needs to start with the Parent/Guardian support. If these have no motivation to do anything at home, what makes us think that they can hang with a marching band???? MY generation....is pathetic right now. It has gotton to the point that its more negitive peer pressure than anything. Like i said...no parental support. so they look for it in their friends. IMO all these was judged off of BOTBs some years back...kids now a days base their decision on BOTB results. If that band didn't place first, in their mind...that was not the place to be. But then they got lazy the past few years and stopped coming to practice, would give up easily when Alumni of that band program comes back and tells them how sorry they are and talk for hours how it used to be....instead of helping them get better.
Stop going soft on these kids, they want the attention!!! so give them the attention of extra running or something similar. Make them work just get on their instrument, especially PERCUSSION!!!! tell them that they must learn Fight Song, Alma Matar, Star Spangled Banner and their 12 major scales/40 rudiments. make them earn their music!
I'll continue later...
1. Definitely lack of parental support. When I was in middle school, our concerts used to be packed with parents coming to see their children perform. Now I have parents not bringing their students to the performances because they don't feel like driving to the school because it is only a middle school band. If the parents don't show in interest in what their child is doing, eventually the children are going to lose interest in it. With as many students as I have, the gym should be packed with parents, especially with all of the advertising I do around the school and on the net. Don't even get me started on practices.
2. Something has really happened to the mindset of these students. It is like they want instant results on everything. They have no patience. When you are learning a new instrument, it is going to take time to develop the skills necessary to play songs that they hear on the radio. If they don't hit the note on their first try, they want to quit. Not to mention everyone wants to be an NFL and NBA superstar or a rapper.
3. Need for feeder schools. I think Glen Oaks, Istrouma, and Scotlandville all don't have a true feeder system. I do think that is going to change in the near future because EBR is converting an elementary school to a middle school due to overcrowding at the other middle schools. This should provide one of those schools with a true feeder school.
I think the colleges are already feeling it in Texas. TSU is getting smaller by the year and PV although theyre still doing a good job are averaging 100 students less than 10 years ago. Southern, Jackson, FAMU and Norfolk are really the only ones holding strong but you can hear and see a difference in their playing, demeanor and attitude than a decade ago.
Im real disappointed this subject isnt full of posts yet. I bet if I asked who smashed on who saturday, it would be full.
Something needs to be done. In Dekalb the only band over 150 is Stephenson and SWD. With stephenson being about 150 and SWD about 170. And these are programs that use to be 300+. MLK and Redan are maybe 120 flat. And MLK and Redan use to be 190+
I have been at Madison in H.I.S.D (Houston since1997. A program that was once 220. now we are 26 and adding first time players....SMH.