Serious Question: Are our inner city high school bands on their deathbed? If so where do we start to fix it.

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.

 

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personally i dont think UIL or funding is the issue here becasue when i was in high school we did UIL marching 1 time and our band still was big (yates hs) the breed of children are just different! bottom line! kids dont think band is meaningful or cool so until we change that mindset...we can play blame games all day... i dont need $ to run a band program because i never had $ to begin with lol... we just need kids that are willing to learn/join and support from parents and community members... then we could talk about funding once we get the kids in... . just my opinion..

rj

What you said about band being "cool" is a good point but I don't think you can really say that for bands nationally.  I think another point is that in this time of multi-tasking and whatnot we all value our time much more, and it seems that a lot of kids will not want to be in a program that is rebuilding because they don't want to put their time in.  Small programs get bigger because of the kids who stay in the program to rebuild it.  My HS had a bunch of kids who dropped band because even though we were growing substantially the competitions weren't saying so.  We had all these kids who dropped to become athletes because they think that's a better use of their time.  

Once students and families better realize what kids gain from a band program the money and other things shouldn't be a problem.

Okay, I am going to share my plan with everyone. Let me know what you think about it, and I think this is something that will work. I am open to suggestions and formulating a plan to assist all who are interested. I will not keep something that could potentially assist our plight from everyone on this site. It is something that we are going to put into place to aide our situation. All the suggestions on here are great, but "action is the key."

 

Greetings, the following information pertains to efforts to improve the Instrumental Music Programs within the Jack Yates Feeder Pattern. This program is notably titled, “Jack Yates High School Feeder Program Music Initiative Project-(MIP),” and its mission is as follows;

  • All student musicians receiving additional training in learning their musical instruments.
  • Students increased participation in UIL Music events (Concert Band, Marching Band, and Solo and Ensemble).
  • Development of a “mentorship program” between the Jack Yates High School Band students, and participating 6th, 7th, and 8th grade band students within the Yates Feeder Pattern.
  • Opportunities to improve recruitment and retention for instrumental music programs from the elementary school through high school levels.
  • Revitalization of programs within the Yates Feeder Pattern for continued growth.
  • Offering opportunities for students to develop necessary musicianship skills to earn collegiate music scholarships. The focus of the “MIP” is to present opportunities to develop musical skills in preparation for auditions to various collegiate music programs.
  • Effective motivational strategies for all participants through scheduled music activities and events.

                This “Music Initiative Project” will be a comprehensive program requiring support from each schools administrative team, band directors, sponsors, and band parents. Moreover, this type of support is required to achieve total success within this program. Most importantly, this program’s expectations will grant the child a “memorable musical learning experience with long term positive implications.”

 

How to Initiate MIP

                The “MIP” consists of the following format being established for success:

  • Cullen and Ryan Middle School 7th and 8th grade band students will actively participate within the Jack Yates High School Band Program during the 2011-2012 school year in specifically scheduled activities.

-          Participation in the Jack Yates High School Marching Band, Concert Band, and by audition process the JYHS Jazz Ensemble.

-          Participation in UIL Music Events.

  • It is requested that each middle school band director participates in the scheduled music rehearsals and other scheduled activities with their given band students.
  • Permission will be asked of each middle school principal for their music students and band directors to participate in the “MIP.”
  • The 7th and 8th grade overall progress will be recorded. Information can be granted to all parties involved, including methods for areas of improvement. This information will be possessed to be forwarded to participating collegiate music programs for potential future recruitment purposes.
  • Coordination with various collegiate music programs in conducting musical clinics, a private lesson program, and academic tutorials.
  • The initiation of cooperation with selected community music programs in assisting student development to reach the goal of students developing musical skills to potentially audition for future collegiate music programs.
  • Monitoring of participants academics on a consistent basis.
  • Establishing a “Peer Assistance Tutorial Program” for all student participants, utilizing the academically strong JYHS Band members.
  • Encouragement of continued participation of students through a “MIP Mentorship Program.”

-          Academic success being rewarded through induction into an established music honor society known as the “Tri-M National Music Honor Society.” This honor society is sponsored by the “Music Educators National Conference and the National Association for Music Education.”

-          Establishment of an identified student-musicians social club for males-“Legato” (smooth and connected) and females- “Dolce” (soft and sweet).

This comprehensive involvement will result in strengthening the participating students overall development, thus resulting in additional positive motivation and support for band students at Cullen and Ryan Middle Schools. Student participation will create a positive effect on academic and musical success. Also, immediate feedback to parents on every participating student’s academic progress will be the trend. Emphasis will be focused upon “achieving academically and strengthening musicianship at a greater level.”

Initiation of MIP

The “MIP” starting period for participating 7th and 8th grade band members will begin with attendance to the Jack Yates High School Summer Band Camp 2011. The start date for this event will be August 1st, and a designated schedule will be generated for 7th grade musicians. 8th grade musicians are requested to attend the scheduled camp on the start date of August 1st. Each students start date will be their inclusion in the “MIP.” More importantly, there will be important paperwork, such as general medical forms and insurance information, which the parents are required to complete.

“MIP” Mentorship Program

The initiative of the “MIP” Mentorship Program is based upon the following layout;

  • Jack Yates High School band members will be assigned to mentor assigned Cullen and Ryan band students.
  • Mentorship involves positive communication, academic encouragement, and positive musical assistance.
  • JYHS band students will serve as “student models” for desired behavior and academic progress throughout their assigned middle school band student’s participation in the “MIP.”
  • JYHS band students will recommend their mentees for various recognition and scheduled awards.

7th and 8th grade band students will be organized into mentor groups for selected elementary school music groups within the Yates Feeder Pattern. These students will encourage their elementary school mentees to remain in music and excel academically. An informal newsletter will be formed to provide music education advocacy for the elementary school parents, and to encourage the parents to allow their child to continue in music education within the Yates Feeder Pattern from elementary school through high school.

The goal of the mentorship program is to strengthen various levels of the JYHS Feeder Patterns Music Programs. Moreover, cooperation of this type will result in the occurring at each level-improving the musical situation within the JYHS Feeder Program.

 

“MIP”- Benefits of Participation Synopsis

  1. All students will receive additional musical training.
  2. Increase participation in UIL Music Competitions.
  3. “MIP” Mentorship Program.
  4. Peer Assistance Tutorial Program
  5. Positive recruitment and retention for the entire JYHS Feeder Program, and strengthening music programs within the JYHS Feeder.
  6. Involvement in scheduled music clinics and musical performances
  7. All participants will receive a “MIP Student Portfolio” placed into a database for progress and future collegiate recruitment opportunities.
  8. Preparation of students for future collegiate music scholarship auditions
  9. Possible assistance from community music programs and private lesson programs
  10. Participation in a comprehensive music program with exposure to various performance ensembles
  11. Increased parental/guardian ensembles
  12. Possible induction into music honor groups (Tri-M Music Honor Society) and participation in student musician social group for male and female students.

 

We've already felt the decline in our bands in Dallas since the late '90s. Of course back then, some of the big named schools held on like every other big named school in the nation as far as numbers, quality and dedication is concerned. It's not just the fact that people here lost interest, not just the parents, not even just the kids, but it's also about the school system slowly removing music from education. I think it's also because a lot of parents and teachers don't feel that music would bring the family and generations to come a good future, which is really not true at all. Music is supposed to be a good outlet/escape route to not only keep kids away from trouble, but it's also a good way to keep kids in the classroom and make better grades.

 

One of the solutions that I think would make a great benefit to get more kids involved in our music programs is setting up ALUMNI bands to show as much love and support possible for our schools. My alma mater (David W. Carter HS) and our rivals (Justin F. Kimball HS) has just started alumni band programs over the past few years, with my school starting ours this past summer. We also have to understand that some of our schools are in rebuilding processes and it has to take a lot of time, patience and finances, not to mention what I stated earlier, to get our programs back to where they used to be. 

 

Secondly, what we have to do as far as our band programs are concerned is to stop limiting ourselves to just several certain feeder schools and expand our recruitment base. Just because a school district's rules says otherwise doesn't necessarily mean there's not enough talented kids anywhere else around the area. There are plenty of kids who would love to go to the school of their choice because of the talent a certain program has. If you look at a band program like Townview's, for example, they have had the numbers my school once had due to the talent instilled in that program. Mr. Dean Hill (Townview's director of bands) has done a heckuva job building up his program to its fullest potential from what I observed over the past few years. Another band to watch out for hails from Sunset HS, a predominately Hispanic school. Under the direction of what I believe to be one of Dallas' first female head directors, Ms. Demetriuss Smith (sp), this program, believe it or not, is on the rise...

 

This goes to show that it not only takes dedication and talent from the kids and support from the parents and former students, but it also takes a boost in recruitment to somehow get our schools back into the spotlight we once gained...

That is not a good Idea.HISD has open zoning and that has hurt ALL programs (except Westside). From my understanding now you can go wherever you want in the district. When you combine that and taking music/programs out of the schools then you have mass flight from those schools to other schools...HISD has a whole 4A district full of schools with large 3A enrollment. And all of those schools look NOTHING like the other (hispanic/white) schools. Its sad when your Middle school has more programs than the high schools, and they will even take programs out of the middle schools. They absolutely took music out of elementary schools. But you can see some schools that have feeder programs are doing better than those that don't. Those suburban band programs have no problems getting kids every year even when their band is not even good 

Keven Johnson II said:

We've already felt the decline in our bands in Dallas since the late '90s. Of course back then, some of the big named schools held on like every other big named school in the nation as far as numbers, quality and dedication is concerned. It's not just the fact that people here lost interest, not just the parents, not even just the kids, but it's also about the school system slowly removing music from education. I think it's also because a lot of parents and teachers don't feel that music would bring the family and generations to come a good future, which is really not true at all. Music is supposed to be a good outlet/escape route to not only keep kids away from trouble, but it's also a good way to keep kids in the classroom and make better grades.

 

One of the solutions that I think would make a great benefit to get more kids involved in our music programs is setting up ALUMNI bands to show as much love and support possible for our schools. My alma mater (David W. Carter HS) and our rivals (Justin F. Kimball HS) has just started alumni band programs over the past few years, with my school starting ours this past summer. We also have to understand that some of our schools are in rebuilding processes and it has to take a lot of time, patience and finances, not to mention what I stated earlier, to get our programs back to where they used to be. 

 

Secondly, what we have to do as far as our band programs are concerned is to stop limiting ourselves to just several certain feeder schools and expand our recruitment base. Just because a school district's rules says otherwise doesn't necessarily mean there's not enough talented kids anywhere else around the area. There are plenty of kids who would love to go to the school of their choice because of the talent a certain program has. If you look at a band program like Townview's, for example, they have had the numbers my school once had due to the talent instilled in that program. Mr. Dean Hill (Townview's director of bands) has done a heckuva job building up his program to its fullest potential from what I observed over the past few years. Another band to watch out for hails from Sunset HS, a predominately Hispanic school. Under the direction of what I believe to be one of Dallas' first female head directors, Ms. Demetriuss Smith (sp), this program, believe it or not, is on the rise...

 

This goes to show that it not only takes dedication and talent from the kids and support from the parents and former students, but it also takes a boost in recruitment to somehow get our schools back into the spotlight we once gained...

From a junior in high school at Washington Marion high out of Lake Charles, La, The Highest number of people in a band that i have seen so far has been 80-90 members, maybe this may change but everything said thus far has been true.  

 

1. Feeder schools have been in a drought.

2. Parents think their  children are wasting time in band and are not  very supportive toward the band programs, because during summer practice  and for performances I had to ride my bike about 4.5 miles to school because my mother felt she didnt have time to bring me.

3. NEGATIVE COMMENTS TOWARD THE BAND!  Band members talk down about themselves more than anyone else because they saw alumni telling band members they suck, BUT the band members fail to realize that the "cold" alumni were sorry when they first started as well.

 

As for where do we start.  I say more performances showing how much fun it is to be in the band, because as middle and elementary school kids they are not seeing the band program enough to have that urge to join the band. And pray about it.

The band im in is pretty good at times and i see wat you mean my band is like that we are declining in numbers we have more auxiliary than wind or percussion players ... the only time a lot of ppl jump in when we have MAJOR RIVALS AND MAJOR PERFORMANCES thats when we sound AWESOME .. I dont mean to brag but im a pretty player and the rest of the good players are in my grade so im terrified how they will sound when we leave :/ ANYONE else feel like this?

it dont have nothing to do with the people who try and wants to keep high school bands in place and more productive. the school districts and state are slowly but showly taking funding away from the music and fine arts depts in high schools.

 

and in houston, its getting bad because they building all these high schools and spreading these kids out.

and it have something to do with with the parents of these kids also. because i know when i did band my jr and sr year, my grandma, as well as other parents from the band made me excel in everything, within it because not only its just an activity, it was also a grade.

when i marched at yates, we had parents around twenty four seven as if the were our band directors too. i mean damn near everyone that marched from the band, was a hard head or whatever, but when we walked thru them doors, it was time to handle business.

 

so basically, its narrowed down to funding, parent support and the drive from the kids.,

that's a great idea and band directors should be doing this anyway..................1st we have to grab the child's attention: technology today have our kids and parents lazy...........catch them early before the get into the sex and the drugs........catch them as soon as they can understand their abc's and numbers.........................u can teach a 4 or 5 year old the fingerings to a trumpet or trombone (positions) with out a horn............teach them the lines n spaces of 1 of the clefs on their hands ( 5 fingers w/ 4 spaces in-between)  children absorb so much at an early age......let's use teach them early.......................WE HAVE TO HAVE FEEDER SCHOOLS AND THE FEEDER SCHOOLS SHOULD START TEACHING WHEN THE KID CAN UNDERSTAND N NOT HAVE RESTRICTIONS ON WHAT GRADE TO GET INTO BAND...........sorry this was long..........

As you stated, band programs everywhere are dying off. Some because of the economy, others because of the adminstration. What we must do is show our administration that we dont just play tunes. That we are really teaching students. If that means we teach a little music history and theory in our band classes. Then so be it. We are fortunate that band is co-curricular and not extra curricular which means we are a part of the educational curriculum, but if our admin that dont see our value start making cuts then we must prove that music education is worth while. Sometimes working a little extra hard for that concert band festival and bringing a Superior rating means a lot more than shaking our butts on the field.

 

My two cents

It's a big difference. For example, in miami there are really no more band programs in the middle schools so the numbers for high school are drastically affected. They have cut alot of the funding so it really makes those programs hard to function. For example, they no longer provide busing for the bands to get to the games anymore. They have to pay for those buses and that is a huge cost especially for bands that are still big in size for every game. Some bands only go to certain games now. And let's not talk about funding for uniforms and instruments.

You know...the more colorful an area is the less fine arts there is. CHARTER schools are the beginning of privatization of public education. Its not just Bands its affecting. If things keep going this way there may not be an _ISD anymore. But its only going to be in OUR areas. Its re-segregation. Katy not going nowhere. Cy-Fair aint going no where...But MOST of the districts inside the beltway are in trouble

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