When I first began teaching last year as a band director I reached out to thousands of other band directors by using Facebook Groups. I discovered a group called "Band Director's Group" that now has over 19,000 music teachers nationwide. Below are some of the comments I received when I asked "What advice would you give to your 25 year old self?"
- Finish your masters before you have kids (that's what I wish I told myself)
- Don't spend time trying to make everyone happy. Focus on the kids and what is best for your group. You can't focus on the kid (or parent) you upset, you have to focus on the ones you make happy! Trust your gut. Make connections with kids!! Don't just talk about band... Sports, music, tv, movies, games, etc. Create opportunities for performances! Teach them the pride/excitement in performing!! Remember that you never have it "figured out". Teaching changes every year and so should you!! You're bound to make mistakes, both as a rookie teacher and veteran teacher! Embrace them, learn from them and move on! Ah!! I feel like I could keep going!! Enjoy 😀
- Focus on fundamentals.
Don't take their snotty attitudes personally.
Each crappy day is (usually) followed by a much better day
- Balance!! Find a non-band hobby. Remember to have fun in all the craziness.
- Always stay calm. Don't let your emotion override your intelligence. Always remember, you care more about band than everyone else does. People don't usually mean things personally, so don't take it that way. You can't argue with the facts, always operate in the facts.
- find a regular outlet for you to perform with other top notch musicians. When you are personally involved in making music, it is a constant reminder of why you do what you do, and helps direct your instruction.
- Be willing to change how you teach. Every year I have become a better teacher. This is year 12 and I have completely revamped my approach. So, do what works to help kids fall in love with music and also keeps you falling in love all over again each year.
- Ear plugs
- After 13 years as a high school band director (in WI--Nick Lane!) I finally decided to make time for myself. It's okay to leave "on time." My desire to help kids isn't any less, but my my mental and physical health is far more valuable....and I'm more effective in rehearsals! As band directors we think we have to do it all for every kid. We can only do the best we can, with the time we have while maintaining a positive lifestyle...and that doesn't mean 70, 60, or 50 hour work weeks (I know from experience.)
- If you even have a thought of wife and kids, NEVER leave that job (or at least the middle school level) for high school...you will regret it.
- 1. Be systematic with your teaching approach so that every year it improves. 2. And every year, pick one weak area to improve upon in some manner. 3. Dream what you would like your program to be in 30 years and work towards that every day, week, month, and year. Good luck!