We have reached the middle of July, and that means band camps are starting around the country. Break out the sunscreen, ear plugs, and Gold Bond! While band camp is crucial to the overall performance success of any ensemble, it is important to remember some fact that lay the foundation during this time.
Band camp is the time to establish the foundation of musical performance throughout the year. Focus on the fundamentals of playing. Spend time discussing proper air control, embouchure, blending of timbre. These are all things that will lead to successful music making. Additionally, this time allows for directors to set expectations for all members. Students can learn time management skills, teamwork, ways to prepare for the next task, and working until something is complete. All of these are important life skills.
These kids are people. They have parents, guardians, friends, and responsibilities outside of band. You, in fact, are a person as well. You enjoy Games of Thrones, cooking, and time in the quiet. It is important to remember these things. it provides a great perspective for all of us. At the end of the day, no matter the quality of the rehearsal or what needs to get done tomorrow, everyone involved is a person. Treat them with the respect you with which you wish them to treat you. Lead with energy, drive toward the goal, but be mindful of the people around you. While you do spend a great deal of time together, you may not be aware of everything going on in their lives. Sometimes, they are distracted by an family issue and can only give you 70% of their focus and energy. Encourage them to give all of that 70%. Remember, band rehearsal may be the best part of their day.
This topic goes hand-in-hand with fundamentals. How is each part of camp going to help build for the future of the program? Are the activities designed to generate closer relationships and trust through teamwork? Will the musical warm-up improve the tone quality of the concert band? What challenges will your arrangement provide that will lead to growth in performance? It is important that you plan band camp with the full school year in mind.
I know there are many reasons why students are in band. They like the companionship or the competition. But, at the root of all of is they enjoyment of band. Students join beginning band because they believe it will be fun. Sure, it is a lot of work, but there is a sense of enjoyment as well. And, how many band directors truly choose this field because they like to work? No, they enjoy the work they do. Sit back and enjoy the ride.