Friday, July 27, 2012

Student Teaching Part IV - The Feeling of 5th Place

This is the fourth entry of my student teaching journals (Part IPart II & Part III).

We didn’t do so good.

It was really cold but the students had a great 2 hour rehearsal. The kids’ focus was impressive, but it just didn’t carry through. Things were not lining up and working on the field. There were many issues and the thing is that it really makes the kids walk away with a bad taste in their mouths when they are in 5th place overall.

At Northwestern I don’t ever remember being done with a show and not feeling proud of what I did. The games and the service to the community was so central to the experience of the marching band. In high school one of my favorite moments was my last marching band game and the thing is that was such a big deal for me. In a way I feel like having that as the pivotal moment of the season helps the students feel more proud of what they do then having it be dependent on a ranking in a competition.

If what happened last year happens again and they get 2nd place, it is going to be a great way to end the season but what happens if the kids really do their best and they don’t win because another band had a better drill writer? So much of what is analyzed has nothing to do with the students efforts and that is really difficult for students to really connect with and feel proud of.

I would love to combine the best of both worlds and have students get good motivation from competitions but have the come from doing home games and truly loving every second of what they do. I think the games can be as big a deal but in a different way. Yes, it’s not a competition but competitions do not motivate all students equally. Part of me thinks that understanding the service part and working through that is a more valuable connection that will stay with the students.

Winning a competition teaches tons about who students are and what it means to win a competition, but life is not all about competitions. It’s about understanding the role of something bigger then yourself for benefits that sometimes are not as tangible as a trophy. Auditions and competitions make the intangible quantifiable and that is good because that is easier for younger students to understand. The thing is that the motivation and art of music is not tangible. There is something in the heart that makes music special.

The main thing I took away from that night was a questions of what competition really means to music. I’m not sure I’d put my students through competitions and have this be as central to their marching band experience. Thinking now, the pride in the band needs to come from a bigger pride in the community. That’s what I learned from marching band. It’s a great thing to serve a community. It makes the students part of something bigger then the band, bigger then the community and creates a feeling of pride that they will carry for the rest of their lives.

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