Sunday, October 28, 2012

Traditions in the Band Class

I can't say the word "Tradition" without hearing Topol in my head.

"Fiddler on the Roof" aside, I am contemplating the role of Traditions in the band classroom. I am the type of person that completely supports traditions as long as the tradition benefits the program.

This year, I found that one tradition regarding band in my district would not be beneficial to my students. In fact, I have struggled mentally with this tradition for the past few years. I met with my principal and with my supervisor over the summer to discuss my concerns and ask them for advice. Both people agreed that it would be in the best interest of the musical education of the students to not follow the tradition this year.

So, I planned the beginning of this year minus the tradition. I did not make a big deal of it; I just didn't mention it. If a parent or student asked about the tradition, I was careful to answer the exact question that was asked and not to offer more information than was needed (this was the advice from my principal). It has been a constant source of low-level anxiety for me since the first day of school.

Yes, there have been questions asked. No, I have not had anyone seriously upset about the change. I still have 2-3 more weeks until we are past the "tradition" and there could still be more conversations; I look forward to no longer feeling this anxiety. Yes, my principal and supervisor have been extremely supportive and helpful. Yes, I have missed participating in the tradition. I still firmly believe that my students will be better musicians based on the path that I have set before them... minus the tradition.

Has anyone else made changes to traditions in their band program, even knowing that the community expected participation in that tradition?