Here is the audio of this blog:
Band was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in Elementary and Secondary School. When I think back to the composition of that group of students, it was one of those rare instances where the social and cultural sub-groups that we inevitably find in secondary grades, worked in harmony... pun intended. Music tends to do that and is therefore an excellent tool that can be exploited and explored in all three principles of the Universal Design for Learning framework. These three principles are based on activating different parts of the brain. We know of course that listening to music also stimulates the brain but playing music is actually one of those activities that requires the most use of different parts of the brain at the same time:
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If we think about band in terms of personalized learning, it is uncanny how an instrument suits the personality of a particular student. If you were a "band geek" like myself (trombone), imagine you are back in band class and look around the room. Who was playing bass guitar? Who was playing flute, drums, saxophone? They just matched! Even within a particular section of a band, there were different parts (1st, 2nd, alto, soprano, etc) that allowed for even more individualization and adaptation.
Three of the main tenets of 21C learning are communication, collaboration and creativity. These are skills that are recognized and valued by every organization imaginable. They are practically requirements in order to thrive at both a personal and professional level. Not only is a school band a metaphor for a thriving organization, it is a means by which these skills can be developed in the first place with our students.
While a district band program is often precarious in nature because of the ebb and flow of interest, the retention of quality band teachers and the budgetary challenges that constantly face a board of trustees, the niche that it creates for many students to "belong" is priceless. Furthermore, as part of a quality education, I believe every student should have the opportunity to try a musical instrument. I had the pleasure last week of attending the NPSS musical "Back to the 80s". I'll leave you with an excerpt of their performance. The music you hear is the school pit band.
Have a great week,