Issue: Oct-Dec 2006
Bandworld Magazine Page


My Rehearsal is a Riot!
10 Years Ago in Bandworld
Click here for part 2
by William Fry and William Prescott

Causes of Discipline Problems

You will readily recognize these causes for poor discipline:

  • YOU, the director
  • Boredom
  • The Student's sense of ensemble non-achievement
  • Student discouragement/sense of failure
  • Negative social conditions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Boredom

Interest (the opposite of boredom) will be enhanced when the students feel emotionally involved in what they're doing. Enliven your rehearsal by keeping it fast paced, by some comments on technical composition techniques such as form, themes, historical scenarios of the composer and work, visual descriptions of a musical passage. Again, keep it fast-paced, never any wasted time, no time for boredom.

Student Sense of Non-achievement

Student usually sense poor quality of teaching. They may not be able to define poor tone quality or lack of balance in the ensemble, or poor intonation, or poor technical preparation, etc., but they sense that the music does not sound good. They sense non-achievement. This creates dissatisfaction and that leads to poor discipline. If this is a problem for you, don't hesitate: Find the best musician you can and ask for help.

Student Discouragement, Sense of Failure

 A student may feel inadequate in comparison to others. Whether this is a valid reality or not, the perception of lack of personal progress leads to dissatisfaction and poor discipline. Discouragement with one's individual progress is a leading cause of dropout. Praise and encouragement are prime methods of getting young people to give their best. Praise before criticizing. When mistakes are made, say something complimentary before you mention the mistake. Encouragement can help give the student a new start after a failure. Look for something to compliment. Praise the slightest improvement. Make them excel. Even the most untalented student can be praised and encouraged and made to feel important.

Negative Social Conditions

Your warmth, your personal interest in each student, your attempt to make each student feel there is something for them, your desire for their success, might just be the catalyst needed to lift a student out of a poor home condition, an unloved situation, or some other negative social condition.

Lack of motivation

A feeling of inadequacy, a feeling of non-achievement, a feeling of the unimportance of band or orchestra, a feeling of failure or lack of success, a feeling of not belonging or being a social outcast from the group, a feeling that YOU don't like him/her. All these can be factors in a potential dropout and certainly factors in poor behavior patterns. You, as a music director and teacher, are more than just a teacher. You are a motivation, an inspiration, a person to be admired and looked up to.

One of the greatest compliments you will ever receive is a student telling you that he/she wants to be just like you when they grow up!

Other Discipline Factors

Occasionally, a problem student will be the product of where there is no love. Your warmth, you obvious interest in each student, your desire for their success, may find a receptiveness which will change the problem student into an asset, both to the group and to him- or herself.

Even in band or orchestra, a few students will develop excuse-making techniques. Destroy this by showing them the futility of such an exercise.

When poor conduct is willful, take immediate action. To falter is to commit discipline suicide. Move immediately, with tactfulness, but with forcefulness. To even APPEAR to accept poor conduct is disastrous for the group discipline. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill, but demonstrate the seriousness of the situation. The approach of a private meeting with problem students will let them know you really care.

We repeat again: Keep rehearsals fast-paced. Make corrections or praise performance, get your baton up, start immediately, never any waiting around, any loss of time. Keep them busy and concentrated. At the same time, your approach is warm, human, student-centered and never an ego trip for the teacher.

Next time: Setting goals, winning attitudes, inspiring others, winning.


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