How Do I Make My Music Program Successful?
The lifelong rewards of a quality music education may be too great to measure. But the elements of a good program can and should be measured to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed. A good music program requires ample room for rehearsals and performances, high-quality materials and instructors, clear goals, and ongoing program evaluation. Below, you’ll find a detailed list of the elements of a quality music program.
A Quality Music Program Requires
- Dedicated music rooms. A quality music program needs space of its own. In smaller music programs, a single room may be shared by various music ensembles. The room should contain storage space for instruments and other equipment. If available, a second room may be dedicated to general music classes and chorus. That room should be equipped with a television, DVD/DVR player, and CD player. Ideally, a third room would be provided for a piano laboratory. In larger school programs, there may be separate rooms for band, orchestra, chorus, piano laboratory, and general music and theory classes. Each room should contain storage space as well as a television, DVD/DVR player, and CD player. Ideally, both elementary and high schools would have practice rooms and computers equipped with up-to-date music software.
- High-quality instruments, textbooks, and recordings. Elementary school programs should supply a set of general music textbooks for K–8 classes in addition to beginning:
- Band and orchestra books. A well-stocked library may contain 100 band, orchestra, and chorus arrangements, and the instructor should seek to add new arrangements every year. In addition to standard band and orchestral instruments, percussion equipment for a marching and/or concert band and supporting materials such as reeds, rosin, mouthpieces, extra bows, and uniforms (including rain gear) would be supplied. Quality high school programs will include an acoustic piano in the band, orchestra, and choral rooms (a small grand piano in the choral room is ideal), an electric piano, guitar, and bass with amplifiers, and a drum set with hardware. A well-stocked high school music library would contain 100 arrangements each for jazz band, jazz combo, concert band, marching band, and orchestra, with new arrangements added every year.
- A certified music teacher or teaching artist. Music staff should be certified and endorsed in music while teaching artists preferably have a minimum of two years of college music education and experience teaching in a classroom setting.
- Dedicated, consistent class periods. For optimum results, elementary teachers should teach their classes on a weekly schedule, seeing every grade/class a minimum of once per week. Elementary and middle school teachers should be allowed two prep periods per week as well as a daily lunch period. High school teachers should have five periods of daily classes in all music offerings, one hour per class, five days per week. For best results, performing ensembles should also have rehearsal time incorporated into their daily school schedule.
- Clearly defined goals. The instructor should set realistic goals and have a command of best practices in classroom management and teacher-student relations. Successful teaching artists develop a schedule and learning goals in dialogue with school personnel. In both elementary and high schools, performance ensembles such as band, orchestra, and chorus are classified as beginning, intermediate, or advanced. At both grade levels, performance-to-classroom ratio begins at 10:90 for beginners and elevates to 40:60 for intermediate. While advanced elementary ensembles should strive for a 50:50 ratio, high school ensembles should strive for a ratio of 70:30. In all cases, students should perform at school events and concerts, community events outside of school hours and, where possible, in state and local adjudicated events.
- Ongoing evaluation and accountability. Ratings of music ensembles at state and local events can serve as valuable assessments of a music program’s success and of what work needs to be done to make the program more effective. Individual student progress may be assessed via written and performance assessments determined and administered by the classroom teacher and via solo performance in state and local adjudicated events.
- Funding and support from the school and the community. The budget for a successful music program comes from a school’s internal accounts and activities, including student fees, performance fees, and fund-raising. Funding may also come from discretionary funds from Local School Councils. Grants from various philanthropic organizations are also available. Parent booster clubs are also a good source of funding; parent involvement has been essential to the success of many music programs.