As we all approach the end of semester 1, it is timely to reflect on what you have achieved to this point in the year. How are your bands/ensembles going? Do you have a solid group of keen students who are regular attendees at rehearsal? Are they taking their parts away to practice and seeking to improve? Are they challenged, but not terrified? Have you had good positive results/performances throughout this semester at Generations in Jazz or perhaps at your school concert? I had a great rehearsal last week with one of my bands where we reflected on what we had achieved. The students were pretty honest, and admitted that some of them had "dropped the ball" after the big concert event earlier in the term and their priorities turned to winter sport practices, and/or academic pressures. We sight-read three new pieces of music of medium to difficult repertoire. Whilst they understood the differences in stylistic demands of the three, the one they really want to focus on is the VERY hard one! I put it out there to see how they reacted and was pleasantly surprised by their steely determination to learn it and give it a go. I would have chosen the middle one of the three (in terms of difficulty) but they saw the benefit of being challenged in order to learn it on a fairly tight timeline (interrupted by holidays) in time for our next big concert.
Moral of the story? - don't underestimate the ability and willingness of your students to engage and take a challenge. It would have been easy for me, at this end of a busy semester to be a little tired and jaded and not even table the "difficult" piece, but I'm glad I did. Their response will send me to holidays at the end of this week in a much better frame of mind!
Ah! the positivity of youth!