By Gary Markham
The concert band is the foundation and centerpiece of the scholastic band program. The instrumental music curriculum – its scope, sequence, and standards – all emanate from this regular instruction. Marching band, jazz band, chamber ensembles, and other similar activities contribute to the enrichment of the band program and provide students with specific valuable experiences. Each has a unique role to play within the program and provides a balance to instrumental music education. However, any one alone cannot provide the breadth and depth of the instrumental curriculum or the most effective instructional strategies. It is within the concert band curriculum that individual and ensemble performance skills are more fully developed, and artistic decision-making is fostered enabling all of the other enrichment activities to be more successful.
“The concert band is the foundation and centerpiece of the scholastic band program.”
If any one of the supplemental activities is overemphasized, in either focus or time, high standards and depth of instruction are routinely compromised. Students in the band program must study the most significant literature, demanding their highest-level skill and discerning musical decisions. While there is significant focused literature available for jazz and chamber ensembles, it serves as a valuable addition to concert study. The concert band offers the best opportunity to achieve the highest level of performance standards. It presents a thoughtful sequence of study related to individual and ensemble skill acquisition coupled with a body of literature selected for musical growth and understanding.
Highly skilled, caring, musical teachers are the catalyst for the most successful band programs.
As the basis of the entire band experience, the scope and sequence of the concert band curriculum must be delivered throughout the year. This foundation then elevates the performance standards of all the well-balanced enrichment activities. With demand for student time increasing on a yearly basis, it is critical that the most productive and efficient instructional model be employed. Careful implementation of a thorough concert band curriculum will provide great program benefits and sustainability.