Make the most of this year’s Band Camp experience!
KEEP THE END-GOAL IN MIND
Everything you do during band camp should be focused towards achieving the end result. Knowing where you want to go allows you to plan the route that will best get you there. The End-Goal is the GPS for the band.
SET CHECK-IN & EVALUATION POINTS
As you travel through the month of August (& the season) you want to be constantly evaluating your program to make sure you are on track to accomplishing your goal. My favorite GPS app is WAZE. This app is constantly scanning the traffic patterns ahead. It picks up delays and sometimes reroutes onto a longer path to avoid an even longer delay.
Set dates in your calendar to review your progress and make sure you’re avoiding dangerous delays. Sometimes you may need to backtrack a little to get back on course.
SET WEEKLY GOALS
Once you figure out the End Goal and know what you want to accomplish, break it up into chunks. Make a list of what you need to accomplish each in order to achieve your end goal. Reassess it and make sure it is achievable in the time you have. As one of our readers reminded us on a recent Facebook post, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”
PLAN EACH DAY & REVIEW EACH NIGHT
Effective planning is key to the success of any band program. You know the end goal. You’ve established what you need to accomplish at the end of the week. Now each day plan what you are going to do to accomplish your weekly goal. Be specific with what you want to accomplish each day and make sure your staff and student leadership team know what the expectations are.
At the end of each rehearsal, meet with your staff and your student leadership for a quick recap and evaluate how well you accomplished meeting your tasks. Ask what went well. And also ask what could have gone better? Brainstorm ideas to make the next day better. (NOTE: This doesn’t have to be an hour-long meeting. A quick recap as the band is packing up and heading out: 10-15 minutes).
BALANCE & BLEND
We see this caption on adjudication sheets at every festival. But, this musical concept has meaning in band camp also. Be sure to balance the activities for each day to include all of the areas you want to cover: fundamentals, drill, music, & visuals. Be sure to blend these activities together to create cohesion in the learning process. Spending too much time on one particular concept can have a negative impact through loss of focus & lack of retention.
When planning the day, try to connect each activity with each other. Create cross-references between the activities to increase student focus & retention. This is especially important in the Warm-up activities for the day. Make sure your warm-up relates to what you will be focusing on during the practice time.
If focus & retention seems to be waning, have several activities in your bag-of-tricks to get the students refocused. But make sure the activities are designed to reinforce fundamental concepts.
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