“Every director must develop an appropriate plan aimed at restarting their band program…”
Band Recovery Plan By Linard McCloud
A few months ago, many band programs were flourishing as they prepared students for All-State, Concert Assessments, Solo & Ensemble, spring concerts, graduations, and of course, (for some) spring drills for the upcoming marching band season. Programs were continuing to work toward maintaining and enhancing their paths toward excellence in musicianship. Not in anyone’s wildest dreams did we think all of this hard work and success could come to an abrupt end, in the way that it has.
However, the COVID-19 virus has no friends in any walk of life. Regardless of a school’s classification (A-AA-AAA-AAAA-AAAAA), report card category, Title 1 status, or performance rating, every band program has been affected. This global pandemic will require music educators to adjust to some significant and unchartered changes to achieve goals and expectations. Subsequently, every director must develop an appropriate plan aimed at restarting their band program.
After a significant and devastating effect to the job market, much consideration has to be given to the economic, academic, and social changes that many students have and will continue to endure. School districts and legislators will make decisions that will significantly impact co-curricular programs. When schools re-open, principals and teachers will be charged with remediating and accelerating core subject areas. While there will be discussions of the importance and the value of other programs (e.g. athletics, band), that old cliché “schools are about the acquisition of basic skills” will be the focal point as testing will definitely take the forefront.
In addition, directors must also be concerned about the lack of state funding due to the loss of jobs and state revenue. Because state budgets will be affected by this pandemic, school districts will be hit hard. We will see changes with hiring, supplements, other amenities and perks to which we have grown accustomed.
So these are some suggested steps for Title 1 and smaller programs that each director should consider as they approach this devastating situation. This is not business as usual, and we must make some bold changes to achieve our goal which is to produce a performing group that is exemplary in all domains of learning.
Steps and Procedures:
1. Evaluate your program (prior to school closing if possible). List all strengths and weaknesses.
2. Develop a plan to expand on the strengths and eliminate as many weaknesses.
3. Check the new adjusted schedule for your district.
4. Check with the music or fine arts director about funding for programs.
5. Create a schedule after meeting with the principal and guidance director.
6. Check to see if they have any confirmed cases of financial and/or housing issues with
your band students.
7. Check on financial constraints on your program. See if the district will fund students who are unable to pay necessary fees to operate a band program.
8. Check to see if any student lost a family member or significant person during this time.
9. Check with the school’s nurse to log in medical issues and needs for each student.
10. Make certain that your class schedules remains the same or even better.
11. Set realistic expectations for the programs, based on your evaluation, with the principal.
12. Set up a meeting with veteran & new students and their parents.
- After the meeting, I would suggest conducting a music session with the
- Parents should meet after your students’ ensemble session. Invite the principal
and other officials to your music session and parent meeting.
13. Discuss with parents an appropriate budget for operating the band under these
14. Handout the rehearsal and performance schedules for the year. Make certain that you leave a window for schedule adjustments.
15. Check the booster club’s status for funding, and conclude the meeting with a pizza party for all participants.
My middle school program has an 86% poverty level while the high school is at 63%. These are considerations when we attempt to regroup. Having lost the leadership and experience of the senior class is devastating. Most programs depend on them to leave a legacy of achievement and dedication. These are issues we have no control over, but we have to work around them and make adjustments to reach our goal of music excellence. I believe that every program must make plans based on the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on the school district, and most importantly, your school and the way it has to operate moving forward.
Mr. Linard McCloud is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha, and Phi Beta Mu Band fraternities. He has served his community as an educator for over 30+ years. He has received numerous awards and citations throughout his illustrious career, including being presented the Key to The City of Winter Haven, Florida. He created South Carolina’s first concert band exchange program, through which his students have performed as far away as Ontario, Canada.
Mr. McCloud is the 1997 awardee of the Milken Educator Award, often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching.” He continues to teach and guide students in the inner city of Charleston, SC but his lessons have traveled the world.