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7 Ways Elementary Music Teachers Can Build High School Programs

Participation in school music programs changes lives for the better. And, elementary music teachers can be one of the MOST important advocates for middle school and high school music programs. In addition to teaching foundational music skills and a love of music, elementary music teachers can “light a fire” and inspire your students to continue lifetime participation in music.

As elementary teachers, we may not see the lasting impact we have on our students. But, you can and do make a difference.

7 Ways elementary music teachers can help build middle school & high school music programs

Specific Ways to Be an Advocate

As an elementary music teacher, you’re in a position to be a powerful advocate for your middle school and high school music programs. Below are specific actionable steps you can take to support the entire music program in your school district.

Meet the Middle School and High School Directors

If you do not know the middle and high school ensemble directors in your district, take time to introduce yourself and ask how you can help further their programs. Ask your district to schedule some professional development time to allow for vertical planning. Look for gaps between your programs and ways you can support each other.

Invite High School Students to Perform or Assist in Your Classes

Your former elementary students are the perfect guest soloists to inspire your current students. Does your school have a “Cadet Teaching” or “A+ Tutoring” program where high school students spend part of their day in an elementary classroom? Invite a high school musician to volunteer and help out in your classroom.

My last student volunteer became a recorder tutor practicing with students in the hallway. This was beneficial to help students who had fallen behind. Students LOVED working with her and even students who excelled asked to take a turn to play for her.

Attend and Publicize Middle School and High School Performances

Publicize middle school and high school performances on your website and include them in your newsletter. Put up fliers in your classroom. Does your high school do a yearly musical? Ask to schedule a field trip to watch the dress rehearsal.

For paid events, do they have a policy that students who hand out programs get free tickets? Advertise that opportunity to your elementary students and their families.

Concerts, community performances, parades, football games, etc. provide many different opportunities for your students to see these middle school and high school programs in action. Occasionally, opportunities may arise to perform alongside your high school groups. Sing the national anthem at a sporting event. This is an easy collaboration and can become a yearly tradition.

Performing with my former students in community and church groups has been among some of my most rewarding musical experiences.

Teach About the Music Programs in Your District

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard, “I can’t be in the band because I’m going to play football.”

Our son played football and was in band all 4 years. He didn’t march at football games but some schools allow students to march in their football uniforms. Once I told my students they could do both, they were much more interested and likely to enroll in band.

Familiarize yourself and your students with the choir, orchestra, and band programs in your district. Learn the offerings, policies, and sign-up procedures at the middle and high school levels. Show videos of stellar performances. Some of your students may have siblings in these ensembles and will have instant “buy-in.”

7 Ways elementary music teachers can help build middle school & high school music programs

Volunteer to Help at “Meet the Instruments” Events

Going to an unfamiliar school can be enough of a hurdle for some students to skip out on music sign-up events/or parent nights. If students know they will see you there, this often eases their apprehension. If parents know that you will be present and can provide some guidance, this can be a comfort to them as well.

Help students ask important questions and clarify the process of enrollment in the program. Often the process of choosing an instrument is of concern to both parents and students.

7 Ways elementary music teachers can help build middle school & high school music programs

Help Teach Summer Band, Orchestra, and Choir Programs

Instrumental summer programs often need extra personnel to teach beginning instrumental classes. What better summer job than helping your students get a head start in their middle school music programs!

Do you have a summer enrichment program where students perform a musical? Encourage your students to enroll or audition. Help students prepare for auditions and roles. Volunteer to help if you can.

Teach About Instruments

Many students don’t have any idea what instrument they may want to play. Help your students make educated decisions and teach them about the instruments of the orchestra and band.

Teach the basics about each instrument. Ensure students can identify the instruments by sight and by sound.

Do you need NO-PREP instrumental resources to introduce your students to the instruments of the orchestra and band? This bundle includes PowerPoint presentations with high-quality photos, information about each instrument, optional worksheets, and professional performance video links.

May be used with Google Slides.

Some Elementary Music Teachers “Do It All”

I know some music teachers “do it all.” Some of you are the elementary, middle school, and high school teacher. If this is you, be sure to take a peek at this post – Increasing Music Advocacy for Your Elementary Music Program by Involving Others.

There are never enough hours in the day, but when you take time to create positive working relationships with the other music teachers in your district or your area this will pay dividends for you and your students many times over.

Participation in school music programs changes lives . . . . . for the better.


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