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 encourage your students to continue lifetime participation in music.
As elementary teachers, we may not see the lasting impact that we have on our students. But, you can and do make a difference. You can help prepare your students to become life-long musicians.
Specific Ways to Be an Advocate
As an elementary music teacher you are 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, make it a point 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 in your programs and ways that you can support each other.
Invite High School Students to Perform or Assist in Your Classes
Former students make the perfect guest soloists to inspire your elementary 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? Consider inviting a high school musician to volunteer and spend part of their day in your classroom.
My last student volunteer was able to offer recorder tutoring in the hallway. This was very beneficial in helping students who had fallen behind. Students LOVED working with her and even students who were excelling 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 about scheduling 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. Singing the national anthem at a sporting event can be an easy collaboration.
Performing with my former students in community and church groups has been among some of my favorite 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 am going to play football.” It just so happens that our son played football and was in band all 4 years. He did not 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 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 will probably have siblings in these ensembles and will have instant “buy-in.”
Volunteer to Help at “Meet the Instruments” Events
Going to an unfamiliar school can be enough of a hurdle for some students to skip music sign-up events/or parent nights. If students know that they will see you there, a familiar face, that often eases the apprehension. Knowing that you will be present and that you want the best for all of your students can be a comfort to parents as well.
Help Teach Summer Band, Orchestra, 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. Volunteer to help if you can.
Teach About Instruments
Many students do not even know what instrument they may want to play. Help your students make educated decisions by teaching them about the instruments of the orchestra and band.
Teach the basics about each instrument. Make sure 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? These bundles include presentations with high-quality photos, information about each instrument, and professional performance video links.
Some Elementary Music Teachers “Do It All”
I know that some music teachers “do it all.” Some of you are the elementary, middle school, and high school teacher. If this is you, be sure and read this post – Increasing Music Advocacy for Your Elementary Music Program by Involving Others.
There are never enough hours in the day, but creating a positive working relationship with the other music teachers in your district or your area will pay dividends for you and your students many times over.
Participation in school music programs changes lives . . . . . for the better.
Do you have more ways to help support your middle and high school music programs? Leave a comment and add to the discussion.