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5 Strategies to Finish the Program Year Strong

Tamarie Sayger ·

It’s that time of year…

The end is in sight, but there are many (many) items that still need to be completed before the final day of school. Here are some strategies to make your final weeks of school flow easier!

1. Plan for the Audition/Final Project

Many programs have some type of final audition to place students into the correct class for the next school year. Other schools may have a final exam or final playing project for students. Be sure you start early with large projects. If you have students submit recordings, be sure you have adequate time to listen and grade them. If you plan to listen live to students, have a plan for the other students during this performance event. Consider using unison music for auditions so it can be taught in class with all instruments. This allows the director to adequately teach the important aspects in a group setting. Need some unison music for your group? Here’s an example of unison audition music you could use.

2. Organize Instrument Inventory & Cleaning

If your program involves musical instruments, it is critical that directors account for all inventory items at the end of the year. Although it may be a hectic time of year, skipping this important step can be catastrophic to your program (and, if you’re found to be missing instruments later, your career). Be sure to set eyes on all instruments, make notes of any damage, assess repair fees as needed and file your records appropriately with your school district. If you’re looking for a way to simplify and improve your inventory management, check out how CutTime can greatly expedite this task for you here.

For instruments you’ll be storing over the summer, here are some tips from a local music store about storing instruments correctly to avoid costly repairs. Brass students will need to know how to give their instruments a bath - this can be taught during the final weeks of school if it has not already been taught to students. If needed, you can assign instrument bath videos for students to watch while you are taking care of other end-of-year tasks.

If your program utilizes Attire/Uniforms, you’ll want to take similar steps to account for and clean all of your garments. Hopefully you have some awesome boosters or other helpers around who are willing to assist you with this large task. Lastly, plan ahead for the collection of your sheet music folders. You’ll need a bit of time to review the contents and put them back in logical order.

3. Review and Play Games

What do you do for those days after instruments and sheet music are turned in? Have some fun reviewing theory and counting! Try the following games depending on your review goals & age of students. Click on the title of each game for details:


Rhythm Dictation Game

Drop Out


Instrumental Videos

Find A Partner Races

4. Get Students Excited about Next Year!

One of the best motivators for end of year restlessness is to put focus on what’s ahead (after summer of course!).Want to keep students excited about next year? Spend a bit of time pumping your returning students up about next year’s program highlights.

  • Have an awesome band trip planned? Hype that!
  • Do you have special fall events - band camp before school starts, middle schoolers attending a high school game, Halloween themed concert? Share that with the kids and, if you have them, show pictures of this year’s events to remind them of how fun it was.
  • Have a chat with the kids about them becoming the leaders of the program (especially the seniors) and help them create a vision for what they want that leadership to look like.
  • If you’re at a middle school, invite the high school director to come down and work with your students for the day - or just come by and talk with them. If you’re at an elementary school, invite the middle school director over.

5. Reflect & Raise the Bar

It’s important to take time at the end of each year to measure your success and set new goals. As John Wooten said, “Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.” And for the younger generation, Mia Hamm stated “ Celebrate what you accomplish, but raise the bar each time you succeed.”

Here's a self-evaluation form for you that covers areas of student success and program health. It’s very comprehensive and almost sure to have ideas or topics you haven’t thought to track.

Enjoy the Summer!

Fine arts education has a rhythm all its own. Starting well requires ending well. By setting aside time to tackle the admin on your to-do list, inject some fun into your final classroom days, and reflect on your year, you’ll be able to breathe easier and truly enjoy your summer break and come back refreshed.

Meet Our Guest Author

Tamarie Sayger is a band director in Texas with 25 years of teaching band, elementary music and private lessons. She has presented clinics at Midwest, TMEA, TBA, KBA and WBDI and is the creator of Crossing The Break, a podcast for teaching clarinet. In addition to teaching full time, she contributes articles to Band Directors Talk Shop, a website with over 500 free articles on all things Band. Band Directors Talk Shop is grateful for the support of CutTIme in helping us reach our mission to educate and inspire band directors everywhere.

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