The best way to get ahead and start your fine arts program strong is to be intentional. Let’s talk about 3 important components of your planning this school year.
- Curriculum Calendar
- Events Calendar
- Reflection & Improvement
Intentional Component #1: Curriculum Calendar
Schedule your full band, choral, and orchestra concerts or guard, theater and dance performances and contests.
- Backup 6-8 weeks (or more) and mark “pass out music for winter concert.”
- Back up 1 week before that and mark “copy music for winter concert. “
- Backup 3 weeks before that and mark “choose music for winter concert.”
- For contests, mark a reminder 4-6 weeks before to order the judge's scores.
Schedule your solo performances. This includes events such as district/region band, choir, orchestra, guard, theater, dance company and solo/ensemble. For a concert band example:
- Mark on your calendar when the district/region band music will be released.
- Set weekly goals for students to learn/get feedback on those sections.
- Mark 6-8 weeks before solo performances when you need to hand out solos/ensembles.
- Mark 3 weeks prior to that date to choose solos for students and prepare music. For example, if your solo performances are in late February, hand out the music before winter break and begin selecting solos for students right after Thanksgiving.
Schedule your pedagogical classroom goals.
- Mark ensemble skills to focus on during certain weeks/months.
- Mark which scales/technique exercises you want mastered by which dates.
- Mark when you plan to start new skills (thirds, advanced lip slurs, double tonguing).
- For beginners, set end of year goals and work backwards to semester goals and then a six-weeks specific goal.
- Let these mid to long-term goals guide your weekly & daily lesson planning.
- Find a mentor and schedule dates for them to come in and work with you and your students.
Intentional Component #2: Events Calendar
Series Events - Concerts & Performances
- Add all events to the school calendar via campus policies.
- Put in facility requests for gyms, cafeterias etc. via district policies.
- Confirm dates with all parties involved. (coaches for gym, theatre for stage, etc.)
- If you will need to get into the space early to set up, confirm if that will be possible.
- Mark your registration deadlines for contests. Backup 3 weeks before to remind yourself to register. (Mark a reminder a week later to check that you received confirmation.)
- Parties! Put in facility requests for gyms, cafeterias etc.
- Fundraiser – Put it on the calendar and back up to add time for planning before kick-off.
- Collect a list of parent volunteers to help at these events at the beginning of the year, so when the time comes you can email the appropriate parents.
- Inventory – Plan inventory check-in/checkout, instrument maintenance & repair.
- Budget – confirm dates where all budgets must be spent and be sure you have plenty of time beforehand for paperwork to move through the proper channels.
- Conferences – Mark state and national music conferences and get approval/coverage.
- Personal days – We are given vacation days for a reason. Coordinate plans for your staff so everyone can get the physical and mental breaks when needed. Plan coverage of classes and activities for these days so learning can continue while directors practice self-care.
Intentional Component #3: Reflection & Improvement
Throughout the year, make notes of anything you FORGOT or want to change for next year.
- Did you forget to prepare for the annual Veteran’s Day assembly? Add it to THIS year’s calendar so next year you can correct that issue.
- Did you decide a pep rally and band party on the same day were too much? Make a note on THIS year’s calendar to put your party on a different day next year.
- Were you scrambling to get scores in before a contest? Move that date back 2 weeks and highlight it on THIS year’s calendar to avoid stress next year.
Then – and here’s the critical thing – transfer all applicable dates/notes from this year’s calendar to next year’s. Continue this process to refine and organize year after year.
I hope these tips help you have a more organized and successful year!
Meet Our Guest Expert 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 and facilitates Band Directors Workshop, an intensive summer professional development workshop in Canyon, TX.
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