As music educators I believe most in our field really do want to see their kids succeed and thrive. However, we seem to shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot from time to time. Often, it's by repeating the same statements or ideals made by our band directors. Hence, we have what I call 'Zombie Myths'; the myths which just don't seem to die! Beyond that, we often pick up some of the bad habits that we observed (but didn't necessarily know were bad) through our band/orchestra/choir directors or our private instructors. Our heroes aren't perfect, y'all. Neither is their teaching philosophy. As a music educator, or future music educator, one must look at the dogma of your teachers with a critical eye. Let's get a few of these zombie myths out of the music room.
- Some scales/keys are harder than others. FALSE. C# major has the exact same number of pitches as C major. If we start treating them the same, perhaps students won't stay awake the night before an audition hoping the judges don't call B or F# in the scale portion. I think as music educators we sometimes look as some keys as harder than others because that's how WE felt in the same situation. Let's get past that.
- High school band is all about marching trophies. No, it's learning how to be a musician and play your instrument. I came from a high school marching program which was very successful. Do you know how much that impacted my life as a musician the second the last contest was over? ZERO. You can enjoy marching band, perhaps even prefer that end of the field yourself. However, if you make that the central focus of your program, you are doing your students a great disservice. Enjoy the Blue Devils but look to the Chicago Symphony and President's Own Marine Band for more inspiration.
- Step up instruments/mouthpieces/reeds are one size fits all. STOP THAT. No, not everyone needs the same brand/model horn. No, saxophonists don't all do best on the Selmer S80 C*. No, all clarinetists don't need to be on a 3 1/2 strength reed by their junior year. Educate yourself on instruments and accessories outside of those you majored in in college.
- If your students know the shows of the last four DCI champions and zero pros on their instruments, they're doing it wrong. If you don't know at least 2 major names on each instrument to share with your students, YOU'RE doing it wrong.
- The families/band boosters are their to support, not run, the band. You might occasionally need to gently remind them of that fact. See my statement about marching band.
- Yes, you should still maintain chops on the instrument in which you majored. Show the kids that you love music so much that you still want to play, too. Besides, if YOU play at a high level in front of the kids, it might inspire THEM to play at a high level.