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Building Successful Band Programs in Smaller Schools

Building Successful Band Programs in Smaller Schools

Building Successful Band Programs in Smaller Schools

By NAfME Member John Cisetti

This text first appeared on J.W. Pepper’s weblog.


The scholar inhabitants at Louisburg Excessive Faculty the place I’m in my 40th yr of educating is about 535 college students. But we’re proud that greater than one-fourth of the scholar physique is in marching band and that we have been one in every of ten U.S. bands chosen to march in the Event of Roses Parade in January 2018.

band programsThe Louisburg Excessive Faculty Band


It wasn’t all the time this manner. Once I began educating band to fifth via twelfth graders in our Kansas district a few years in the past, the band program was a lot smaller than it’s now. However I don’t assume there’s only one factor through the years that satisfied our college students to hitch band – it’s a thousand little issues.

Getting College students Concerned in Band

Coordinating Calendars

One necessity for us has been to work round college students’ schedules. I’ve a dozen soccer gamers in my highschool band and college students concerned in debate, vocal music, and quite a few different actions. In a smaller faculty, we will’t be unique if we would like profitable packages. We coordinate calendars and work intently with the counseling division to permit college students to be concerned in a number of actions and elective courses.

patriotismBand director John Cisetti conducts the Louisburg Excessive Faculty band throughout a wreath-laying ceremony on the Flight 93 Nationwide Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Sense of Group

I’m an enormous proponent of what I name “positive patriotism.” This implies actively supporting our group and our classmates and utilizing our expertise to profit our nation. We’ve been concerned in many group service tasks, and we’ve taken a serious journey each 4 years so every scholar can take part in a vacation spot occasion earlier than commencement. Throughout these journeys, I’ve all the time scheduled a particular patriotic efficiency.

Once we traveled to Washington, D.C., for the Nationwide Independence Day Parade, we carried out a wreath-laying ceremony on the Navy Memorial and on the tomb of John Philip Sousa. En path to New York Metropolis for the Veterans Day Parade, we stopped on the Flight 93 Nationwide Memorial in Pennsylvania to put a wreath. Every of our journeys has an analogous second when our band members pause to mirror on what is admittedly necessary.

Enjoyable Occasions

We additionally take part in some occasions which are simply plain enjoyable and get the group concerned. For the previous 18 years we now have yearly carried out in an Electrical Mild Band Present. On a Saturday

Independence DayThe annual Electrical Mild Band Present is a well-liked occasion in the area people.

night time, band members adorn themselves in Christmas lights and glow sticks. We flip the lights out in the stadium, and we march by means of our present in the darkish. There are also fireworks. The annual occasion packs the stadium with many mother and father, group members, and alumni.

Staying As much as Date

Through the years, I’ve additionally frequently tried new issues that assist me attain immediately’s college students. I’ve included know-how to assist the band develop stronger. We now make the most of a drone digital camera throughout rehearsals in marching season. This permits the scholars to verify units.

I additionally e mail the scholars sight-reading workouts that they entry every day on their Chromebooks. Likewise, I exploit older know-how, reminiscent of a doc digital camera, so I can present the part of the rating we’re engaged on they usually can see the place their half matches into the entire composition.

Contending with Instrumentation Wants and Totally different Potential Ranges

Feeder Program

Since we’re in a smaller faculty district, I’ve had to make sure we’ve the instrumentation we’d like. One side of my job that has helped is that I management the highschool feeder program since I additionally train fifth via eighth grade.

marching bandQuite a few college students hold the trombone as their essential instrument as they transfer by way of the music program in the Louisburg Faculty District.

Our fifth-grade college students begin by taking flute, clarinet, trumpet, or trombone. Once they transfer to center faculty, we add different devices, akin to French horn, saxophone, or percussion. At this level, I attempt to get the scholars in the proper place, contemplating their curiosity and expertise in addition to the wants of the group. This helps stability our bands in phrases of capability and instrumentation as the scholars transfer on to highschool.

Center Faculty Cadet Band for Starting College students

We’ve additionally added a program to assist college students who could also be getting a late begin. Our starting band alternatives for center schoolers permit college students to see if band could also be one thing they’d take pleasure in. We don’t need college students to assume they’re out of luck in the event that they didn’t enroll in fifth grade.

We hope this program will assist additional increase our band program. It additionally permits us to accommodate college students who could also be at a special means degree due to a scarcity of expertise.

Summer time Band

Summer time band, which is separate from marching band camp, has been an important a part of our program. It has given us a jump-start on the music for the subsequent faculty yr. It has additionally offered alternatives for musical experimentation and progress. Annually I’ve given college students an opportunity to study a second instrument throughout summer time band. Typically the scholars like the brand new instrument a lot they change; different occasions it simply expands their musical information.

This yearly alternative to attempt totally different devices has helped our efforts to make sure we now have the instrument stability we’d like in our band. It additionally will increase the scholars’ common curiosity and love of music.

Marching Band Drills

I write my very own drills as a result of I take pleasure in doing it, and I do know my band. It’s numerous work, and I’ve labored late into the night time on quite a few events to finish the duty. But when I put in the correct quantity of labor, I feel it makes it potential for the scholars to achieve success. They’re happier collaborating in band once they can carry out on the highest degree potential for them, and that’s extra more likely to occur if I give them music and drills that work for his or her potential degree and band measurement.

The right way to Get Chosen for Greater Occasions

Our success in getting accepted into bigger parades, sporting occasions, and ceremonies has little question enhanced our college students’ enjoyment in band. At first of my educating profession, we participated solely in native and regional occasions. Over time we started throwing our identify in the hat for giant nationwide occasions.

practiceThe Louisburg band acquired robust help from the area people as they spent years making an attempt to win a spot in the Rose Parade.

Collaborating in the Event of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, took 5 purposes and a few years earlier than we have been accepted. Every software to the parade was a studying expertise, so it was worthwhile whether or not we have been accepted or not. We needed to submit photographs, resumes, and letters of advice together with a five-minute video. The video consists of an introduction to the band, footage of the band in full uniform marching round a nook, and highlights of our area present.

After our fourth software, the Rose Parade committee stated they favored our story, however we would have liked to be greater and louder to seize consideration. They prompt we add our eighth graders to the band, and that’s what we did. I went to the Louisburg Metropolis Council and requested them to close down Fundamental Road so our now almost 200-member band might be videotaped marching round a nook for software quantity 5. It turned an enormous group occasion. The police and hearth departments blocked the roads, and group members lined the streets holding U.S. flags. That effort did the trick, and we have been chosen to take part.

From there, our time was devoted to getting ready for the occasion. We

paradeThe Louisburg Excessive Faculty Band participates in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, in January 2018.

painted a full-scale duplicate of Pasadena’s TV nook in our center faculty parking zone. We labored on our endurance to deal with the five-and-a-half-mile-long parade trek. In the summertime, the band met on the monitor twice every week for 2 hours of strolling and marching. We did our fundraising, practiced our music, and made our journey plans. In the long run, our participation went so nicely that our band was awarded the primary Event of Roses Michael D. Sewell Service By way of Music Award.

Creating Reminiscences

Alongside the best way, the most important signal of success for us has been the very fact we’ve created reminiscences. Throughout our journey to Sousa’s tomb, I used to be allowed to make use of considered one of Sousa’s batons to conduct the band throughout our wreath-laying ceremony. That memorable second gave me the thought of ordering 11 custom-made batons for our journey to the Rose Parade. Throughout our subject present in California, I used every one after which handed them to the chosen recipients, which included our drum majors, the president of our band group, our tour operator, and my three youngsters.

A baton isn’t a magic wand; there’s nothing magical about it. It’s only a stick, However with it, we make the magic occur.

band directorBand director John Cisetti is honored to make use of certainly one of John Philip Sousa’s batons throughout a particular wreath-laying ceremony in Washington, D.C.

I’ve stored different memorabilia through the years. On my band room partitions are flags from all of the states the place we now have carried out, pennants from all the universities the place we have now performed, and previous uniforms courting all the best way again to 1955. However crucial merchandise on the wall is an enormous purple signal with two phrases: “The Future…”

Schools have been by no means meant to be museums. Schools are usually not concerning the previous; they’re concerning the future. Every part I cling on the wall is an arrow pointing ahead and asking, “What’s next? What’s next for the band, what’s next for you, and what’s next for me?”

Marching in the Rose Parade can be one of many prime ten issues my college students do in their lives, however I inform them there are 9 different issues that may make that record. What would be the different 9? I’m hoping band will give them the inspiration they should succeed, and as I look to retirement after this yr, I hope my college students have discovered to maintain marching ahead to the subsequent nice journey their lives have to supply.


View sheet music and different assets on your band, together with:

Patriotic marching band music
Music scored for small bands or bands with incomplete instrumentation
Drill design software program


Pictures courtesy of the writer and J.W. Pepper.

Concerning the writer:

band directorNAfME member John Cisetti has led the band program at Louisburg, Kansas, for 40 years. He teaches greater than 350 college students per day in grades 5 by way of twelve at three totally different buildings, and produces greater than 60 public performances annually. His teams persistently obtain first-division scores. Mr. Cisetti was named the Louisburg USD #416 Secondary Instructor of the Yr for 2018-2019 and a semifinalist for the 2019 Kansas Instructor of the Yr. He was named a 2017 Laureate of the John Philip Sousa Basis Bandworld Legion of Honor and was the 2015-2016 Northeast Kansas Music Educators Affiliation Excellent Excessive Faculty Band Director. He was awarded the Louisburg Grasp Instructor of the Yr in 2000, was a semifinalist for the 2001 Kansas Instructor of the Yr, and was named the 2007 Walmart Native Instructor of the Yr. Mr. Cisetti holds a Bachelor of Music Schooling, a Grasp of Arts, and an Instructional Specialist diploma from the College of Missouri-Kansas Metropolis Conservatory of Music and Faculty of Schooling. Mr. Cisetti has served on the Board of Administrators of the Kansas Bandmasters Affiliation. He’s additionally a member of the Nationwide Band Affiliation, the Kansas Music Educators Affiliation, and the Nationwide Affiliation for Music Schooling.

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Catherina Hurlburt, Advertising Communications Supervisor. January 10, 2019. © Nationwide Affiliation for Music Schooling (