Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

Teaching Band in Illinois

Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

Teaching Band in Illinois

Article excerpt

Abstract

Band Directors teaching in Illinois public school (n=163) responded to a survey examining their professional preparation, responsibilities, and perceptions of trends. Respondents represented urban, rural, and suburban schools at all levels of K-12 schooling. Among the most salient results are that many feel they are doing more with less, e.g., teaching more children, teaching more classes (including general music), spending more time in assessment, and working with a more diverse student population (including children with disabilities and those for whom English is a second language). Many are accomplishing these things with less money and fewer teachers than five years ago. Nearly all, however, described the positive aspects of their work with a sense of pride in the good work they are able to accomplish in their classes, schools, and community. Most respondents reflected the general belief that participation in band can help children grow emotionally and in ways that support their humanity, ability to work with others, and intellect. Results are applicable to many aspects of music teacher education.

Teaching Band in Illinois

School band programs in the United States have evolved a distinctive culture characterized by shared identity, practices, traditions, social interactions, clubs, repertoire, and more. Although the school band movement is barely a century old, the history of the concert band in America extends back to its heyday during the 19th and early 20th centuries (Hansen, 2005). Keene (1982) notes that "in 1889 there were ten thousand adult and juvenile bands in the United States" (p. 285). Throughout this history, the state of Illinois has been prominent (Battisti, 2002). Today, taken as a whole, Illinois' school band culture appears vibrant, with thousands of children in rural, suburban, and urban settings playing instruments and participating in regional and state events (Illinois Grade School Music Association, Illinois Music Educators Association). Despite its history and apparent vibrancy, however, concerns about the future of band programs in Illinois are common.

The demographics of Illinois are such that it is "normal" in many respects when compared with the nation as a whole. The population of males (49%) and females (51%) and average family size (3.29) are approximately the same as found throughout the United States. The state is somewhat more affluent than the rest of the U.S. with a median income of $50,260 compared to the US median of $46,242. It is also somewhat better educated with 29.2% of the population holding a Bachelor's degree compared to 27.2% throughout the U.S. Somewhat fewer families (9.2%) live below the poverty line compared to the U. S. as a whole (10.2% ) (U.S. Census Bureau American FactFinder).

The population of Illinois is more ethnically diverse than is the U.S. as a whole: 72.2% of its population is classified as White compared to a U.S. average of 74.7%. In addition, 21.5% of the state's population speaks a language at home other than English compared with 19.4% throughout the U.S. In Illinois, 5.9% of people ages 5-20 are defined as having a disability but not living in an institution, compared with 6.7% throughout the nation. On the other hand, Illinois is ranked 11th in the nation with respect to the number of children ages 6-21 served under IDEA (U.S. Department of Education, 2001).

Those who become music teachers were typically members of strong pre-college programs with influential music teachers and ensemble directors (Bergee et al, 2001; Bergee & Demorest, 2003; Madsen & Hancock, 2002). In these programs, they acquired entry-level musical skills along with an induction into band traditions, practices, social interactions, repertoire, and so on. College graduates of music education programs often expect to be able to work in a school that resembles their high school experience, or at least be in a position to build such a program. …

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