Marching band season is over. No matter whether that statement makes you feel sad or relieved, it’s time to move on to concert band season and the new opportunities and challenges it brings. As you know all too well, marching band season is totally consuming. You spend all summer planning, then band camp hits and you’re in the thick of it for months with practices, performances, fundraisers and other events. But as your group’s last marching performance becomes a memory, you now must move straight into concert band season.

Time to Reflect

First, give yourself some time to reflect on your marching season. Make note of what worked and what didn’t in terms of practices, rehearsals, music selection, drill selection and any other elements. Take a look at what strengths emerged from your students and where you continued to see areas to improve on. While concert band is a different beast from marching band, there may be weak spots that you can tackle during concert band that will help you next year when you’re planning for marching season again. Also evaluate your staff and determine if any changes need to be made with any of your full-time or seasonal assistants.

Full Focus on Playing

With marching band, your students had to spend an immense amount of time learning the drills and they spent a lot of energy focusing on their body movements. This prohibited them from fully concentrating on their mechanics, sound and intonation. With concert band, the musicians can now embrace the opportunity to fully focus on the music and their playing, instead of having to focus so much on drills and body movement. Encourage students to get back to the basics and refocus on their skills and musicianship.

Keep the Discipline

It’s your job to carry over the discipline and structure you established in marching band. Don’t lose steam on rehearsals, practice schedules and other plans. Draw up calendars and post them immediately so your students (and their parents) know what to expect for the remainder of concert season. Ensure staff, students and parents know when and where performances will be held so that planning and travel arrangements for family can start right away. If you need more information about planning for concerts, this Concert Planning Checklist will help.

Identify the Strengths

As concert band practice and rehearsals commence, you’ll start to notice your strongest players as well as those who need improvement. What can you do to play up the band’s strengths? What section are the strengths most obvious (and conversely, where are the weaknesses most clear) - woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion? This is your chance to shine as an educator, to highlight the best of your group and instill confidence and fundamentals to bring up the weaker players.

Choose Your Music Wisely

What kind of concert music do you want to focus on this year? With your ongoing assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of your players, your upcoming holiday concerts give you the perfect chance to plan for music that will build up to skills you want to exhibit in spring at competitions. For example, if you have an amazing trumpet section, this is your chance to choose a holiday selection that will really get the horns ready for the challenge of playing a winning piece in the spring. Now is your opportunity to adjust your repertoire to fit your group.

Looking Ahead

Whether you prefer marching band season, concert band season, or you have equal love for them both, embrace this time indoors as a chance to explore new music, build your students’ musical skills and put on crowd-pleasing performances that will prepare you for spring competition.