The teacher collaborates with students, families, colleagues, other professionals, and community members to share responsibility for student growth and development, learning, and well-being.
A major component to having a successful music program is the collaboration, or partnership with other groups of people outside the immediate members of the program. These groups of people include students’ parents, school board members, community members, local organizations/businesses, schools within the district or surrounding it, and local media groups. Without the support of these groups, a music program will struggle. In other words, “It takes a village”. First of all, keeping an open line of communication with students’ parents as well as making an actual effort to get to know them is huge in creating a positive rapport with them. If done successfully, parents can be an immense help to a music program; from needing hands to help with marching band props, chaperones for contests/trips, strong members in the band booster’s organization, to simply having strong advocates for your students and music program in the community, “band parents” are the way to go. School board members are another group of people that are always nice to have on your side. They often are tasked with making decisions for the school that might affect the music programs, so connecting with members on the board is always beneficial. Local organizations/businesses are always looking to support other groups within the community as well. Often times, they are willing to contribute to funding something within the program, or provide spaces/venues to perform, which then gives students even more performance opportunities. Collaborating with other schools can be both beneficial for the students and the teacher. Opening a line of friendly communication with another school (within the district like a feeder school or even outside the district) can open up collaborating performance opportunities, shared music literature, or even influence students to continue on from middle school band into high school band. Local media can do a lot for a music program as well. They love sharing success stories within the community, or advertising events, which will definitely help grow a music program and simply get the word out to the community. All in all, collaborating with people outside of the program is a must if the music program is to thrive!
Since I haven’t been in any position of power in a music program yet, I don’t have much personal experience in creating moments for collaboration. However, I have been so immensely blessed to be a part of successful programs that have all had incredible community and family support. For example, I recently finished my last season of drum corps with the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. Without question, no drum corps would stay afloat without the support of volunteers (which are typically parents or super fans) and local sponsors. One big event that we always hosted each summer was an annual 5K called “Running with the Stars” to create a presence within the community of our home base which is in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The event was always a success; we would all run a 5K with who ever came out to support us, and then we would play our show as well as our corps song and some encore tunes to show our appreciation of their support. We would also march in local parades, which always brought attention and fans to our group! Another example (on a somewhat smaller scale), is the band parent presence at the high school I currently teach marching band at. As a student, you never really realize what band parents do for the program. However, now that I am on the other side, I have noticed just how much the parents do. They feed the kids lunch and dinner on every contest day, they provide snacks on longer rehearsal days, they build and maintain the props, they load the percussion equipment and props, and even more! They are amazing! I truly believe that without these parents, this program would not be nearly as successful! Even outside of the parent presence, there is a very large level of support within the community; there are always send-off’s on contest days as well as media coverage for their events! I also personally believe that music programs are always way more enjoyable when you have people on the “outside” that show their support and appreciation for the program - and they always end up being wonderful human beings too!
Like I mentioned before, I’m not currently in a position to create moments of collaboration. However, I am incredibly excited to open up lines of communication and collaboration between myself and parents, media, businesses/organizations, and the community as a whole! I plan on keeping parents regularly updated on what we are doing in class as well as asking for any type of support I feel like the program needs at any given time. I also intend to create a positive relationship with members of the school board as well as the surrounding schools (inside and outside of the district)!