That sounds fun, extra work!
8 years ago I was asked to host our Region Honor Band, Choir and Orchestra. Our region consisted of five schools.I thought that would be a great honor for me to be able to host. It was not that much of an honor, just a ton of work. My band program ended up losing a lot of money to host. I later realized by expanding the program to involve more schools it would be more financially stable and benefit more programs.
Why go to all the work?
You probably already have other honor bands in your areas at colleges and universities. Why start your own? I can tell you the reason I liked it most of all was the benefit it gave to my kids. Every year I have one or two kids who make it into the All-State band and a few more that audition and make it into different honor bands. Every kid comes back from those rehearsals motivated to be a better player and to help make a better program. If you host one at your school more of your students can be involved and your band can benefit more from it.
Where do you start? Pick a day.
Talk to directors in your area and communicate with them your idea. Find a weekend when you are going to do this. Find a day that most directors are free and willing to give up to benefit their kids. You really need other directors there to make it a success. It is hard to plan around all the different activities but some of the things that we try to plan around are; musicals, state football play offs, swimming meets, speech and debate, drill team competitions, local community events, etc.
If I pay attention to the schedule it can really help out later. One year with only five bands, two back out because of the state football tournament. It was very difficult to run with bands missing. Now we run it in December because for our area we generally do not have to play at any basketball games. Musicals are over, it just seems to work out well. Other schools in our area do it one in January. Once again talk to local directors and decide but ultimately pick a weekend that works for you.
Pick a conductor.
Your first year is always going to be the biggest financial risk. The largest cost will be the conductor and his needs. You may want to find someone that lives close your first year so you do not have all the extra costs of hotels, paying for mileage etc.
Pick a director who you think can connect well with the kids. Ultimately, this is the most important choice you make to make this honor festival a success. My favorite guest conductors have been other high school teachers who are in the trenches right now teaching. They know what kids are like today and they can teach and make the whole experience fun.
Next week, Picking music and nominating the band.
Experienced band teacher, author, clinician and musician. Brian has a Masters in conducting from Sam Houston Sate University through the American Band College. He was quarter Finalist for Grammy "Educator of the Year" 2018
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