For anyone who has ever sat in a band rehearsal, you have probably gone through the routine of setting up and checking the board for the rehearsal order. Or maybe it’s been slightly updated and you’re checking your email beforehand at your community band rehearsal like I do.
For those school band directors who are fortunate enough to have a projector or some sort of screen at the front of their rehearsal space, I encourage you to consider creating a digital rehearsal agenda. While it may seem like a bit of extra work to type this up before rehearsal each day there can be a lot of other benefits.
For starters let me explain what a digital rehearsal plan looks like. The one I use is built using Google Slides. I’ve set up a template that includes the date, rehearsal goals, the warm-up, and the main pieces we are working on. upcoming rehearsal schedules, assignments, and announcements. For each day that I have a rehearsal, I simply duplicate the slide and edit the changes.
By duplicating the slide and making a new one each day we arrive at the first big benefit – you now have a record of each rehearsal throughout the year! I know of many band directors that get to the end of a marking period or the year and suddenly their principal or supervisor is asking about lesson plans. At that point, a lot of poorly written “plans” derived from the back of napkins suddenly get submitted. I’m fortunate that I’m allowed to work with and submit unit plans for my lesson plans sparing me having to submit something for each day, but I still use the link to the Google Slide in my unit plans to show that there is a daily plan.
Another element that I put in the agenda is the rehearsal goal(s) and the success criteria – you know, that thing administrators want to see so that the students know what they’re working on and know when they get there. If you’re using a Danielson rubric, this is a place you can start to show those things. If you don’t know what a Danielson Rubric is, well, lucky you.
Another benefit to having all of your plans for each day in one place is that it is easy to go back and look at what you did. Take it a step further and make a note after the rehearsals if there were things that you didn’t get to or went extra poorly or extra well. Is this a bit overkill? Couldn’t I just write these things on the board? Yes, but having that living record after the period allows us the chance to more accurately go back and reflect on our teaching. What administrator wouldn’t love to see a document that you use to reflect on how things went from day to day.
Rehearsal plans don’t just have to be limited to rehearsal plans either. I also post the announcements for each rehearsal. This helps me not to forget them and makes a nice list for the students to see. These announcements also include our rotation of days that we meet. I even use it on special schedule days to remember what time we end!
If we are keeping in mind that the point of these rehearsal agendas is to share information with the students about rehearsal, another benefit of storing them in something like a Google Slide is that you can post that to your LMS of choice (Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, whatever). Students can then see what they were working on previously, and if you plan out a few rehearsals ahead, what they should be practicing.
Having a digital plan also allows you to post links or embed videos. This first of all will make it easy to find them for you and play them without switching too many tabs or windows, but if you have shared the document with your students this will also allow the students to go back and rewatch or click on the content.