If there is anyone that is returning after our first post, welcome back! I suppose time will tell how helpful this is to people, but I have this image in my head of me talking to an empty gym with my voice echoing because of the empty bleachers.
Now that we have the kids’ instruments prepared, we need to talk about that first class. There is a lot to unpack here, so we’ll start with how to set up your classroom and how it will change throughout the year. If you’re a band director, these early posts can apply to pretty much any class.
When students come into the room for the first time, I will have the chairs set up in a circle without any stands. I want the students to be able to see exactly what I’m doing at all times, so anything that would hinder their line of sight to me is removed. We also won’t be doing anything that requires the instrument out of the case. If you don’t have the space to do a single arc or a circle, I would create multiple rows where students sit in the window of the row in front of them and are angled towards where I’ll be standing. Below are some other things to consider for your class.
Student distance to the front of the room
The farther students are from you or the whiteboard, the more difficult it will be to see and hear the information. The more students you have, you may not be able to fit them all on one row. Wiggly students may have a hard time paying attention if they have to look through a sea of other students and shiny instruments. If you have students who struggle to focus, you can help them by having them sit near the front of the room.
Spacing between students
The teacher really should be moving throughout the classroom, watching for things like posture and hand position, so spacing is important. Consider that when the students are playing, the width of the instrument is going to add about 6 inches off to their side (I teach to balance on the right leg, but more on that later) and they are going to have a saxophone case at their seat, there needs to be enough space between them that you can comfortably walk through the room. This also helps eliminate distractions among the students.
What other instruments are using the space
If you’re like me, you don’t like having to move chairs and stands between classes; we only teach our students for 20 minutes, so having them take the time to move their own chair is out of the question. If you’re teaching another large class, like clarinet, you can assign every other chair to your saxophone students. There is still space between them and you can at least set up the rows so you can walk behind them (which, let me repeat, you should ABSOLUTELY be doing).
Alright, I promise you we’re almost to the first class. Before settling on classroom setup, I had actually started writing about the first class, but realized there were several layers to that first class and I don’t want these posts to be longer than a 3-5 minute read.
See you in the next thread! Have a good day!