Concert and Marching Band Consulting
Why Acquire a Clinician? Three Reasons.
First, attempting to prepare an ensemble for competition or an important performance without help is like someone trying to man the air-traffic control tower at a major airport alone. It can be done, but not well. There’s simply too much happening in real time for a person’s brain to assimilate everything as it happens and respond to each issue appropriately.
Secondly, when a director is listening from the podium, our visual stimulus tends to override what we hear. Regardless of how earnestly we try to focus on the aural aspects—the sounds—our brain is still receiving data from our eyes. This is unavoidable—we simply do not hear as much on the podium as when we observe. Not only miss many opportunities to correct obvious technical and musical problems in our performance but more importantly, we miss the opportunity to teach our students how to perform musically and free from these common mistakes. We lose the most valuable aspect of our profession—the opportunity to teach young people how to perform well.
We all have the tendency at times to become somewhat “single-minded” regarding what we perceive to be our weaknesses and how to approach them. We can become hyper-focused on one or two concepts to the point that we become less aware of other perhaps more significant issues that creep into our performance unnoticed.
There are certainly more reasons to justify hiring a consultant than presented here–and there are just as many right and wrong ways to go about using a consultant.
The Wrong Way to Utilize a Consultant
The most common mistake that is made in conjunction with hiring a consultant is the practice of bringing a person in only weeks or even months prior to the competition or performance. In many cases it will result in the “too little, too late” scenario. At this stage, the best one can expect is to hope the consultant can help you “plug the biggest leaks” and fix the most glaring concerns. This can be frustrating for both the director and the consultant.
For most ensembles, it’s not so much problems with notes and rhythms and result in a poor performance. It’s more of fundamental issues involving the characteristic sounds of the individual performers and the organization’s concept of ensemble sound.
So, what is the most efficient way to utilize a consultant and how do you achieve the greatest benefit for you as a teacher and your students?
The Correct Way to Utilize a Consultant
Begin early! You should meet with your consultant at least twice during the months prior to the start of the school year to discuss your program’s strengths and limitations. With schools and directors that I work with, I will also use these meetings to discuss curriculum, goals, and a schedule that will provide the opportunity to hear the ensemble(s) on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Weekly or bi-weekly visits should begin once all of the traditional “start of school” formalities and campus/district paperwork has been addressed. It is very important that visits begin as soon as possible. Developing affective habits and techniques that reinforce and strengthen your students’ individual musical and ensemble skills cannot wait until contest music is given to the students. When I consult with directors, I will leave a very detailed action plan that is designed for his/her students’ specific needs.
In addition to focusing on the large ensemble, we will also address program planning in regards to section rehearsals, appropriate and productive student assessment methods, and preparing students for region auditions and solo festival.
Fees and Payments
I have never had an established payment expectation. While the approximate payment for a single-day clinic is usually $150 – $200 for working with two one-hour classes held back to back (1st/2nd Period, 2nd/3rd Period, etc.), when consulting on a consistent schedule (weekly, bi-weekly), I work with each school’s director to determine a monthly fee according to the budget that is available to them.
For example, it would be much more beneficial and productive to attend rehearsals twice a month for $100 per visit than to hear the ensemble only once for a $200 payment. In all cases, travel expenses will be added to the monthly invoice and are based on the mileage expense rate established by the State of Texas.
The first summer meeting is considered to be a free consultation session. The fee for the second pre-school meeting would be based on the fee schedule agreed upon by the director and consultant.
Payment is expected during the first week of the month follow the month services are performed.
For more information, contact me using either method listed below.
Imagine what can be accomplished when you make consulting a consistent part of your professional growth.