Band Moms - looking for insight here...chair test related.

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Posted 11/14/2013 by MizIndependent in NSBR Board
 

MizIndependent
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:26:26 PM
Updated for any interested:

Well, I met with the Band director today, just a few minutes, nothing terribly formal. I wanted to understand her position.

She said she understands why there's an issue and has already decided to not let the year-long chair assignment stand so, if nothing else, DD will get to try again at the end of the semester. She doesn't even want to invite the drama and competitiveness that chair-challenges could bring and I respect that.

My biggest point with her was the fact that it is established that all testers use the same music and this just wasn't what happened here. It's an integrity issue at it's most basic. I said, "If DD retests and loses because she didn't practice then that is on her and she would accept it...but because the testing criteria wasn't the same it literally isn't a fair assessment." The fairness issue and the integrity of the whole thing is at stake and she agreed on that point.

She brought up the fact that DD beat out a senior last year for 1st chair and how upset he was about that and I was able to remind her that "yes, but they were both given the same music and he admittedly didn't practice as he should have. DD won that fair and square."

She's a very reasonable and kind person and said she is willing to ask DD's section if all of them would be willing to retest (3 people). If they are, they will all be given the same (new) music, same amount of time to prepare and then the chips will fall where they may. I agreed that was a great compromise that would help restore faith in the system and that definitely needs to happen because the entire band is watching this whole thing play out and for the moment, the test's integrity is just shot.

We shall see what happens.

--------------------------------------------------------
Background: My oldest plays alto sax is a senior in high school, has earned 1st chair every single year even beating out a senior last year (because he admittedly didn't practice).

The situation: Chair tests were conducted this week, music was handed out last week, they all have the same time period to practice, are tested by the Marching Band instructor (who is the Drum Major of UofO Marching). The director is brand new this year, so is the tester.

Testing happens and my DD and her section is shocked that DD got 2nd chair. It later comes out that the person who got 1st chair was allowed to use music from last year, which is not only a bit easier but is also familiar to this girl - a clear advantage.

The director told DD's section today that she will not retest her section even though the testing was not fairly done. Never in the history of DD being in band has something like this been allowed to happen - all students have been tested on the exact same music and that is done for a reason. I'm upset for DD but have stepped completely back to let her handle it.

My question is, what reasoning could be going on in the head of the director to not at least retest the section? They all are in agreement that it's not right (yes, even the girl who "won" 1st chair). I just don't get it.




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MergeLeft
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:28:44 PM
Are they allowed to challenge for a higher chair? If so, the problem may be quickly remedied.

I can't imagine what the new director was thinking - he's opened himself up to a lot of problems by not being consistent with expectations like that.

MizIndependent
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:31:40 PM

Are they allowed to challenge for a higher chair? If so, the problem may be quickly remedied.
Oooo...that's a great idea! I'll suggest it to DD. Man, this whole thing could be over in a week, lol! Thank you!

And you're right...this is this director's very first teaching job so, pretty new ground for her.



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maryannscraps
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:32:00 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. Back in the dark ages when I was in band, we played whatever current solo we were working on -- nobody played the same piece. I'm sure the tester could make a decision without it being the exact same piece.

She can probably challenge for first chair if she really wants it.

Angieh1996
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:33:10 PM
Can she challenge? I'd do that and it will probably solve the problem.


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Oliquig
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:33:25 PM
I have no reason except pure laziness on the director's part. My niece is in 7th grade and she plays alto/bari sax. She is 1st sax and low brass section leader, beating out several 8th graders and she won them fair and square.

It really sucks for a new band director to come in and give such a bad choice right off the bat.

So sorry for your daughter, unless she goes above his head to the head of the music dept. I don't know anything else she could do.


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peasful1
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:35:56 PM
I'm surprised neither one of you thought of this as I'm sure as first chair she's been challenged before.

My DD had a bad test and got second chair. Her first thought was that she was going to challenge at the first opportunity. Although she noticed that even as second chair she got first chair music.


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MizIndependent
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Posted: 11/14/2013 6:39:22 PM

I'm surprised neither one of you thought of this as I'm sure as first chair she's been challenged before.
I've never been in band so this isn't a natural thought for me. I'm not sure DD's band allows this so, that would explain why she didn't think of it either.

She could, though, propose it as a way out for the director (if it's not something that is allowed). The director could save face and everything would naturally correct or stay as it stands and she'd have to accept the outcome, which she would have done initially if they had been fairly tested to begin with.



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RST
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Posted: 11/14/2013 7:37:42 PM
<<---- Mom of 3 in band(s). Chair rankings are not long-term or permanent. Some band leaders use chair tests as a motivator to keep kids on their toes and practicing competitively. The practice of challenges from 2nd or 3rd chair is common friendly competition. My sons challenge or are challenged constantly -- every other week of so.

So the guy is new. Doesn't mean that he didn't know what he was doing. He may just be trying to shake up the established order and create a new culture in the group. He may see some quality in the girl who moved up -- musicality, or a leadership ability, that he wants to encourage. He may want to see your daughter put more into it and not rest on her laurels. Lots of possible scenarios.




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MizIndependent
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Posted: 11/14/2013 8:52:59 PM
Yeah... DD confirmed they have one chair test per year and no challenges allowed. What a backwards way of doing things, especially since the opposite seems to be the norm.



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sharonmnc
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Posted: 11/14/2013 9:02:33 PM

The director is brand new this year, so is the tester.
Yikes. Sorry you have to deal with this. It's not fun. Paying favorites is a rookie mistake. Our new director let them vote on section leader then broke the tie himself by picking someone he's crazy about but who's a mess. It doesn't affect my kid but he doesn't give her the time of day.


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slkmommy
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Posted: 11/14/2013 9:02:37 PM
Challenges have their own issues.

I challenged a girl in 6th grade for first chair in an advanced band....

I won. She cried. A lot. We were friends.

We hugged. We promised that we would never challenge each other again. For the rest if school even if we could really move up we refused to challenge each other.

Surprisingly though we had no issues challenging others

For a chair test to be fair everyone should have the same music.


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PinkShirley
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Posted: 11/14/2013 9:03:16 PM
Use this as a good lesson that you will not always come first in the game of life. Work harder to beat the 1st chair on pure talent.

Monklady123
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Posted: 11/14/2013 9:21:36 PM

So sorry for your daughter, unless she goes above his head to the head of the music dept. I don't know anything else she could do.

Well I was going to reply to this by saying "of course she can do something else -- challenge!" But then I see that the OP said her dd's band doesn't do this. Odd... to be honest I haven't heard of bands that don't have challenges. My ds and two other trumpets challenged each other as often as they were allowed. They rotated in and out of first chair depending on who was having an off day. lol.



MerryMom937
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Posted: 11/15/2013 7:21:23 AM

It later comes out that the person who got 1st chair was allowed to use music from last year, which is not only a bit easier but is also familiar to this girl - a clear advantage.


If this is, in fact, true, then your daughter should ask to speak to the director. If not, then you can call the band director directly. No emails.

I am not sure of the special education rules, but maybe the student was someone with an accommodation?

It just seems like there is more to the story due to how "odd" it is that this student is the only one who was allowed to play music from last year.

ETA: Our school has over 200 kids in Marching Band. During winter and spring, we have enough kids for 3 orchestras (winds then symphonic then concert) and a jazz band. My son made first chair in Winds Orchestra for baritone his freshman year and 6 other upper classmates challenged him for his spot, but he still maintained his first chair. At our school, a student was allowed 1 challenge only and it had to be within the first week after "chairs" were posted.

Low Brass rules!!

mom2ja2
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Posted: 11/15/2013 7:47:47 AM
Wow, that sucks!

I really don't get the logic of giving one student different music to test on - you certainly don't give different math tests, so why would you give different music tests?

Not being able to challenge makes sense to me. The music is likely divided into parts - 1st & 2nd chair may have more difficult music than the other chairs...1st chair might have a solo. You don't switch in the middle & then make the whole band struggle while people learn new parts.

I really think this one deserves a call to the director. I'm very hands off with stuff like this, but it sounds like your DD has worked her ass off & this is not the way to lose 1st chair. They at least owe her an explanation as to why the students were not tested on equal pieces of music.

And then at the very least, they need to do a playing test for chairs at the semester.

Hope your dd keeps her chin up!





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pretzels
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Posted: 11/15/2013 8:14:49 AM
I wouldn't sweat it. Second chair is still going to play first part. Yeah, it was unfair, but that's life. My DD got third chair on her chair test two weeks ago because she had a bad reed and it squeaked. She played everything correctly, just the reed had a crack in it. My DD is just in sixth grade beginning band, so they have chair tests all the time. She just made sure before the next test she had good reeds and she got first chair.

hop2
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Posted: 11/15/2013 8:59:07 AM


Well I was going to reply to this by saying "of course she can do something else -- challenge!" But then I see that the OP said her dd's band doesn't do this. Odd... to be honest I haven't heard of bands that don't have challenges. My ds and two other trumpets challenged each other as often as they were allowed. They rotated in and out of first chair depending on who was having an off day. lol.

Our band does not have challenges. However the 'first chair' for each song may change as per who is most capable of playing that part consistently, (literally they get up and switch seats between songs ). But the title of 'first chair' for the band stays with the person who earns it the beginning of the year. Solo's are always 'up for grabs' and each person who wishes to can audition for the solo. If the 'first chair' really screws up the band director would handle it I'm sure but that has never happened.

MizIndependent
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Posted: 11/15/2013 1:59:38 PM
*bump* for update.



Youtube: Hungry For Change - Your Health is in Your Hands. Dieting doesn't work, this movie tells you why.

Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behavior does.

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