Our goal with Band Together has been clear from the beginning: our performing arts program will become a true reflection of the student body. This means engaging more Latino and low-income youth in band, choir, and the winter musical and giving all students access to high quality arts education.
The music teacher, Rebecca Nederhiser uses rubrics, surveys and student interviews to determine student learning in band, choir and the musical. Interview-based inquiry has proven to be particularly important in gauging student interest and perception as we move forward and make adjustments to programming.
We have found that a willingness to listen to our students both through formal surveys and informal conversation has allowed us to develop a student-driven learning environment. This year student opinion encouraged us to pivot our programming to include more opportunity in music technology, visual art and after school classes. The music technology lab has inspired a new level of interest in music composition and experimentation. After-school visual arts classes helped us recruit more Latino students to become a part of the winter musical and they engaged many Latina girls in an ongoing club with a college-aged Latina teaching artist who become a natural role model.
We measure program success by increased participation from Latino and low-income students. To our surprise, our efforts are paying off already. Although, we have found engaging Latino families to be much more difficult than we envisioned, the students are enrolling in band and choir and participating in the musical like never before.
To engage families, which ultimately influences student learning, we have created a Latino Advisory Committee and we have a new Latina project team member. Next year we will add more after-school classes and have regular meetings with the Latino Advisory Committee. We will continue to survey students both formally and informally to inform the program choices that are made, so ultimately Band Together will reflect the student’s interests.