Frank Battisti to Band Teachers: Get rid of the Trophy Cases

The quality of this lecture audio is not great, but Frank Battisti makes some great points about examining the objectives of school music programs and asking the question, “Do those programs serve the schools or the students?”

“Has there been too much emphasis on the drilling of students for performances of music, both indoors and outdoors that is often of low or mediocre quality, in order to create the best band, choir, jazz ensemble, instead of offering students musical experiences that have the potential of helping them develop their creative potential and appreciation of musical art?”

Battisti states that the objective should be to nurture the students’ creative potential as well as re-creative skills.

“For a young musician, playing in a rock band might offer more opportunity to create in playing and singing than traditional school ensembles. They have opportunities to compose their own tunes, orchestrate the music, and participate in improvisation. Shouldn’t this type of experience – creating one’s own music be included in the rehearsal activities of school ensembles? My answer is a resounding yes. Getting young people hooked on the creative experience is an important objective of a music education program.

“If a student’s ensemble experience is basically drilling in the quest for a superior rating, there’s a good chance that they might decide to terminate their school music activities when they leave high school.”

“Directors of college ensembles will tell you that every year they encounter many entering freshman who tell them they don’t want to participate in music for the reason stated above: excessive drilling experiences that burn them out. When this is the case, it is very sad.”

Battisti sees the proper experience of a music student as one of revelation, discovery, expressiveness, and creativity. “In my school system, we had no trophy cases,” he says. “But boy, did we have a lot of prizes. Every kid was a prize. And they were good.” (Lecture segmented into 8 YouTube videos)

9 thoughts on “Frank Battisti to Band Teachers: Get rid of the Trophy Cases”

  1. Wow – he was saying this stuff back in 2001. This is PRECISELY the point I just made in a recent blog article. If public music education is going to survive the budget chopping block, it needs to stop being “performance crazy” and start teaching music creativity for every student.

  2. Thomas:

    I did remember your comments here regarding the self-perpetuating nature of school music programs when I came across Frank’s lecture. Thanks for the input, and please add a link here to your blog article that expands on this idea.



  3. Just came across this blog post. As a former student of Mr. Battisti’s at NEC, I can tell you that listening to this lecture took me back to those days we sat in his office and listened to him speak about music and music education with a passion unmatched by anyone I have met before or since. He is THE man!

  4. Maj. Robinson:

    I enjoy recognizing great music teachers here because their jobs are demanding and have such an impact on the lives of their students.

    Thanks for dropping in. Come back!

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