Student Jobs in Music Classes

As I work to empower my students, this year I added student jobs in band and orchestra. At the beginning of the year, we talked about responsibility. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves and to the group. With the addition of jobs, students now get to fulfill specific roles during instrumental lessons and rehearsals to help with functionality and team building.

Student Jobs in Music Classes
Student job badges

For each job, I created a badge with the title and job description and put it on a lanyard. All lanyards are hanging on the board under a sign that says, “Available Jobs for Today.” When students come to class, they can choose a job for that day. The jobs range from administrative duties to musical tasks. I do not require students to perform jobs during class. They are encouraged to try different things and make sure everyone has the opportunity if wanted. So far this system is working quite well.

Music Librarian

When this job is available, it means there is music (or something else) to distribute. Students distribute the materials at the beginning of class. This enables me to take care of other things or simply greet the class during that time.

Supply Manager´╗┐

This student is responsible for the Student Center – the area in the classroom where students can get supplies like pencils, valve oil, rosin, extra books, etc. The Student Center must be kept neat and tidy. The Supply Manager alerts me to any supplies that need replenishing. During lessons, the Supply Manager also distributes a clothespin bag to each student.

A clothespin bag contains five clothespins. Students should have one clipped to their music stands during individual and partner practice. The green clothespin means everything is good. Yellow means there is a (non-urgent) question. Red means there is an urgent question or problem – the example I give students is a broken instrument. Another clothespin has LT on it, which stands for Learning Target. It means the student wants me to listen to one of their learning target songs, as opposed to making and submitting a video. The final clothespin is a camera labeled, “Request a Selfie.” This clothespin means the student wants a selfie taken to share either with their family or on social media. This isn’t used too often, but I am always happy to oblige when a student asks!

Historian

The Historian is responsible for documenting one great thing that happened in class that day. There is a poster on one of the bulletin boards where the Historian for each class adds a post-it note describing the great thing from that day. It’s fun to look at the poster and see what students are sharing each day.

Tech Support

This job is exactly what it sounds like: someone to help with technology-related issues! I have found having a student available for tech support is helpful. All students have iPads and most are eager to help their classmates when questions arise. Occasionally there are issues the students can’t handle themselves, in which case I step in. For the most part, they usually take care of it without me.

Social Media Intern

The Social Media Intern gets to create a post for social media that shows what we learned in class that day. The Social Media Intern can take pictures or video during class using their iPad. At the end of class, the students submit their posts (text and media) via a Google Form. I check the post and make sure pictured students are allowed on social media, and then post it on our class Twitter and Instagram pages! I also created a private Wakelet collection of the posts so students can view them directly from our Canvas course. Currently, the job of Social Media Intern is only available during rehearsals, not lessons. It keeps the posting work-load manageable for me. In addition, this job is not first-come-first-served. Students must sign-up in advance to be the Social Media Intern so that everyone gets the opportunity.

Warm-Up Leader

The Warm-Up Leader is the newest job and for now is only available during group lessons. The Warm-Up Leader is responsible for choosing a warm-up for the group to do together. This student also gets to lead the warm-up and give any necessary feedback. I enjoy seeing what the students choose for warm-ups and how they respond to leading their peers. While the students are running warm-up, I can attend to other tasks as needed. Sometimes I will grab an instrument and play along! I added this job as an option when I felt the students understood the warm-up routine well enough to replicate it effectively. The students still have the option of what to do and how to do it (some are quite creative!) but needed to have enough prior knowledge to execute it on their own. After the students become more comfortable leading warm-ups in a small group setting, I plan to add this job to the ensemble rehearsals as well.

The Benefits

While the addition of jobs is not a huge change in my classroom, I think it has made a difference! It’s good to see students taking ownership of the classroom and parts of the rehearsal. Having students do tasks like Music Librarian and Supply Manager free me to either do other things or help other students. The students are also surprisingly fair, making sure everyone gets a chance to do each job during lessons. With the lanyard system, I only display the jobs needed each class period so I can easily add or take away jobs as needed. I think it’s important to note, whatever system of distributing jobs you choose, be sure that ALL students have the opportunity to do a job. These should not be saved only for the “good kids” or those who are consistently high achieving. I have actually noticed that students who aren’t as strong musically tend to have a better attitude during class when they have a job to do. It’s something they can feel good about.

Student Jobs in Music Classes

If you don’t currently have any student jobs in your classroom, I recommend you try it! Pick a small task that a student could do, either administrative or part of the classroom routine, and give it a try. It’s one small thing you can do to empower students, which is so important in the classroom. It is sure to be a good experience for everyone involved.

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