In this post, I have included five more reasons to start a rock band at your school. This a sequel post to one from back in 2017 called, 5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Rock Band at Your School (Part 1). All 10, as well as others, are included in Chapter 1 of my book called “Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools.” Much of this comes directly from the book but is altered to fit the context of the blog post.
1. ROCK BAND PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPANSION
The fact is that this type of music gets more students interested in your program and wanting to participate in extracurricular activities. During my spring concerts, all of the other students from Grades 4–6 did choreographed dances to a few of the songs that the bands had played. The dancing helped to involve more of the school than just those involved with a class song, choir, rock band, or guitar club. This is another way that the band helps to involve more students in the music program in general. An extracurricular guitar club can be a much less stressful way of implementing rock music into your program than a rock ensemble if you need a place to start. In time, the guitar club can act as a feeder program for the rock band, which over time may grow into multiple ensembles. Later, in Chapter 10, I will give effective ways in which to incorporate rock ensembles into your classroom to hook more students and not just have rock band as an extracurricular ensemble.
2. ROCK BAND DEVELOPS MUSICAL INDEPENDENCE MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN OTHER ENSEMBLES
By nature, rock bands do not need a conductor. This forces these musicians to listen to each other and play as an ensemble. Sure, I’ve had to remind my bands a few times to listen to each other and pay attention, but if a teacher can resist the over-whelming urge to play with or conduct their students, then students begin to rely on each other more and develop their ability to play with other musicians much quicker and much more effectively. During this past year’s spring concert, I may have given each band three or four visual cues and then sat back at the sound board and let them do all of the music on their own. Essentially, if they are being coached well, eventually they won’t need you.
3. ROCK BANDS WORK REALLY WELL WITH SMALL CLASS SIZES
Although regular class sizes are expanding, many times in intermediate or high schools where music is not mandatory, class sizes are smaller or are dwindling. Wind bands need large numbers of students to be effective. Rock bands will work with as little as four students and as many as 30. The larger classes would be divided into smaller ensembles that would stay together for the year or rotate members but still keep the small ensembles intact.
4. ROCK BANDS BREED INSTRUMENT VERSATILITY
I don’t know a lot of rock musicians who only play one instrument in the band. It is very common for rock musicians to be able to play multiple instruments, or even every instrument in the rock band quite well. This is because rock musicians learn based on interest and will naturally gravitate to learning new instruments because they are not forced to play only one for an extended period of time. A broader discussion on how rock musicians learn is in Chapter 6. A prime example of this in the rock music world is Dave Grohl who played drums in the grunge band Nirvana, as well as other bands like Queens of the Stone Age but is also guitar and lead vocalist for the band Foo Fighters. The Beatles were also famous for playing multiple instruments on their studio albums. I have had groups in the past that were primarily singers but wanted to play keyboards in a particular song and another instance where a singer had to fill in for a guitar player in a concert. Their skill on both was strong enough that they were able to do both. We have even attempted having everyone in the band switch to a new instrument for one song. Chapter 10 discusses how this practice may look in a school setting.
5. ROCK BANDS ARE LESS EXPENSIVE THAN OTHER ENSEMBLES
Due to the rate at which instruments such as electric guitars, drums, and keyboards are produced, they are much less expensive than many other types of instruments. Much of the time, because they are so plentifully produced, chances are pretty good that there are people in the community that will donate them to your school. Chapter 3 discusses ways you can acquire these instruments and all the gear that you will need to be successful with it.
 Portions of these two sections (Provides Opportunities for Expansion and Develops Musical Independence More Effectively Than Other Ensembles) were previously published in the Canadian Music Educator Journal volume 52, issue 2, pp. 33–36.
- Giddings, Steve. “Why Our Work Matters.” Canadian Music Educator 58, no. 1 (2016): 42–43.
- Giddings, Steve. “Popular Music Education: A Different Type of Musicianship; the follow-up.” Canadian Music Educator 52, no. 2 (2010): 33–36.
- Giddings, Steve (2017) Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools. Steve’s Music Room Publishing.