Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Chair challenges


concertA
 Share

Recommended Posts

Maybe you can help me with a situation involving my daughter: She had a chair challenge in her band-she was the one who issued the challenge. Well, she was nervous, of course-it's always harder to play in front of peers-and she messed up a note. The entire class laughed at her and then she tried again, but was very upset and got about half way through the piece, where she missed a note again. The class laughed at her again and the teacher told her she had failed and to sit down. The girl she challenged didn't even have to play. She is crushed and never wants to play her instrument again.

Is this how chair challenges are supposed to be? I was never in band in Jr. or High school, so I don't know if I am right to be outraged about this (mainly the laughing.)

Students: What are your experiences with chair challenges?

Parents: I feel that the teacher should have had better classroom control than to let the class humiliate my daughter like that. I have e-mailed her-but should I go and speak to her? Am I wrong to be upset on behalf of my daughter?

Teachers: What can I do to help her regain her confidence? She is just devastated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adult Student here. I have no experience with chair challenges even though I spent 6 - 7 years in a marching band / concert band in high school. Our seats were assigned by a yearly try-out performance where we were rated as to skill etc. There was no challenge considerations.

As far as the class laughing at your daughter, that was wrong. The teacher was wrong to let it happen. I personally would schedule a conference with the teacher if you get no response from the email. I think I would do it even if you do get a response from the email though I'm not sure what type of reparations can be made at this point. Your daughter is already hurt and embarassed, nothing will change that. The point now is to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else's child under this teacher's watch.

And no, you are definitely not wrong to be upset about this. It makes me angry just thinking about it.

Just my 2 cents.

Thanks,

Sharon B.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First and foremost speaking as the mom of a high school band (flute) student, I'd definitely encourage a face to face with the teacher, preferably with the school principal present. Teens have hugely fragile egos and a situation like this has the potential for far reaching negative consequences well beyond music.

My daughter has mentioned challenging the first chair, but to her credit, she knows she can win the chair and since the current first chair is a senior and she is a junior, she has opted to wait until next year. She's never said exactly how the process takes place however. It's hard to imagine that it would take place in front of the entire band/orchestra though.

I'm not sure I would have the first suggestion on how to get your daughter's confidence back because only you know your daughter. It certainly wouldn't hurt for not only the teacher to give her a private apology for letting things get that out of control, but you might want to ask your daughter how she would feel if the band itself offered her an apology. That could go either way depending on your daughter's personality. If each of those kids put themselves in your daughter's place and had that happen, how would they feel? A question that teacher needs to pose to the band either with or without your daughter present.

My inclination would be to encourage my daughter to keep playing her instrument in the band and not let the immaturity and insensitivity of her classmates take away something she loves. That is a choice your daughter will have to make.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That behaivor was inexcusable and the teacher should be severely reprimanded for allowing and participating in it. In my days - and this was long before the massive campaign of over coddling our youth started, this behaivor would have never been tolerated. I hate to think of what my teachers would have done had the class laughed at someone during a challenge, and ours were all done at least with the teacher's back to us,and sometimes from behid a screen (actually from inside a large instrument closet). The teacher really is liable for everything here. The challenged player must also have to play - what if she screwed up too. The auditions should have been out of sight of the judge, both players should have had to play, and the laughing should have resulted in a severe reprimand of the class. I'm quite sure that my middle and high scool teachers would have made everyone who laughed play the passage for the entire class. This teacher had better be in trouble.

This is a symptom of our 'new age'. Our youth are not being taught to treat each other with respect and consideration of dignity. We've become so informal and full of ourselves that we are becoming uncivilized.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in Junior High and High School I played Saxaphone in the school band. when we did challenges it was carried out by both members playing the piece together and the first person to mess up lost. I challenged the First Chair girl 3 times in Junior High and no matter how long we would play the pressure always got to me and I would mess up first. I never did beat her out for First Chair. I don't remember ever being laughed at for trying though. I suppose when someone would challenge who had no chance at all there might have been some sniggering, but I don't recall anyone being humiliated.

I think the teacher could definitely handle things differently. Kids can be very cruel but the teacher should be able to have more control. If nothing else they should play together in a private room and the class can be informed of the outcome. I remember how fragile self esteem can be at that age.

I hope she is able move beyond this and can learn that the opinions of people, especially those that don't even try count for nothing were your sense of self worth is concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmmmmmmm. Interesting topic.

My take on this:

Your kid has learned a life lesson. Kids are cruel, no doubt. The teacher is a moron, no doubt.

Challenges= two kids play. The best kid gets the chair, unless politics are involved ( I challenged older kids and smoked them, and they won).

The Lesson: Music is a hard gig, even if you are not a pro.I dont know if your kid missed a "note", or stunk up the joint. I have stunk up the joint many times, and it was a bad thing. It made me learn a lot: I wasnt prepared, and I prepare now.

When I was in high school, I was 15th chair in the Ohio youth thingee. I know that I played the best, but they put Seniors ahead.

I would tell your kid: these things happen, and life is not fair. It doesnt matter, the 14 people ahead of me are flippin burgers, and I play with serious people.

If she is crushed, print this post for her. I have lost MANY auditions because of this stuff. It doesnt matter, what matters is playing well.

Now go give that teacher he11. If the other kid didnt have to play, it is not a challenge, it is Teachers Pet Syndrome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a tough one. My first thought was to go into a-hole mode then go to the school and rip the teacher a new one. What the teacher did was wrong in so many ways, which others have elided. However more mature reflection leans me towards Kabals point of view that this is a harsh lesson but one that has to be learned at some point in time.

If if were my kid I would tell them to take this to the principal. I might go there with them but most definitely let them carry the ball. One item to insist upon is a public apology in front of the class from the teacher to the child.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all who have responded. I'm happy to know I'm not overreacting or being an overprotective mother.

Couple of things:

I have enjoyed hearing about other chair challenges. I think that the challenges shouldn't take place in front of the entire class-that it should be more private and/or anonymous, but...it's not my classroom and I can't tell another teacher how to manage her class.

Cedar-yes, I wanted to "rip her a new one" also. I was fightin' mad, but....unfortunately there are other politics involved. I am also a teacher in the same (small) school district, so I have to be more circumspect.

Kabal-She just missed a note (A natural-an accidental in the piece that was usually flat.) What bugged me is that she wasn't allowed to play through the mistake, she was stopped, at which point the class laughed. And then she was so freaked out she couldn't make it through the piece the second time. For me, playing in a symphony, if you screw up you don't have time to stop and go back, you HAVE to play through your mistakes...so that annoys me that she was stopped. Kabal, are you ever going to change that spiderman gif?

Here's another thing I've considered-and it relates to me being a teacher in the same district-sometimes, teachers with another teacher's child in class tend to treat the child more harshly and some treat the child more like a 'pet.' Perhaps this teacher falls in the former category. As of this posting she hasn't responded to my e-mail.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wouldn't it make more sense for the kids involved in the challenge to play privately for the teacher's ear only?. The idea of trial in front of the whole class would really put me, and a lot of kids off. In your circumstances, it does seem rather hard for you to confront the teacher, but perhaps you could have a polite word?. Especially if she continues to ignore your e-mail. I am really surprised to hear that a teacher allowed someone to be laughed at like that. Heartless, IMHO. Good luck, and I hope your daughter doesn't give up because of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I am reading this correctly, you are also a music teacher in the same district in which your daughter attends. Is this correct? This makes things very difficult politically. I have another suggestion. Rather than you dealing with this, have your daughter's father respond to the situation if that is possible. I work in a small district and having the spouse or non-employed parent deal with teachers takes much of the politics out of the situation while still addressing it. I believe that Dad should meet with the teacher in question in person and let the teacher know that this behavior was not acceptable. If the teacher is not responsive, I would recommend that Dad speak to the principal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a music teacher, a Kindergarten teacher...but yes, in the same district, dif. schools. Having my husband go in is a good idea.

My daughter says she is going to re-challenge next week. According to her, the girl ahead of her can't play a note. I just hope 1. what happened last time doesn't affect her too much causing her to do poorly and 2. the same thing doesn't happen again. But I am proud of her for 'getting back on the horse' so to speak.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your poor child! This is case and point why

challenges " are anti -art, anti - educational, and antiquated. The teachers' behavior is unacceptable. I find it to be abusive; pitting kids against one another to keep fake control of the majority is deplorable at best. Public ridicule is not to be tolerated in the classroom.One cannot apply sports-centric "challenges" when children need to open up to new skills and make themselves vulnerable on many levels. This isn't the gridiron, after all. " The best" is subjective, and mob rule is wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think playing in front of your peers is one of the hardest things to do -- especially a whole group of them! If your daughter only played a couple of wrong notes, that's not bad at all. I am neither a classroom teacher, nor in school, and in my school, the orchestra didn't have challenges. I asked my spouse who was in the band in a nationally very highly rated school. Their band teacher reseated everyone (reauditioned) every semester, and they did have challenges, but only the teacher heard them -- not the entire band. I see that as being a problem only if the teacher is showing favoritism, but that's a possibility (my jr. hi. orchestra director certainly did that). To me what was inexcusable in your daughter's case was that the challengee did not have to play. Kids will be kids, and they do inappropriate things (like laughing). The teacher SHOULD let them know that that is unacceptable behavior, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it will stop. Impromptu public auditions for those laughing might indeed get the message through to them. I'm glad your daughter is going to give it another shot -- but remind her going in that whatever happens, it shouldn't affect her future relationship to her instrument. I was last chair in our junior high orchestra and not one of the director's pets, but so far as I know, I am the only one from that string orchestra who went on to become a professional musician.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am always facinated by parents or others response to an event second hand. Since in my speech classroom we tape

a number speeches which are viewed by students and evaluated by them at home. There is always a disconnect between what

we believe happened and what you viewed on the tape. Self measures of events are rarely accurate unless you or I have repeatedly taped, responded, and had others do the same. Our internal reality is not acuurate

for most people. Period. Unless you have had you and whoever was challanged taped with appropriate quality and have a number of people (who have some measured or attributed skill)you are always going to have a distorted inpression

of yourself. Sometimes absolutely inaccurate. What happened in the room? We don't know. Could we have other

ways to evaluate? Of course. Is any measure completely fair? Of course not. What should the young person do.

Quit? Try again even if they laugh? Can you try hard and look silly? Yes. Who decides? The director. If they do

not see you as superior your chair will not change. What impresses them? Can you do it under pressure?

This topic could easily require 20 pages to even begin exploring. Will you fail? Most do who try. How important is

always winning. And on we could go. You could with your child talk with the director. You could send your husband. You could talk to a principal. All will change the dynamics of the present and future situations. Is there a rational reason between public tryouts before the orchestra. Yes. Is it best? Depends on what outcomes the teacher wants. It is not simple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I finally got a response from my daughter's teacher. All she said was that my daughter missed some notes and she stopped the challenge because of the class laughing. (I remember my daughter saying that the teacher looked nervous.) She didn't say why the other girl didn't play nor what disciplinary action she took with the class. Then she ended with saying she would encourage my daughter, blah, blah, blah.

Sort of a wishy-washy response, but at least she DID respond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a middle school band director that had horrible experiences with chair challenges when I was in school. Therefore, I don't do them at all. It was SO BAD that I still can't speak to the girl that was first flute all through school. I hated her. That was twenty years ago!

We rotate parts so everyone gets a chance to play the first part at some point on some song. When someone who has struggled plays well on a first part, even when it's an "easy" first part, we cheer them on! I don't have the "added benefit" of competition but we don't make fun of each other or criticize each other for mistakes either.

I can't believe that the teacher hasn't responded to your email. This just shows that he or she thinks the behavior was normal. This absolutely can't go on. You should definitely say something but make sure it is in front of the building principal. The band director could twist your words or who knows what else. Your concerns, especially since they are being ignored, are valid and deserve the attention of an administrator.

The OTHER teacher let this escalate by ignoring your concerns. Be calm, be positive, but be heard. Lots of kids lose their desire to practice and participate in music due to this kind of criticism and mocking from their peers. Don't let your child be one of them. If you handle if very calmly I see no reason to be concerned for your job. You are a member of the teacher's union though, right???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have great admiration for your daughter for having the guts to stand up to the class once again and issue another challenge. All the best to her.

On another note, MUST there be chair challenges? Shouldn't there be regular auditions to reshuffle and restock the band? The challenge thing sounds like some medieval joust-for-the-hand-of-fair-Meredith sort of affair. If your daughter is not being given the place in the band that she deserves, you could perhaps try speaking to the person in charge of assigning chairs, and if that person is uncooperative, you could give a formal complaint to the principal. In that way, no student would be subject to the highly stressful prospect of having her/his peers laughing at her/him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I'm in the Tchr union and so is she. I really think she just has it in for my daughter. Like I wrote in a previous post-some teachers feel intimidated by other teachers' kids, you know? Anyway, she did respond in a bland kind of way. My daughter said there was another challenge between other kids and no one laughed. The girl who challenged didn't win, but at least everyone played. When my daughter did her challenge it was the first one of the class, so maybe they discussed behavior during challenges. Anyway, life goes on. I'm glad my daughter wants to rechallenge and isn't going to drop the class, but I feel bad for her that she'll always remember this traumatic event.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...