Maintaining an Orchestra
  1. Keep track of your Inventory
    Aside from schools checking on your inventory once or twice a year, you want to be sure your instruments don't grow legs. Have a method of keeping track of your inventory, whether through Excel spreadsheet, Google docs or sheets, Charms or other third party database, or otherwise.
  2. Stock a couple extra strings
    Some teachers choose not to do this but it's definitely easier to get a student back to playing than to wait weeks for them to get another string for the one that popped. Keep some emergency strings on hand--a few per instrument type and size. They don't have to be the best, but they'll keep your classroom rolling.
  3. Organize your music library
    Similar to your inventory tracking system, you'll want to keep record of your music library. Title, Composer, Arranger, Grade, and whatever other information you may find helpful, like genre, instrumentation, or your own comments and notes.
  4. Keep your supplies & accessories organized
    Plus, get a sharpie and write on those rock stops with your school name. Same for your spare shoulder rests. If the name isn't on it, they will walk off (even with the name, they still might... kids). Then have an area where you keep these accessories so the students who borrow know where to return them.
  5. Decide on a strategy for teaching technique
    While there's a substantial amount of "on the fly" that goes with surviving your first year in a new content area for things you couldn't anticipate, do your best to prioritize the thing that really matters: teaching. Foundation and technique, if nothing else, are the most helpful base for achieving lofty goals in the future.
  6. Teach to your students
    Comparing to standards and other programs helps us get a "status check" for where we are, but don't skip important basics to try to keep up with the Smiths. Have patience and trust your wisdom to teach YOUR students quality material that helps THEM succeed long term.
  7. Communicate!!!
    It's easy to let communication fall to the wayside when you're overwhelmed with everything you have to do, but when you keep in touch and keep an open line of communication, the parents are willing to help out and work with you, making your job much more manageable.
  8. Learn what you can DIY (and what you can't)
    Instrument maintenance sometimes means fixing little things yourself, and sometimes means taking instruments in to the shop. Learn some small repairs to save yourself and your program some cash by attending choice conference sessions or by watching some of the videos in the gallery below.