What Does a Band Director Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A band director develops and maintains a music program at a school or college. This includes providing musical instruction, managing budgets, and working with departments that may need the band for events like graduations or sports competitions. A band director will usually need a degree in music or a related field along with experience in teaching and managing bands. Those with awards from competitions and other events may be considered preferentially in the job application process. Band directors may find employment at elementary, middle, or high schools as well as at colleges or universities.

A band director may help students learn how to play instruments, such as a snare drum.
A band director may help students learn how to play instruments, such as a snare drum.

One part of the job includes organizing a band program. This includes raising and managing funds, tracking inventory, and determining what kinds of classes to offer. A large school may have several bands, like a marching band and a jazz band, all of which need support. Band directors may consider ways they can grow their programs in order to offer more options over time.

Participation in competition can be an aspect of a band program. Individual band members as well as whole bands compete for recognition and funds at a variety of levels. Supporting this can be an important part of the work. The band director also needs to be prepared to travel with sports teams in some cases, and to perform at home sporting events. Coordinating the band schedule can become challenging with multiple bands needing instruction and facilities while balancing teams and departments competing for their services.

Teaching, as well as supervising instruction, can be another aspect of the job for a band director. This includes musical instruction and conducting for individual bands in addition to hiring other teachers and staff. These staff may handle individual bands as well as private lessons, and can participate in other music education at the institution. Staffing and personnel needs can become complex at a large school and require solid communication skills, a sense of diplomacy, and the ability to stay organized under pressure.

Working conditions for a band director can include travel, long hours, and exposure to harsh weather conditions. Bands may compete and appear at events in extreme heat or cold, with issues like ice and heavy rain that can complicate organizing even further. In addition to handling the educational needs of band members, the director may also need to think about personal issues like chronic health conditions, emotional distress, and conflict between band members. Sensitivity and approachability can be useful personality traits for someone in a band director position.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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