Book cover for Growing Your Musician In Growing Your Musician, band director Tony Bancroft attempts to help parents make the right decisions when allowing their son or daughter to take up a band or orchestra instrument.  The book, published by Rowman & Littlefield in conjunction with MENC, is 147 pages of information aimed primarily at mothers and fathers that don't know anything about playing an instrument but want to give their child the best possible start.  The information found in Growing Your Musician is pretty old hat for experienced band directors, but even those who have been teaching for decades may find some great new ideas within its pages.

What Instrument Should My Band Student Play?
At first glance, the book seems to border on overkill.  After all, Growing Your Musician is 147 pages on a subject that most parents give much thought to.  Most parents tend to simply ask their child what they want to play and then go out and buy that instrument without any thought or consultation with the local school's band director.  In truth, the selection of a musical instrument should be a very carefully thought out process to give the student the best possible chance at success.  This book describes and delineates that process very clearly, and revisits the most important issues several times throughout.  Especially significant is the chapter titled "Tools For Selecting Your Perfect Instrument."  The chapter contains a series of guides, worksheets, and other tools to help a parent make the right decision based on many important, yet often overlooked, factors.  Once you have decided what instrument to play, the book continues to explain and detail the various ways to purchase or rent an instrument, taking the ambiguity out of the entire process at your local music store.

The Adventure Begins:  Learning To Play Your New Instrument:
The second part of Growing Your Musician focuses on helping the student become a better musician as fast and with as much fun as possible.  Specific chapters detail how to practice and get the most out of it.  Sample practice plans are given that are similar to what most band director's would agree is the proper way to conduct a practice session at home.  Checklists and other tools are given to help students organize and think critically about their music to help them improve more quickly.  In the third section of the book, "Secrets of the Pros," Bancroft goes on to talk about more advanced concepts such as musicality, tone quality, and long term musicianship.  The appendixes also include additional information about each instrument, their history, and important facts.

Growing Your Musician...  With Help From Your Local Band Director
In the process of presenting all of this information Bancroft does an excellent job of reiterating the fact that no child can really learn to play an instrument without a dedicated, resourceful music teacher to guide them.  His commentary points this fact out in many ways, drawing on personal and general band room examples that are interesting to read and reflect on.  While the information in this book may be old news to most band directors, it is quite obvious that this would be an excellent book to read or pass on to any parent that is considering allowing their child to join the school band or orchestra.

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