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Join Band

5th Grade Parent Information

HOW TO JOIN BAND – DIRECTOR: MICHAEL COTTEN

Questions? Email Mr. Cotten – michael.cotten@hectorschools.net

  1. Decide if Band is right for you.
  2. Select Band as your #1 elective choice on your schedule sheet.
  3. Use the Instrument Selection Guide to choose 3 instruments you would like to try-out on. Keep an open mind about all of the instruments because they are all fun to play. The directors will help you pick the one that is just right for you.
  4. Be on the look-out for information about when the instrument try-outs will take place. Information will be giving out about instruments try-outs on the first day of 6th grade band.

You’ll be fitted on all the instruments that night but will be given one instrument according to our selection criteria. This is a tried process and we will get you on an instrument you want to play and will be successful on.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding beginner band:

HERE ARE THE ANSWERS TO THE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BEGINNER BAND.

1. When does the band class meet?
Beginning band meets as a regular class throughout the school day for the entire school year. Students are grouped into classes according to what instrument they play. Skills develop slowly at first, therefore, students and parents must be patient and committed for the entire school year in order to get the full benefit of band instruction. Skills developed during beginner band are to prepare students for 7th and 8th grade, so it’s important they commit to get the best results.

2. What instruments are started?
Beginners are started on flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, and percussion. We will help you choose the instrument that is best for you at our instrument selection interviews in the spring semester, once you’ve signed up for band.

3. Is any previous musical training necessary?
No. The method books used in beginner band are for the musically untrained student. We teach the fundamentals of reading music as well as the fundamentals of playing an instrument. As students progress, you will be able to recognize familiar tunes (by the time of our Winter Concert, you should be very impressed!). Their progress culminates in the Spring Concert at the end of the year.

4. Can my child be successful even if I don’t have musical talent?
Yes! The most important requirement for success is the desire to succeed. We begin students from a very basic yet detailed approach to learning the instrument. Students are taught basic fundamental building blocks that will make them successful throughout their senior year in the Hector Band and beyond!

5. Are certain instruments for girls and others for boys?
Definitely NOT! Instrument choices are not on a student’s gender, but rather their desire to play that instrument. Instrument selection is based primarily upon the facial characteristics of the student and other physical characteristics that make a certain instrument a better “fit”. trust your band director.

6. When do students need instruments?
Instruments will be needed by the third week of school. Storage for all instruments is provided in the band room. Please make sure that the case is labeled with your child’s name. We will have a music company attend our instrument selection meeting for you to reserve an instrument for the fall. Follow our instructions and you’ll be in great shape.

7. Should I rent or purchase an instrument?
RENT! Renting an instrument will give your child the opportunity to begin in band with only a small initial investment. Your child can have the advantages of a brand new beginner model instrument, such as pride of ownership, freedom from error due to poor equipment, and the opportunity to be the best player they can be by having the best available instrument for their age level. Your child will have the instrument and mouthpiece recommended by the band directors. After their beginner year, most instruments required an upgrade into a professional model.

The instrument can be returned to the company at any time without further obligation. All rental payments are applied towards the purchase of the instrument and if your student switches instruments during the school year, all money is applied towards the new instrument.

8. What about buying used instruments?
Some used instruments are good bargains. However, you could possibly end up spending more money on repairs than the instrument is worth. For this reason, we ask that if you do purchase a used instrument, try to let a the Band Director examine it prior to purchase. Local music stores and former band students are excellent sources of used instruments. You might see if the music companies have used instruments available. We have found most pawnshop instruments to be of dubious quality. WARNING: Please do not purchase a musical instrument from a department store. These instruments, in our opinion, are poorly made, with inferior materials that once broken, are not usually repairable. Again, we recommend that you RENT an instrument the first year from a reputable music company. We INSIST on every student having the recommended mouthpiece so that no student has a competitive advantage over another and so all students sound the same.

9. Are there any school owned instruments available?
Yes. The school provides the more expensive instruments: tuba, trombone, euphonium, French horn, oboe, and bassoon. These are assigned on the basis of aptitude, suitability, and availability. We also have a supply of flutes, clarinets, saxophones, and trumpets.

10. Can my child start playing as soon as he/she gets an instrument?
In order to prevent costly repairs and the formation of bad habits, we prefer that the instrument stay in the case during the summer. Instruments will stay in the storage room of the band hall during the first week of school. After formal instruction is given on the care and assembly of the instrument during the first week of school, your child will begin taking the instrument home. This is to protect your investment! When you rent/purchase from a music company, the store will deliver the instrument and materials to our band room before the first day of school. An additional option for eager students is to start band this SUMMER with a Private Lesson teacher. This is a chance to get one-on-one help and be set-up for success with one of the professional musicians who teach on our campus each week. The teachers understand that some lessons might have to be rescheduled due to family vacations.

11. Can my child participate in both athletics and band at the same time? Band and Choir?
YES! If it fits on your schedule, we make it work with ease. There are many middle school students who are in band, athletics, and other organizations such as arts choir, etc. Because of the unique nature of playing a musical instrument, we try to encourage students to begin band in 6th grade and then take other electives along with band in their 7th & 8th grade years. If you want your child to learn a band instrument, you will need to put band as your FIRST CHOICE for an elective. In 7th grade & 8th grade, the school administration, coaches, classroom teachers and band directors work together to try to avoid conflicts in scheduling.

12. Are there any extra rehearsals required? Concerts?
Beginners are required to attend only three (3) performances their first year: The Winter Concert in December, Assessment in late March/Early April, and our Spring Concert in Early May. There will only be one after school rehearsal prior to the Winter Conert and assessment. Other than these few performances & rehearsals, there are NO after school responsibilities or activities. We also have a few fun/social events throughout the year.

13. Will my child be required to practice at home?
Yes. Students are required as a part of their grade to practice 100 minutes a week outside of class, that’s 15 – 20 minutes, 5 – 6 days a week. We offer an after school program for students who can’t practice at home along with practice time during the morning, lunch, and end of school day. As with all things, communication is key if your student has a “busy week”. We don’t want anyone to worry or get stressed out, but there is homework in every class, including band (it’s just more FUN to do band homework!). They record their time on a “Practice Report”, which is turned in and graded weekly. For home practice, it’s helpful to purchase a folding music stand and purchase a metronome/tuner (this can be downloaded on a smartphone as well for free or a small cost). We have found that these items are important in carrying the classroom experiences over to home practice. Parents are encouraged to give positive support to the student as he/she progresses. All instruments are required to be taken home every day even if they cannot practice that evening.

14. Do the grades my child receives in other classes effect participation in band?
Although your band directors stress academic success in all subjects, grades do not effect participation in beginner band. When going on to the high school band, students will be competing in both individual and group competitions. Students are required by state law to be passing in all subjects before being allowed to compete. (House Bill 72 – “No Pass, No Play”). Grades do not, however, effect the daily participation and membership in band, or participation in the concerts. It only effects competitions.

15. Are private lessons available? Are they required?
Private lessons are strongly encouraged for all students, but are not required. If your child takes private lessons, he/she will receive one-on-one instruction from a professional musician/educator (many of which have graduate degrees). Private lessons help challenge faster-paced students and strengthen slower paced students. Again, they are not required, but above average results are almost guaranteed! It is better to RENT a less expensive instrument and participate in the private lessons program than to purchase a top line instrument and not take lessons! Lessons are important and are the back-bone of any band program.

16. What other costs can we expect throughout the year?
Students will be required to purchase their band books and proper accessories to maintain their instrument. Private lessons are strongly recommended. Information will be sent home regarding the price of private lessons. Lessons are not required but are extremely helpful to all students. We ask that all student participate in band fundraisers since the cost of many paper, music, supplies, clinicians, master classes, etc. come out of our yearly budget that we must raise funds for.

17. Why do some instruments have enrollment?
Some of our instruments limited enrollment due to the availability of school owned instruments. If we only own 4 tubas, we can only start 4 tubas. We also have to limit enrollment in order to fill out normal band instrumentation. Each grade level needs proper instrumentation (correct number of instruments) to play the level of literature that our performing bands play. We also need to consistently send every instrument to the high school band for their success. Band is like a recipe. For example: It takes several ingredients to bake a cake. In order to build strong band instrumentation the ingredients are flutes, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones, French horns, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, and percussion. The more students that join, the band will increase the number of instruments offered in each section. Instrumentation is all based on percentages. In order for a band to be successful all instruments are needed and that instrumentation must remain solid from 6th beginning band, through middle school, and up to high school.