It's time for school again, and for fifth graders, there is a new opportunity in the music department - BAND! Students in fifth grade get the opportunity to start learning a band instrument, and I'd love for as many fifth graders as possible to give this a try!
As you may have already discovered, my goal as a music teacher is to give kids many different musical experiences so that they can find the aspect of music that connects with them. I think that learning instruments is something that is beneficial to ALL kids, and I highly encourage kids to learn several instruments as they get the opportunity. I have talked, and will continue to talk, in other blog posts about the many reasons why this is important, but for this one, I'd like to explain how things work here at WLM, and especially for fifth graders and their parents, how this will affect them.
In music class we've been singing and playing instruments since kindergarten. We've used many percussion instruments. In third grade we started using recorders as our first wind instrument. In fifth and sixth grade, we transition from "kids" instruments to "adult" instruments.
I recommend that students choose one of 5 of the basic band instruments, and in fifth grade we start lessons on these - TROMBONE, TRUMPET, ALTO SAXOPHONE, FLUTE, and CLARINET. While there are other instruments in the band and orchestra available as students get older, these 5 instruments, while common in many types of music, are also a good starting place to move into other more advanced instruments such as oboe, french horn, tuba, euphonium, and many others.
Many students ask about percussion, guitar, and piano as instruments they are interested in, and I love all three of those instruments! We do what we can to encourage and teach all 3 of these instruments, but they are all very different from wind instruments, and the fundamentals of how to play them don't work to include them in beginning band. However, all students will be learning more advanced percussion technique in music class (building off of what we've done in younger grades), and getting to perform on different percussion instruments. Some of these students will have an opportunity to play some percussion in band (in addition to their wind instrument, if they choose). We offer a GUITAR CLUB to anyone who is interested and has a guitar - I'll be sending home more information in the next few weeks about this group starting up. Unfortunately, I don't have a piano lab, so I can't offer a piano club, but several students take piano lessons (there are several teachers in town, and I'd be glad to offer you some names if you are interested!), and we give these students opportunities to perform in our recital in March, as well as accompanying the chorus when they are able.
I know students who have started out playing trumpet, and sticking with that as a hobby and creative outlet their entire lives! I also know students who started on alto saxophone, and ended up playing percussion as their "band instrument" in high school, but were still able to utilize the musical skills they learned on saxophone to make them a better musician. This is why I recommend that all students TRY one of the basic 5 instruments (trombone, trumpet, alto saxophone, clarinet, flute). If you purchase a good quality (new or used) instrument, the instrument will last a lifetime, literally. Robert M. Sides has good quality instruments and several different payment options which they will explain to you when they are here, but there are other places to purchase instruments. Just be careful when purchasing online or from something other than a music store - sometimes when a deal seems too good to be true, it is! There are many "off-brand" instruments that are very cheap, but don't work properly, will be impossible to repair, and will result in student frustration. Getting a good instrument is worth it!
Finally, if a student really wants to play an instrument, but money inhibits an instrument purchase, please talk to me! There are occasionally instruments donated to the school, and we can sometimes help with scholarship instruments to use.
If you have any further questions about band at WLM, don't hesitate to ask! I hope to see you at the meeting on August 29th, but I'm also in the lobby every morning from 8-8:20, and you can reach me anytime via email at firstname.lastname@example.org