JOINING BAND

Dear Beginning Band Families,

Congratulations on your child's decision to play a musical instrument! Studies have repeatedly shown that there is no activity that does more to cultivate and predict academic success than participation in school music programs throughout elementary, middle, and high school. 

 

Music is the practical application of many of the concepts learned in the classes your child will take during his or her entire academic career.

For more information about the importance of music education, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When do band classes meet?

While we still don't know what the 2020-2021 school year will look like, during the 2019-2020 school year, beginning band met Tuesday - Friday from 9:00-9:40 am.  Some days will be only woodwinds, some days will be only brass, and other days will be full band.  Details will be distributed at the beginning of each school year.

Which band book should I buy my child?

We use the Essential Elements 2000 band method by Lautzenheiser, Higgins, et. al.  The cost of the book is around $10.00. They can be purchased at Fawley's in Sabraton, West Virginia Music Center in Suncrest, or online.

How often should my child practice?

Students should practice a minimum of 30 minutes a week OUTSIDE of band class time.  Students who do not practice often fall behind, and are more likely to drop out of band. Oftentimes, the simple act of getting the instrument out of the case for a few minutes leads the development of good practice habits. It doesn't take hours a day, just the desire to WANT to get a little better each day.

Will my child be able to do band and athletics?

Absolutely! In the 2019-2020 school year, the UHS Band program had representatives of several sports, including: football, soccer, baseball, track and cross-country, swim, tennis, cheerleading, lacrosse, and more!

What Students Say...

"One of my favorite parts of our band is the diversity in our program and how many options there are for the students. I have gotten the privilege to play in the UHS Symphonic Winds as a state honor group, as well as this year in our Symphony Orchestra. I am also in our Jazz Ensemble.

I also play varsity baseball at UHS and the experience with working both into my schedule has been pretty flawless...There are bound to be conflicts but there is always a way to work around these obstacles and show expertise in both."

- Logan, 11th Grade | Trumpet

INSTRUMENT SELECTION GUIDE

We typically have students select instruments at the end of their fourth grade year so that we can start beginning band classes as soon as the following school year begins.

Obviously, this timeline was impossible with the closing of school buildings at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, so we will be conducting instrument selection meetings differently this coming school year; both in terms of the when and the how.

Stay tuned, as more information will follow. In the meantime, here is some important information about beginning band instruments so students can get a head start in making their instrument choice.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We do not start students on percussion in 5th grade. Students may audition for percussion spots when they get to sixth grade. We HIGHLY recommend that anyone wishing to audition for percussion play a wind instrument in 5th grade and/or get private percussion instruction.

Flute:

The flute is the highest pitched instrument in the beginning band.  The flute is played by blowing across an opening in one end while the fingers press keys to change notes.  With its clear, penetrating sound, the flute often plays the melody in the band.

Flute player ideal physical characteristics:

  • Agile fingers

  • Natural "frown" shape to the upper lip

  • Even upper and lower jaw

Saxophone:

Saxophone player ideal physical characteristics:

  • Ability to sit up straight and tall

  • Agile hands and fingers

Saxophones are woodwind instruments -  even though they are made of brass.  Most people know the saxophone from jazz or pop music.  This instrument is versatile and is also used in the concert band.  While students will start on the alto saxophone, some sax players will also have the opportunity to play tenor or baritone saxophones in middle/high school!

Clarinet:

The clarinet is a popular choice for Beginning Band.  The sound is a large, beautiful woody texture with an extensive range.  The mouthpiece and single-reed produce the sound if the clarinet.

Clarinet player ideal physical characteristics:

  • Ability to flatten chin

  • Non-rounded bottom teeth

Trumpet:

The trumpet is the highest pitched instrument of the brass family.  It is recognized by its bright and clear sound.  The trumpet is frequently used to play melody.  Like some of the other instruments in the band, the trumpet is also used in jazz and pop music.  Similar to most brass instruments, the trumpet has three valves and is played by vibrating one's lips on a mouthpiece.

Trumpet player ideal physical characteristics:

  • Thin and even lips

  • Slight over bite is okay

Trombone:

The trombone, easily recognized by its long slide, is one of the most powerful instruments in the band.  The slide is not marked with positions, so having a good ear is a must.  Playing primarily in the lower range of the band, the trombone is used both as a melodic and a supporting instrument.  Trombones are used in virtually every type of music, including jazz, blues, pop, and symphony orchestra.

Trombone player ideal physical characteristics:

  • Great ear - singing experience is helpful

  • Medium to long arms

  • Medium to full lips

ACQUIRING AN INSTRUMENT

There are many ways to get an instrument.  It is HIGHLY recommended that families avoid the temptation to purchase the newest CHEAP instruments found online and at various retailers.  These instruments may look great, but are often cheaply made and are very costly to repair.  

 

Repairs to instruments played by beginning band students tend to be a matter of "when," not a matter of "if."

We recommend the local music stores listed below for instrument rental or purchase.  Rent-to-own programs give parents instrument options without the commitment of buying - just in case the student decides not to continue in band.

Most smaller, local music stores carry a full line of high-quality instruments, many have repair shops in-house, and students can usually trade instruments at little or not additional cost.  Repairs are generally covered in the rental agreement.

While you can certainly acquire an instrument in other ways, it is important to remember that one of the biggest factors in whether a student will have success in band is the quality of the instrument they are playing.

Fawley Music Company

1804 Earl L. Core Rd.

Morgantown, WV 26505

(304) 292-3351
 

West Virginia Music Center

1195 Pineview Dr.

Morgantown, WV 26505

(304) 241-5309
 

Additional questions about beginning band can be directed to Mr. Palmer at (304) 291-9275 or mpalmer@k12.wv.us

 

Click here for the 'Beginning Band' page.

Credit for Resources: Killian Band Program, Lewisville, TX.

131 Bakers Ridge Road
Morgantown, WV 26508

(304) 291-9275

mpalmer@k12.wv.us

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