LMS Band

La Grande Middle School Band

This is a page dedicated to helping the middle school band parent navigate this new medium: Instrumental Music!

COVID-19 Considerations
Yes! Your student can still learn to play an instrument if they are a 6th grader just starting on their journey with band. We will be implementing some of the following strategies to make this work for students. These also apply to 7th, and 8th graders as well as my high school students.
1. Group lessons
2. Playing tests 
3. Theory assignments 
4. Virtual performances etc.

Playing an instrument well takes dedication and time! However it is completely possible to learn and improve through a distance learning or hybrid model.

At La Grande Middle School, students have the opportunity to perform instrumental music in Beginning Band (6th Grade), Intermediate Band (7th Grade) and Advanced Band (8th Grade). While students of varying abilities can be in the class that corresponds to their grade level, we find that students progress faster if they take the class that matches their skill level. 

Each class follows a few simple classroom rules that govern rehearsals and prepare students for higher levels of musical performance by creating and developing proper musical habits. These classroom expectations are as follows:

1. Be Respectful 

2. Be Responsible

3. Make Mistakes

Wait, that's it?!? Yeah, because if you follow those three rules, you follow all the expectations for productive rehearsals. 
  • Come prepared to play, and to learn (Responsible)  
  • Bring your music, instrument, pencil and everything you need to use those items each day! (reeds, oils, folders, supplies, etc.)
  • Be on time (Responsible). 
  • Don't waste your rehearsal time with non-relevant chatter (Both).
  • Every person has value and should be treated as such (Respectful). 
  • Their ideas, their values, their image, their possessions should be respected. - Don't take what isn't yours, treat others the way you want to be treated, leave things better than you found them, (this includes people!).
  • Mistakes are the greatest learning tool you have, make them often, but never the same one twice. "Always make new mistakes!"
At The Beginning Level
Students aren't sure what instrument will work best for their bodies. Some students have short arms that would make playing the trombone difficult. Notice, not impossible! Any instrument can be attempted by any student, but some will work better than others. A student who doesn't have an overbite will struggle with clarinet, and a student whose lips form a "Cupid's Bow" will have a really tough time playing the flute. These are just a few examples. 

When beginning band students at the 6th or 7th grade level enter my classroom we begin with a week long instrumental workshop. In this workshop students are given the opportunity to play each of the 8-14 instruments offered at their grade level. Those instruments available to 6th grade students include:

Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, and Tuba. 

For 7th grade additional instruments are added to this list including:

Tenor and Baritone Saxophones, Oboe, Bassoon, Bass Clarinet and Percussion (see below).

Instrument Selections
Once a student has decided on an instrument, the next step is to decide who will provide the instrument. Students who own their own instrument are more likely to take better care of the instrument, are more engaged in the class, and tend to stick with music longer than those who use school instruments. They also get to play what they want.

Students who choose to rent a school instrument are subject to a lottery. This is due to the fact that we just don't have enough of each instrument to fill each need. Students will pick their "top 3" at the end of our week long instrumental workshop. I then put all names in a hat and draw them randomly. I assign the first choice instrument to each student until I run out of available instruments. Then I begin filling the second choice. Again, the only way for your child to get to play the instrument they want, for sure, is to buy or rent it from an outside source. 

This is a "new" option for 7th and 8th grade students. I limit the number of percussionists to 3, or 10% of the class size. Students interested in percussion will take a percussion aptitude test that includes musical questions, theory, note reading and playing. It will rank students and assess their skills. The top 3 students will be given the option to become percussionists. Students who don't make it may be given additional opportunities to play a percussion part when needed, and can retest the following year should a percussionist quit or move. 

Percussion is not Drum-set. It is so much more! It requires a student to learn not one instrument but dozens! Each with their own technique, posture, form, and method of sound production. Percussion includes things like: 

Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Timpani, Cymbals, Mallet Percussion like Xylophones, Bells, and Chimes, Auxiliary Percussion like the Tambourine, Triangle, Wind Chimes, Wood Block, Sleigh Bells and much more. 

Because of the high replacement cost, ease of theft, and delicate nature of many of our percussion instruments only the students of the highest character and discipline will be considered. If you are a parent of an aspiring musician who has an interest in becoming a percussionist get them into lessons now, preferably piano lessons. This will help as percussionists are expected to read mallet music as part of their test. 

Class Expectations No. 1 >

As classes get under way, I'm including a small note of expectations of students in the LMS program. 
  • Each student needs a care kit for their instrument, during the first month of school they will be shown how to use this care kit to keep the instrument they use in good working order. 
  • If the student plays a reed instrument (Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe, or Bassoon) They must have a minimum of three working reeds in their case at all times. This eliminates lost class-time when students ask for reeds in the middle of rehearsal, and those scary moments just before a concert when that last reed breaks.
  • Each student must have a pencil.
Class Expectations

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