Frequently Asked Questions:
1. When does the band class meet?
Beginning band meets as a regular class different times throughout the school day for the entire school year. Students are grouped into classes according to what instrument they play. The teacher-pupil ratio is kept low to facilitate individual supervision of students’ progress. 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.
2. What instruments are started?
Beginners are started on flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion.
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. Their progress culminates in a Spring Concert at the end of the year.
4. Can my child be successful even if I don't have musical talent?
Music psychologists have tried for many years to determine whether heredity or environment has the greatest influence on musicality. Interestingly, both sides use the same data to support their arguments. The most important requirement for success is the desire to succeed.
5. Are certain instruments for girls and others for boys?
Definitely NOT! Instrument choices are not based 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 most importantly, their personal choice.
6. When do students need instruments?
Instruments will be needed by the beginning of the second week of school. Instrument lockers are available in the band hall. Please make sure that the case is labeled with your child's name. Don’t wait too long! We will have a Spring Instrument/Supply Drive on May 9th as well as one in August.
7. Should I rent or purchase an instrument?
Renting or "rent to own" 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 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. The music company will have the instrument and mouthpiece that we recommended. The instrument can be returned to the company at any time without further obligation. Depending on the company, rental fees may apply towards the purchase of your very own instrument.
8. What about buying used instruments?
Some used instruments are good bargains. 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 “big box store” or pawn shop instruments to be of inferior quality and tend to need repair more frequently, resulting in more than usual repair shop visits.
Purchasing an instrument through a “rent to own” program is one way to purchase an instrument and these types of programs make it affordable on any budget.
9. Are there any school owned instruments available?
Yes. The school provides the more expensive instruments: tuba, baritone, French horn, oboe, and bassoon. There are a few school owned flutes, clarinets and trombones available. These are assigned on the basis of aptitude, suitability, and availability. In most cases, we will have an instrument available, don't be hesitant to ask.
Parents whose child is selected to play one of these school instruments are required to pay an instrument usage fee, and will still be required to purchase necessary accessories such as a mouthpiece, books, reeds/valve oil. Students on free or reduced lunch may qualify for a discounted rental fee.
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 fourth week of school. After formal instruction is given on the care and assembly of the instrument, your child will begin taking the instrument home. This is to protect your investment!
11. Can my child participate in both athletics and band at the same time? Band and Choir? Band and Art? Band and Theatre Arts? Band and Dance?
In 7th and 8th grade YES, but NOT in 6th grade. Athletics is not offered in the 6th grade (Pre-Athletics is still considered “PE”). There is only ONE elective in 6th grade and students must choose between either Band, Guitar, Choir, Art/Theatre Arts. In 7th & 8th grade, students may take more electives than they can in 6th grade. There are many middle school students who are in band, athletics, and other organizations such as theatre 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. In 7th grade & 8th grade, the school administration, coaches, classroom teachers and band directors work together to try to avoid conflicts in scheduling. We have current Mountain Valley MS Band members who are also in 7th & 8th grade football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer, track, cheerleading, dance team, choir and in school theater productions!
12. Are there any extra rehearsals required? Concerts?
Beginners are required to attend up to four (4) performances their first year: One mini-concert in the fall to demonstrate progress, a December concert, a Spaghetti Dinner Concert in early March, and our May Spring Concert. At most, there will only be two after school rehearsals during the year. Other than these few performances & rehearsals, there are NO after school responsibilities or activities.
13. Will my child be required to practice at home?
Yes. Beginning the fourth week of school, students are required to practice 15-20 minutes every day outside of class. For home practice, students are recommended to purchase a folding music stand and metronome (electronic time-keeper). 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.
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 7th & 8th grade bands, 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.
Please let us know if you have any further questions!