Beginning Band

Class-specific information will be posted here.

December Newsletter - Emailed on 12/14

A reminder for belt testing - all students are expected to have their orange belts before winter break. Please check the first page of your child's belt testing packet to see their progress (or you can look at the pieces of yarn tied to their cases). Several students are still stuck on their white and yellow belts and I have offered to help them individually during recess or before/after school - make sure your child knows they need to get extra help if they are struggling on their white or yellow belts and they need to be practicing at home! I have also included some tips for individual instruments at the bottom of this email. The next goal is to have their blue belts by the end of the 2nd trimester (3rd week of Februrary). Students belt progress will factor directly into their second trimester report card grades.

School-Owned Instruments - Unfortunately, the process for renting school instruments was not done correctly by my first sub, so I am trying to tie up loose ends now, and this is very important! If your child has a school-owned instrument (Mr. Hinman or Mr. Miller provided it; not one that was rented from Golden/Music & Arts at Summit or the store), I should have given them a Jeffco Rental Contract this week. If your child doesn't have one, please let me know and I can email it to you. Please return those contracts to me before winter break!

I am also sad to say that I do not know where two of the school trumpets ended up. If your child has a school trumpet with the serial number GE920348 (Conn brand) or 197714 (York brand), could you please let me know ASAP?

Over Winter Break, students are encouraged to play a small concert for their families with the holiday music we have been working on in class. #27 and all of the songs on pages 12 and 13 of their books are related to this holiday season! Have them show you their progress by playing one or several of these songs for your family! If your students want to learn other holiday/Christmas songs, type "free sheet music (instrument) (name of song)" into Google and it will likely come up. Students are expected to continue practicing over break! If they choose not to, they will likely be frustrated because they forgot skills when we return in January.

Specific Instrument Tips:
Flute: Most flute players at this point are behind on their tests, likely due to not practicing enough. Flute is a challenging instrument, but not something that can't be conquered with some diligent practice time. Working on the headjoint alone to get a good sound is a great way to start off a practice session. Then, add the rest of the flute and work on the first five notes on Worksheet #2. The fingering exercise above the "Mini-scale" helps them to switch notes faster. I also encourage students to watch this YouTube video and play along to practice their first five notes: Please have your student come in for extra help if they are getting frustrated!
Clarinet and Saxophone: Most clarinet and saxophone students are right on track since these are simpler instruments to start on. Please contact me with any individual concerns for your student.
French Horn: This is also a fairly difficult instrument to get the correct notes with their lips. Have your child practice with the BandMate app to make sure they are getting the correct notes. Practicing daily will help to strengthen their lip muscles to be able to hit the higher notes. Singing their notes will also help them to develop a better ear.
Trumpet, Trombone, and Baritone: The toughest thing about these instruments is getting the low and high notes to come out correctly. These instruments take a LOT of air and different buzzing speeds to get the low and high notes. The "lip slur" exercise on Worksheet #2 is a great way for them to practice getting the correct notes. The app BandMate will tell your child if they are getting the correct note, which is super useful!
Other instruments: Please contact me with individual questions about anything else!

Please help your child practice every day as that will help with their progress levels. Most of what makes band "fun" is the rewarding feeling they get when they can play something correctly, which happens much less when students don't practice. We don't have another concert until the end of April, but we still need to continue improving!

Contact me with any questions or concerns. Have a great holiday season, a Happy New Year, and a fun time listening to your student play some holiday music over break!


Brass players - having trouble reaching your high notes? Use this guide to practice:

1. Make sure your lips are tucked under so only a little bit of the pink should be visible and they shouldn't be folded over themselves. Check it out in the mirror when you playing. I would suggest to start each practice section just trying to make as high sounding of a buzz as you can on your mouthpiece alone.

2. The next thing that will help is practicing long tones, which will help to strengthen your lip muscles. Use the "Bandmate" app (it's free!), which will tell you what note you are playing so you can make sure you are getting the right ones. Start on the first note of your mini-scale, then play each note going up for as long as you can on each note, making sure the pitch doesn't change. So, hold C (trumpets) or Bb (low brass) for as long as you can, pause, then hold D or C as long as you can, etc. If you can do this, and start holding the high G or F as long as you can, that will help you not only hear the right pitches but also build your lip strength.

3. The last thing is to practice the songs we're working on in class using Bandmate and making sure you are trying to get the right notes every time.


Belt Test Performances


Students are expected to play their performances for belt tests in front of the class. However, especially in larger classes, we could easily spend all of our time doing belt tests and not learning anything new. The options on this sheet will help to prevent this.


We will be spending about 15 minutes each week doing belt tests, which is probably not enough time to listen to everyone. Students can also arrange a time to do their test during recess or before/after school if they wish to play it for me in person. If they find that there is not enough time to do their test when they are ready, they can also submit a video to me online. Here are the four options for students to complete their test:


Option 1: In Class

Students should have practiced their test at home so that they can successfully complete it quickly in class. If the student is not prepared, they will be able to try again next class, but not again in the same class.


Option 2: Recess/Before/After School

Students can make an appointment to come in during recess or before/after school. This is also good option for students who want immediate feedback from Mrs. Welch but might be nervous to play in front of their peers. The student/parent will need to talk to Mrs. Welch or send an email to to set up an appointment.


Option 3: Email a Video

Students can email a video directly to Mrs. Welch at The video should clearly show the student’s face, hands, and instrument while playing the required song. The video will need to be small enough to send through email, so turn off HD and keep the video as short as possible. I believe the size limit is only 2 MB. If you take a video and it won’t send, you can also save it as a private video on YouTube or Google and email me the link.


Option 4: Google Classroom

The easiest way to submit videos online is through Google Classroom, since there is no size limit. To join my Google Classroom and submit a video:

1. Go to

2. Sign in with your student account

3. Click the plus sign at the top of the page and click “join class”

4. Type in the following code*:

Beginning Band: cwn9v56

Beginning Orchestra: 6bvfkf

*If the code does not work, please send Mrs. Welch an email and she will invite you to the class.

5. Once on the class page, click on the assignment/belt test you wish to complete

6. Take a video on your device or computer of the student showing their face, hands, and instrument while playing the required song

7. Attach the video by clicking the arrow next to “Add,” select the video file, then click “add”

8. Click “Turn In” and confirm.


Please remember, students are not required to submit videos and will have some time in class to complete tests. Submitting videos will help to make sure that all students have the chance to complete the tests they are ready for. Please email any questions to Mrs. Welch at

Tools to help with reading music:
If your student is feeling like class is too hard, the first step is to make sure that they are practicing at home. Several students need some extra time with learning to read music as well. For that, I would suggest making or printing out some flashcards and have them write the note names/fingerings on the back. Here are some free printable pdfs:
Treble Clef (violin, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, horn, percussion):
Bass Clef (trombone, baritone, cello, bass):
There is also a cool game they can use to practice note naming called Staff Wars, which can be downloaded as an App for iPhone and Android, or downloaded for your computer here:

If students are practicing but need a little extra help, I would be happy to meet them outside of class time (during recess or before/after school) to give them some extra help and confidence.
Carrie Welch,
Apr 5, 2018, 8:22 AM
Carrie Welch,
Nov 3, 2017, 1:15 PM
Carrie Welch,
Apr 18, 2018, 1:31 PM