For Students...

Students should come to their lessons with the following materials:

  • Instrument
  • Method Book
  • Ensemble music
  • Practice chart
  • Pencil
  • Supplies (rosin, reeds, valve oil, swabs, etc)

You may get these materials at various local music stores and online. For orchestra materials, Stamell Strings in Amherst is an excellent resource ( For band materials, Gerry’s Music Shop ( visits the schools each week, and if you call them at 413-534-7402, they are able to deliver materials directly to your child’s school. If you wish to visit the store, they are at 80 Lamb Street (route 116) in South Hadley MA.

If you need assistance in providing your child with materials, please contact me as soon as possible; we have a limited number of instruments you can borrow for a $50 yearly maintenance fee.

Method Books

Strings (Grades 3 & 4): Essential Elements Interactive for Strings, book 1, for the child’s instrument

Strings (Grades 5 & 6): Sound Innovations for String Orchestra

Band (Beginning): Essential Elements Interactive, book 1, for the child’s instrument

Band (Advanced): As recommended by the teacher

“I Forgot My Instrument”

It is difficult to teach children how to play their instruments if they don’t have instruments. It is helpful to put the instrument case by the door the night before the lesson day so that it is easier to remember during the morning rush.

If students have forgotten their instrument, they are still responsible for coming to their lesson at the appropriate lesson time to get their assignment for the week. In some cases, we may have an instrument they can borrow, but in all cases it is much better for the student to have their own instrument.

Home Practice

Students need to develop new muscles and muscle memory to be able to play an instrument, and muscles only develop with daily practice. Playing an instrument 1-3 times weekly is not enough for a student to have success on their instrument.We understand that our lives are busy with sports practices and other after school activities, but we must still find time to practice each day.

In lessons, we will assign a practice assignment. Students will play their assignment each day at home working on accuracy of notes, rhythm, and other musical concepts as appropriate. To develop the necessary muscles for playing, they should practice 20 to 30 minutes each day. This is considered homework, and counts towards a grade. You wouldn’t skip your other homework, so please don’t skip your band homework. Learning to make music is worth it.

Band Instrument Repairs

If your instrument needs a repair, please first confer with Mrs. LaFond about the problem (I have a few tricks up my sleeve and can fix some issues), and together we will make a plan for the repair. The local music shop, Gerry's Music Shop, visits each Monday and can pick up instruments for repair, and drop them back off at the school the Monday after it's been fixed. This may take some time. While the instrument is being repaired, your student should still come to lessons to get the assignment and work on learning theory with their lesson group, but I will likely send them back to class after 10-15 minutes.


We grade (taking into account the age and developmental ability of the students) on practice, cooperation, attention, bringing their materials to class, posture and hand position, technique and accuracy, tone, tonguing/bowing, note and rhythm reading skills, and group playing skills. Set your child up for success by having them practice every day, and having their instrument and book with them on lesson day.

Evening Concert Dress

  • White on top (no graphics please)
  • Black on bottom (black jeans are ok, but not blue jeans)
  • Black shoes
  • Remember that concert attire must follow school dress codes

Concert attendance is mandatory. Every member is vital to the success of the group. Mark the concert dates in your calendar, and make plans to be there. Please arrive a half hour before the start of the concert so that our musicians may warm up and tune before the concert begins.

Daytime concerts follow the usual school dress code.

Switching Instruments/Leaving the Program

The first instrument students learn is not always a “good fit.” After giving it a fair chance, practicing and attending lessons for a couple of months, let us know that you are hoping to switch instruments. We can often work out a plan together that works best for the child, allowing them to continue their musical learning. Despite this, not everyone decides to continue playing an instrument. If you and your child decide to leave the program, please provide a parent/guardian signed, written note explaining why your child is choosing to leave program, and have your child give it to the teacher in person.