If you are interested in participating in Beginner Band at Wester Middle School and have not yet tried an instrument, please contact Mr. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment. _____________________________________________________________
We are so excited to meet you and can’t wait for you to be in our program this year!!
In February, we begin the process of introducing new musicians to our band program. This is an important decision for you and your child because Band is much more than learning to play an instrument. Band is also the development of a family of friends that lasts a lifetime and the establishment of huge physical and mental influences which will determine much of your child’s success in all aspects of education, not just music.
It is a fact that music students represent the top of the academic scale in our schools. We know they are averaging 89 points higher on SAT exams. We also know that the Fine Arts students are many of the ones who enjoy a very successful high school career academically as well as in athletics and other activities. For parents of college bound students, it is very important to consider the follows facts:
- Majority of admission directors consider class rank. Band students tend to place very highly in class ranking and have a high percentage of earning Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors.
- Admission standards are heavily based on SAT score. Band students consistently score in the highest percentiles on the SAT exam.
- Admission directors consider the participation of the student in band and other fine art classes. 60% of all college freshman drop out after the first year. In contrast, 96% of past band students graduate earn diplomas from higher level institutions, many graduating with university honors. We reinforce the values of commitment and dedication daily.
It is very important to take advantage of band class during the 6th grade year. If you wait until 7th grade, your child will be in a class of students a year younger and will have a more difficult time catching up to their level. We move very quickly here at Wester, and you will be amazed at the level of musicianship at the end of the 6th grade year.
Instrument Selection Guide
The flute is the smallest of the beginner instruments. It is a very popular selection each year, but only a small portion of those wishing to play flute will be selected.
Flute players should have a slight “frown” to the upper lip with NO tear drop shape in the middle. Flute tones are produced by being able to focus an extremely small airstream to an exact location on the tone hole. The tear-drop-shaped lip will make it difficult to direct the air so precisely. Flute players should also have agile fingers for moving this multi-keyed instrument through a fast musical passage. Students with extreme overbites (receded jaw) should avoid choosing flute as this makes it difficult to produce
Students with double-jointed fingers should avoid selecting flute as double-jointedness can cause lack of agility in the fingers.
The oboe is similar in its appearance to a clarinet, but it is played using a “double reed” instead of a single reed and mouthpiece. Selection of oboe players is EXTREMELY limited. VERY few will actually be selected for oboe.
Students with profound overbites or underbites would have EXTREME difficulties producing good sounds on the oboe since the embouchure (mouth position) requires equal pressure on both sides of the reed at the same placement.
Because the oboe is such a difficult instrument to master, only students with high academic performance records will be considered. It is highly recommended that students who choose (and are selected) to play oboe take weekly private lessons with the applied lesson teacher at Wester. Private lessons cost $18.00 per week and scholarships are available based on financial need and demonstration of diligent work ethic. Students are required to maintain a supply of 3 high-quality reeds at ALL times. The financial trade-off for having to take lessons and keep a stock of working reeds is that Wester provides oboes for students at a cost of $100 rental for an entire school year for routine maintenance.
Unlike the oboe, the clarinet uses a “single reed” and a mouthpiece to produce the sound. Willingness to purchase or rent a director-recommended clarinet is a MUST! Unfortunately, there are some clarinets on the market whose poor design and craftsmanship will make it next to impossible for your student to succeed. We can help you avoid that pitfall.
One necessity of clarinet tone production is the ability to make the chin flat. Orthodontia is okay, but if a student has an extremely rounded bottom row of teeth, the mouthpiece will be hard to place in the proper position for tone production.
Instruction in clarinet can be meticulous. Students who are able to focus on and perform a detailed series of instructions could do well on clarinet. Students who have difficulty remembering a series of instructions should avoid playing clarinet. Clarinet players are also responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4 quality reeds.
The bassoon is to the oboe what the bass clarinet is to the clarinet. It is the larger, lower sounding version of the double reed instrument. However, bassoon students will not play oboe before switching, instead they will begin on the bassoon itself. VERY few students will be selected to play Bassoon.
A slight overbite is okay for students wishing to play bassoon, however, a student with an underbite should avoid bassoon. Agile thumbs is a necessity for playing bassoon proficiently as well as a medium or greater hand span.
Like the oboe, the bassoon is such a difficult instrument to master, only students with high academic performance records will be considered. It is recommended that students who choose (and are selected) to play bassoon take weekly private lessons with the applied lesson teacher at Wester. Private
lessons cost $18.00 per week and scholarships are available based on financial need and demonstration of diligent work ethic. Students are required to maintain a supply of 3 high-quality reeds at ALL times.
Again, the financial trade-off for having to take lessons and keep a stock of working reeds
is that Wester provides bassoons for students at a cost of $100 rental for an entire school for routine maintenance.
The alto saxophone gives the impression of being both a brass AND woodwind instrument, however it is indeed considered a woodwind instrument. The alto saxophone (which uses a single reed like the clarinet) is a very popular instrument like flute and only a few students will be chosen to play it.
Since the balance of the saxophone is maintained by the use of a neck strap, it is extremely important that students be able to sit up completely straight when asked to.
Saxophone players are responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4 quality reeds. Alto Saxophone students will have the opportunity after their first year of instruction to audition for Tenor Sax or Baritone Sax (based on their proven musical and behavioral abilities while in alto saxophone class).
The trumpet is the smallest member of the brass family. The sound on trumpet is produced by buzzing into a small mouthpiece.
While orthodontia is somewhat troublesome at first to a trumpet player, it is not impossible to make good sounds with braces. A slight overbite is okay, but an underbite can severely hinder progress on trumpet. Trumpet players come in all shapes and sizes.
Trumpet parts usually have the melody (recognizable) part, therefore students who choose and are selected for trumpet should exhibit a confident demeanor, strong personality, and demonstrate a high level of self-motivation.
The French horn is the also a member of the brass family. Its sound is produced by buzzing into a small mouthpiece similar to a trumpet. Students with good musical ears should consider French Horn.
A slight overbite is okay, but an underbite can severely hinder progress on French Horn. Because the bell of the French horn rests on the knee of the player while playing, it is imperative that a student’s upper torso be long enough to accommodate the size of the French horn to make good sounds and that players be able to demonstrate sitting straight up when asked to do so. The French horn’s keys are manipulated with the LEFT hand.
Because of the difficult nature of French horn notes (mentioned above), students should exhibit GREAT ability to match sung or played pitches by humming or singing. Perhaps this is a good instrument choice for students who have participated in piano lessons or choir groups. Wester provides French horns for students at a cost of $100 rental for an entire school year. Private lessons are strongly encouraged for French Horn due to the complexity of the instrument.
Like the French horn, trombone players should have good “musical ears”. The trombone is played like the other brass instruments (buzzing into a cup-shaped mouthpiece), but uses a slide instead of valves. The slide is not marked or notched and players rely on their memory and hearing to tell if they are in the EXACT proper location. Students with good musical ears should consider Trombone.
While some might think that trombone players must have long arms, the truth is there are numerous accommodations that make it possible for students of all shapes and sizes to play. A slight overbite is acceptable, while an extreme underbite would hinder success. Trombone players should have slightly
fuller lips than average.
Great trombone playing takes good concentration and study. Many quiet academicians have excelled at trombone.
The euphonium (you-PHONE-knee-yum) is sometimes known as the baritone. It is a member of the brass family and looks like a small version of a tuba. Its sound is similar to that of a trombone, but it uses valves like a trumpet instead of a slide (like trombone).
Euphonium players should have moderately full lips, but not too full. A SLIGHT overbite is okay, but an underbite would hinder a good sound. The euphonium requires a medium-sized hand span to reach the valves and students should have an above average lung capacity.
Students with an above average amount of orthodontia will find the mouthpiece of the euphonium a bit more comfortable than trumpet or French horn. Wester provides euphoniums for students at a cost of $100 rental for an entire school year, but students are required to purchase their own mouthpieces.
While many believe the tuba is the largest instrument in the band and would be hard to physically manage, the tubas we use for beginners are ¾ size and easy to handle.
Tuba players need to have full lips and a large lung capacity. While the size of the student doesn’t matter TOO much, a long torso (upper body) helps astudent reach the mouthpiece of the tuba while resting the bottom of the tuba on the edge of their chair or across the thighs.
The tuba provides the musical foundation for the band and requires players that are self-motivated over-achievers. Wester provides tubas for students at a cost of $100 rental for an entire school year, but students are required to purchase their own mouthpieces.
Just because you are always tapping on things does not mean youare a natural percussionist (drummer). In fact, the percussion section is the most select, hand-picked section of the band. Only students with the highest
grades, lowest discipline problems, backgrounds in piano lessons, and extremely high gross and fine motor skills will be considered for percussion.
Students should exhibit a great deal of coordination in gross and fine motor skills.
The study of percussion includes bells, triangle, tambourine, maracas, claves, among many other instruments. Private Lessons for percussion are strongly encouraged due to the nature of the instrument group and the amount of material that will be covered in class. Students chosen to play percussion will be required to rent a marimba.