Starting an instrument at school is a really exciting opportunity! For many parents and children, this is a whole new experience!
We know you don't want to miss out on anything-so here are some answers to questions you may have:
When do instrument lessons begin?
Depending on the instrument, you will be receiving information from Mrs. Clark (string instruments) or from Mr. Yacone (band instruments) in the next week or so. At this time, you will have the opportunity to rent an instrument from the school or from a music store. After most students have their instruments and necessary supplies, we will begin weekly lessons. This is usually the last week of September.
(String lessons will start the week of September 25th-please try to have your supplies and instruments by this date.)
When are lessons and how do they work?
Students have one lesson a week for 30 minutes. It will always be on the same day but will rotate on a schedule. This means a student will not miss the same class every week. Most classroom teachers have procedures in place for students to make up missed work due to lessons. The lesson schedules will be sent home, posted in the child's classroom, posted in the music hallway, and on this website.
String lessons are on the following days:
Winchester 4th and 5th grade-Wednesdays (orchestra rehearsal at 2:10)
What can I do at home to help my child succeed?
1. We ask that students practice their instrument at home. We know many children are involved in outside activities and family responsibilities. Learning an instrument takes effort and discipline. If a student only plays a half hour a week in school, they will likely not progress-and will usually get frustrated and quit. Please encourage your child to practice a few minutes (ideally 10-15), at least 5 days a week. This can include playing songs from lessons, trying to play songs by ear, playing scales, etc. Even if they look at the music in the car, their brain is expanding! String students are asked to keep a practice log and to have it signed each week.
2. Ask your child to play for you! By letting them know you like to listen, you are encouraging them more than you know! Nothing kills the love of music like a parent telling you how squeaky you sound!
3. Help your child remember their instrument and music on lessons days. Coming to lessons prepared is an exercise in responsibility...but we can all use a little help, especially in the beginning of the year.
4. Post the lesson schedule somewhere in your house or in the child's room. Read it with them each week so they know what time the lesson is.
5. Mark your calendars with the concert dates! The final performance is one of the most enjoyable parts of learning an instrument!
How do we rent an instrument from the school?
Students who have signed up for an instrument will receive a packet of information from the band or orchestra teacher. In the packet, there is a rental contract. If you would like to rent an instrument from the school, please return the completed and signed contract with $30 cash in an envelope. At this time (or very shortly after), the child will get an instrument to take home and use until June. Small instruments should be carried on the bus back and forth to school on lesson days. Large instruments (cello, string bass, tuba) do not need to be brought back and forth-the child will get an instrument to practice at home and a separate instrument to use while at school.
The $30 fee is used for repairs, replacements, cleaning, strings, bow repairs, etc.
School instruments are usually given out on a first come-first served basis, as we do not always have quite enough to fulfill the needs of our students.
My child is going into 5th grade and classes are getting harder. I think they should quit so they do not miss class time.
Our string schedule rotates through 7 or 8 periods. Students will only miss the same 30 minute class about every 7-8 weeks. With days off of school, this means students only miss the same 30 minute time slot once or twice per grading period (3-6 times a year). Teachers have procedures to help students make up what they missed in class. Playing an instrument has been shown to help students academically, even with the small amount of time out of class!
My child does not wish to play in 5th grade.
There are many reasons children may be discussing quitting their instrument. Please help me understand the true reason so I can assist.
Sometimes, an attitude goes around a class/grade and students start to think being involved is "uncool". This leads to many students making decisions they may regret later. If and when they regret quitting, encourage them to try to jump back in.
The first year of learning an instrument is nothing like playing an instrument from here on out. We have to start by learning the basics, how to care for the instrument, how to hold the instrument, etc. As we get better at these skills, we are able to play harder, more fun music. We play in larger groups and form great bonds of friendship! Sticking with it for one more year is a good idea-after that, a more informed decision can be made!
If a student is frustrated with note reading/feels it is too hard, help them to understand that it takes practice. No one is perfect right away. We will continue practicing to read notes for years to come. If they don't get it now, it only gets easier from here!
Now is the time to try new things. Learning an instrument is a beneficial experience that deserves that little bit of extra effort. How many adults have you talked to who have regretted quitting their instrument in school? Or wish they could take lessons now? Please help your child think through this decision!
If you have any other questions, e-mail is the best way to contact me! I can usually reply almost immediately! It's harder to find time to return phone calls during the day/after-school so it may take longer to get back to you!