Wayland Middle School
PARENT LETTER (If you read the email copy of the letter, click here to continue)
(Parents - even if you have had many students in band,
please read this manual - it is amazing what we might have missed the other times!)
Dear Middle School Band Parents:
As I begin my last year of teaching (yes, the rumors are true; I’m retiring at the end of this year), I find that I have a lot of mixed feelings. I will really miss the middle school students – it is such a wonderful age and I love watching them find themselves more competent than they thought they could be. It’s great! I get to play around with them, get them all excited and worked up, then send them home to you! J But I am retiring so that I can take my adult band work into the independent living facilities and work more with elders. (Don’t know about Sudbury Valley New Horizons Band? Go to www.svnhb.org. It is a band for adults who never had the opportunity to play a band or orchestra instrument or who quit years ago and would like to learn again.)
Meanwhile, I am really excited about making music with this group of students coming into our bands this year! I had so much fun in the rehearsal with last year’s 5th graders; I think putting the two groups together is going to be awesome!!! And, I already know how the Symphonic Band is likely to play and I am champing at the bit to get started!
I’ve picked out some music that I am excited about and that I think the students will enjoy. So... how can we have a successful year??? We each have a part to play (students, parents and me) in making this the best year of your child’s band life.
- Make band fun.
- Guide the students in learning more about music in general and more about their instruments.
- Help the student grow as a musician and as a good person.
- Reinforce the importance of each person developing responsibility.
- Be as clear and consistent as possible.
- Be kind and respectful of each person.
- Be as helpful & encouraging as possible!
- (...and first time middle school parents, I’ll try to help you negotiate the confusing MS schedule! Do email me if you have any questions.)
Your job (as parent/guardian):
- Encourage practice (commonly called, nagging...). What we do in band rehearsal puts together the work the musicians do at home; musicians must practice to improve, and that includes me! If the musicians haven’t practiced, we can’t rehearse because they can’t play the music!!!
- Take an interest in what your child is learning and ask him/her to play for you and to explain how it all works.
- Go over the info in your child’s band folder.
- Help your child be responsible – don’t do things for him/her, but remind and nudge (“Do you have any band papers due?” “Is your Skill Lick ready to be played? Play it for me, I’d like to hear it.” -- and this is true for all school work. "Do you have any math homework? Show me what you are doing. How does this work - it isn't the same as when I was in school.")
- Encourage your child to ask me for help if he/she doesn’t understand something. I teach because I like to help students learn!!! I will NEVER laugh at, belittle or think poorly of a student asking for help; quite the contrary, it makes me think that student cares about learning.
- If your child is discouraged, contact me immediately so that I can help!
The young musician’s job:
- Listen in rehearsal and mark reminders in the music.
- Be responsible (come to rehearsals and workshops, do the assignments to improve skills, get things done on time, bring instrument & music to every class, etc.).
- Be a good student and strive to learn more, not do just the minimum.
- Ask for help when needed (lots of students have trouble with this one; it can be scary!)
- Practice. :-)
Please look over the rest of the band manual (it is on line) and fill out & return the Manual Return Sheet (also on line)
This band manual will give you some sense of my goals and
curriculum, my philosophy of grading for this course and my
expectations of each band member. The reference section of
the manual also includes some commonly requested information
(private lesson teachers, etc.). Please do take the time to read over the section
in your hands and keep the manual handy throughout the year.
All parents who are new to our program, please be sure to
read the section on our playing tests (band exam). (And, anyone whose child was
troubled by exams last year, please also review that section
& call me so I can help set him/her & you at ease.)
If you have any questions about grading or scheduling or
sectionals / workshops or concerts or anything, please call
me at home 978-261-5065 or email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (Be sure to check the concert
to be successful, your young musician must practice
playing at school is not enough!
for at least 20 minutes,
5 days a week.
WHAT I WANT FOR MY STUDENTS (even if you have read
this before, please review the goals as we go into a new
I want the students to have fun making music together. That is key, and that is way I am changing the grading system. But, I want more...
I want independent learners. To achieve this, we
spend a lot of workshop time on rhythm reading and
sight-reading. I don't want to hear "How does this go?" and
"Was that right?" I want each musician to be able to figure
it out alone or at least have a good guess! Rhythm reading is the key here. Much of this
work is done in our workshops (workshops happen 4 or 5 times in a 9 week term).
I want well-rounded musicians. To achieve this, I
feed them more. No, no, I mean I feed them more different
types and styles of music. In our workshops, we practice
reading rhythms while listening to many different types of
instrumental music. We get an introduction to a variety of historical periods
(Renaissance & Baroque to contemporary), we explore new
instruments (from crumhorns to the Irish harp), we discuss
composers and performers, and we experiment with
improvisation and some advanced theory. In full band
rehearsals, we perform many different styles of music, and
when we are performing an orchestral or piano transcription,
we also listen to the original version.
I want musicians who practice self-assessment.
Through our "Thoughts
Papers" we will be working on learning to
be reflective about one's own playing, as well as the
performance of the section and the whole group. I want the
musicians to tell me how it is going, and not just sit
passively waiting for me to report to them. We are going to
practice intellectualizing about what we know and
determining what we don't know. I want them to learn to
"hear with their eyes" and be able to have a sense of the
piece BEFORE they hear it. (So, there is some written work
in band; please support your child in doing these
assignments, too! In most cases, there is time to get these
assignments done in class; if you find that your child is
complaining about having to do them at home, contact me! --
Beginning Thoughts sometimes do have to be done at home and
they count as part of the student's practice time.)
I want musicians who know how to speak the
language and think in musical terms and analyze the music intellectually using these terms.
We are going to be working on using musical terms in our
listening for specific musical happenings. This skill is one
that can carry over into all of the student's musical
listening, no matter what the style of music.
I want musicians who see the notes on the page as a
representation of emotions, and who are progressing
toward being able to play the notes musically, and with
feeling, whether or not there are specific interpretive
Lastly, I want musicians who enjoy music!
Hopefully, I can help each student get a deeper
understanding and enjoyment from all types of music: the
classics, jazz, rock, folk, music of other cultures or
- Concert Band (grade 6) meets A day & B day during
flex period, which is the second block.
- Symphonic Band (grade 7/8) meets C day & E day during
flex period, which is the second block.
Letter days switch around here at the middle school (A day is not always Monday), so students will have to pay
attention to which letter day it is (please help them write
it in their planners!). The letter days are posted on the band calendar and the MS calendar on the website. It would be useful for you to write all of the letter days on your family calendar and for the child to write them in his/her planner. (Be aware, the rotation often changes after vacations so that Wednesday, our short day, isn't always the same letter day).
Each grade has only two flexes a week, and yes, band
takes up both of those times. This is tough on some of the kids, but
this is the case in most schools; the time has to come from
somewhere! The teachers have been really good about giving
help during the studies, too. One of the student's studies
will be used for workshop, but workshops do not happen every
week (usually only 4 or 5 times out of 9 weeks in a term). I will be continuing the
practice of having after school workshops as often as
possible. If your child is in special needs classes, please
be sure I know if&when he/she does have studies and I will
attempt to put workshops on those days.
WORKSHOPS Workshops are time for us to work on
rhythm reading, sight-reading, music theory, scales and
other skill builders and to learn something about music
history. The workshops are scheduled for 5-7 different times
each week and each student should pick the period that works
best in her/his schedule; most can be scheduled during study
hall. When we get closer to the concerts, we will have
sectionals instead of workshops. In sectionals all the
instruments of one section are asked to come to rehearsal
together. Ideally, it works best to come with the section,
but if a student can't make it that period, she/he may come
during almost any of the sectionals scheduled. It's not
quite as effective to be the only trombone player with the
flute section, but it's better than nothing!
Students are scheduled to come to one workshop OR
per week when there are workshops scheduled.
The schedule is posted on the website and is passed out in
posted in the cafeteria, on the band stage and in most homerooms.
help by encouraging your child to write workshops into
his/her planner. It helps to note it on the day of the
workshop and also in the homework area on the day
PLEASE! If your young musician is having trouble with the
workshops or sectionals, please call me; I can often make
suggestions that help out or we can devise an alternative
Practice is what makes the
difference. Your child is not keeping up and is not having a
successful experience if you are not hearing practice at
home! It is impossible. What we do in school is not
enough! In order to make progress, minimum practice at home should be 20
minutes, 5 days a week. 30 minutes is better.
Consistency is the key here; 15 minutes on four days is
better than two hours one day a week. (HOWEVER, even 5 minutes every
day will help establish a practice habit and hopefully the
habit will grow.) Lesson time does not count as practice
time; actually, one of the best times to practice is
immediately after a lesson so that the student remembers
what was done!! Students in jazz band or who wish to be the
best in their section must practice a minimum of 30 minutes
every day - the truly excellent students usually practice
45-60 minutes a day (7 days a week-with occasional times off).
Please help your young musician with his or her
practice. Most middle school students can not keep it up
themselves. Ideally, spend some time sitting and listening
to the student's work and asking questions (even if you are
not a musician, your interest will help!). Get him or her to
show you what is being worked on and how it all fits
together. Praise goes a long way toward sparking interest in
the young musician. Call me or email
me if there seems to be a problem.
As of now, the dates are as follows (but for one reason
or another, we often end up changing at least one, sigh...
you can check the web site for an up-to-date listing):
Winter Band Concert: Thursday, December 1, 7:30
PM (Concert Band, Symphonic Band and the jazz groups) Middle
In-School Concert: TBA
Junior District Recital: Required for all students auditioning for Junior District. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2:30-3:45ish.
Jazz Band at MLK Potluck dinner: Friday, January 20? (Date to be confirmed later), usually early - around 6:00
Jazz Band (with Select Chorus & the Honors Chamber
Ensemble) trip to the Elementary Schools: Friday,
February 3, all day
Jazz Night: Monday, February 13, 7:30 at the HS (middle school
and high school jazz groups), Place: Middle School Theater,
Band Fest: Thursday., February 16, 7:30 at the HS field house. (Elementary
bands, Concert & Symphonic Bands & High School
Bands - no jazz groups)
Junior District Festival: March 16 & 17, all day both days, for students who audition and earn a place in one of the Junior District Groups.
Spring Band Concert: Thursday, April 12, 7:30 PM
(Concert, Symphonic, & jazz groups and Wind Ensemble),
Middle School Theatre.
Memorial Day Parade: May 28, meet at 10:00 at the
Middle School. (Elementary, MS & HS bands)
Faneuil Hall Concert: Date TBA - probably early June. Symphonic Band will play a concert with Trottier Middle School, splitting the time so that each group plays two 20 minute sets. See last year's WayCam video from the trip! It was awesome!
Band Awards Breakfast: Wednesday, June 6, 6:30 AM
- 7:45 AM (Jazz band performs & awards are given out to
all band members. All band members and families are invited
to attend), Middle School Cafeteria
Eighth Grade Breakfast: Last day of school - 8:15ish
- Jazz Band plays
Please note: Concerts are not optional! Each child makes a difference, even if he/she doesn't have a solo part; you never know who might be relying on you to be leading in a particular spot! If extenuating circumstances require
that a student miss a concert, an assignment will be offered
so that the student can make up the points.* Please help
teach your young musician the importance of honoring
commitments and please put these dates on the calendar now.
Also, should something come up, please call me. If I know
even a half hour beforehand,
- I won't worry
- I can make arrangements if the student's part needs
to be covered
- I will think positively about the student's
For concert emergencies, I may be easiest to reach
through my cell phone number.
* The make-up work earns the points and provides an alternative
learning experience, but the student misses the learning
and teamwork-feeling that happens when one is on the spot
in a concert situation. Some makeup details are on the website;
students should also pick up a hand out.
Black pants or skirt -- NO SHORT SKIRTS!!! They look
terrible on stage (and you can see right up them!). If the student wishes to wear a skirt,
please be sure it is fairly full and falls somewhat below
the knee when she sits down. We want a uniform black leg
appearance. For the parade: long pants only; no shorts, no
crop-pants and no skirts (skirts in the wind are
Our Red Band Shirt -- if your child doesn't have one yet or has outgrown his/hers, there will be order forms out in early October.
Shoes -- Dress shoes are best for concerts if you have them, but don't go out and
buy shoes just for the concert.
(White athletic shoes are nice for the parade.) Anything is OK (but maybe avoid
bright red or green or yellow with purple polka dots or...). No flip-flops -- they really aren't formal attire and can be dangerous when marching.
Remember, the point of a uniform is so that the whole
group looks the same. We don't want anyone to stick out
and draw the audience's attention away from the music. Thanks for your cooperation.
OUR TWO "R WORDS":
I put a heavy emphasis on two words: Responsibility
and Respect. In some ways, these two words are the bulk
of our curriculum.
Responsibility is the key word in a band or any
group situation where others rely on your part in the group.
No one benefits from a student who is a real whiz on the
instrument but doesn't bother to bring it to rehearsal,
misses concerts or if he/she does come,or doesn't bother to
dress appropriately. This student isn't learning much and
lowers the band morale. By contrast, the student who may not
have much technical ability, but is reliable, practices and
really tries, can't help but improve and contributes
immeasurably to the group's spirit and cohesion!
Respect for ourselves, for each other and for our
physical surroundings, while unfortunately often conspicuous
by its absence in our world today, is of paramount
importance to all of us. Being attentive and not talking in
rehearsal is one obvious indication of respect. Maintaining
a healthy sense of self-esteem, developing good
relationships with those around us, and ultimately
developing and maintaining satisfying communities in which
to live (not to mention doing well in band and getting along
with other band members!) all depend on this second "R
Thus ends the portion of the manual
with which each student and parent should be intimately
acquainted. The reference section which follows
contains information concerning enrichment suggestions,
grading, exams, instrument lockers, a sample practice chart,
a list of private lesson teachers and some places to get
basic music supplies. You may peruse
these at your leisure.
Please sign the form on the last page of the manual and
return it (along with money for workshop materials -- Band
Stuff Book, pencils & stickers) to school by September
27 (for 7/8) or 28 (for grd6). Student who have things turned in by these dates will be involved in the raffle
drawings*. Students who do not have everything turned in by the dates above will not get any raffle tickets and must have everything turned in by Thursday, October 6 to
avoid detention! (Students who turn things in early get
raffle tickets; students who turn things in late get
detention! Something for everyone!)
*Raffle prizes consist of things like a music dictionary, music pencils, music supplies, a blowup guitar, kazoos, harmonicas, nose flutes, music bumper stickers, buttons, and other music items.
Band fees (for Band Stuff Books, pencils and prizes) vary:
- Students who do not have a Band Stuff Book or need a new one: $7.00
- Returning students who have their Band Stuff Book
from last year: $2.00
Thanks & have a great year.
Private lessons make a BIG
for the advanced student &
and the struggling student.
Click on the herald trumpeter to move to the next
page of the band manual.