FAQ - Beginning Band & Orchestra

Q: Do you teach guitar or piano?

No. We teach traditional band and orchestra instruments, as listed on the registration page. Guitar and piano classes are currently available as electives at the middle school.

Q: My child wants to play the drums... why does he/she have to begin on bells?

There is no option for "drummers" in band... only percussionists. Percussionists must be familiar with every instrument that you strike to make a sound. Many of those are keyboard instruments, which are laid out like the piano keyboard. This is why we recommend piano experience for percussionists. Playing the bells gives them a firm grounding in music and rhythm-reading skills, and prepares them to play the bells, marimba, xylophone, vibes, chimes... the list goes on. Even after they complete their introduction to bells and move on to snare drum techniques, your student will continue to play a keyboard instrument on almost every concert in which they participate. 

Q: How much time are students expected to practice?

Ms. Vogt likes to say that you only have to practice on the days you want to eat... Practice is their homework, and reinforces the academic concepts of music as well as the muscle memory and skills learned in the lesson each week. Students should practice 4-5 times per week, and 15-20 minutes each time. As they build endurance and ability, that time will get longer.

Q: What is the best instrument for my child?

We tell the students to consider 1) the instrument that sounds best to them; 2) the instrument that feels best to them; and 3) how they will get it to school on their lesson day. Students are responsible for having their instrument at their lesson every week, and walking 5 blocks with a percussion kit might be overwhelming, especially in rough weather!

Q: When are the lessons? 

The lesson days vary for each teacher, ensemble, and school, and teacher assignments and travel depend on the number of students and instruments at each location. However, once the days have been assigned, your child's lesson will be on the same day for the entire school year. The lesson time will rotate throughout that day, so that students do not always miss the same class. I.E. - this week at 8:30, next week at 9:00, the next at 9:30, etc.

Q: Do I really need to come to the recruitment nights?

If you already have an instrument, or if your child is sure of what they are playing, then no. You can rent an instrument and register completely online HERE. The reason we hold the events is so that children can hold the instruments and actually try making a sound on them, to see what fits them and feels best before making this important decision.

Q: What if my child doesn't like their instrument? Can they switch?

Unfortunately, if your child decides that they want to switch instruments, they cannot do that midyear. They will have to wait until next fall to sign up for lessons on a new instrument. They can drop band or orchestra, and if you are renting, you can return the instrument with no further obligation. If your student hits a stumbling block, please contact their individual teacher before making this decision, and try to find a way to work together and help them past it.

Q: I am renting... do I really need to pay for the monthly insurance?

YES!!! Even the most careful child has accidents, and the insurance covers just about anything that happens. Totally worth it.

If you have further questions, please e-mail Tom Kanwischer.