Longmeadow Elementary SchoolsBand & Strings Handbook for 2012-2013

Dear Parent/Guardian:

Welcome to your first year of Band & Strings in the Longmeadow Elementary Schools! Your child has joined a district-wide program of national renown, with instrumental and choral programs that consistently rank among the top school ensembles in the country. And it all begins right here at the elementary level!

By enrolling your child in the instrumental music program here at Longmeadow, you are opening the doors to a world of new opportunities! Our instrumental and vocal ensembles at the Middle and High School levels are frequently invited to perform at venues around the country and across the globe! Band and orchestra members gain confidence, and learn about teamwork, commitment, and responsibility. In addition, students who receive instrumental music lessons are routinely shown to have higher achievement academically. (For more information, visit http://www.nammfoundation.org/support-music.)

As the parent of a young musician, there are many things you can do to help foster your child’s musical growth right here at home:

  • Attend concerts at the Middle and High Schools, and in the community.
  • Provide a quiet space for home practice, with all the necessary equipment such as a sturdy chair, a CD player, and music stand.
  • Praise your child’s early efforts! It is easy to get discouraged in the first few months, and frequent words of encouragement from family members are an essential part of helping students through their first year! This cannot be understated.
  • Encourage your child to perform at family “mini-concerts” for grandparents, friends, family pets, stuffed animals... you get the idea! The more exposure kids have to performance early on, the more at ease they will be as they progress.

In this packet you will find important details of the program, as well as some helpful practice tips and helpful hints for the coming year. Please read this handbook carefully, and return the attached “Instrumental Music Contract” to your child’s music teacher no later than Friday, September 16th. Keep the second copy for your records.

Please do not hesitate to contact us throughout the year with any questions!

Musically yours,

Melissa Drysdale, Lucy Shrenker, & Susan Lauser

Student Responsibilities and Expectations
As a new part of the “team”, we are all counting on you to do your part to help us be the very best musicians we can be! This means being on time, prepared, and having a positive attitude towards those around you. And because lessons happen during the school day, you are responsible for making up all the work you miss while you are out of the classroom.

Student Responsibilities
1. Arrive on time to all lessons, rehearsals, and concerts. If you are unable to make it to a lesson due to a test, quiz, or any other reason, you must call the music room to let the music teacher know you will be absent.

2. Be prepared! Come to each lesson and rehearsal with your instrument, music, a stand if it is required by your teacher, and any supplies you need (such as reeds, rosin, etc.).

3. Make up all the work you miss while outside of the classroom. Make sure you check in with your classmates or teacher when you return to class after each lesson. It is your job, not your teacher’s, to make sure you know what you have missed.

4. Practice your instrument! Your teacher will give you a specific guideline to aim for when it comes to how much and what to practice each week.

5. Take your instrument and your music home every day, so that you can practice at home.

6. Ask questions when you don’t understand something, or are having trouble.


Practice Homework

After each lesson, your music teacher will let you know what to practice for the next week. This is your practice homework! You must complete your practice homework each day, in the same way that you must do your math homework or your writing assignment. At your next lesson, the teacher will check to see that you’ve done your practice homework, and help you with any problems you had. Here are some hints and ideas to help you with your practice homework.

1. Find a quiet place in your house to practice. You’ll need a chair, a music stand, a CD player or computer to play your book’s practice CD, your music, and (of course) your instrument.

2. Schedule a time to practice each day.

3. If you’re having trouble, try practicing just the hard parts, and slow them way down. When you can play it slowly, start speeding it up, just a little bit each time.

4. Break longer things, or hard parts, down into smaller “chunks”. Practice only a few notes or measures at a time, and when that starts to get too easy, start putting the song back together again.

5. Take a break!!! If things get too hard, and you get frustrated, don’t forget to take a break. Get up, take a deep breath, stretch, move around, or just come back to the music again after you’ve had a chance to think about it.

1. Help your child schedule regular practice time into each week. It always helps to have a plan!

2. Make sure your child has a quiet, distraction-free place to practice, with a chair, stand, and a CD player.

3. Encourage your child, and praise their efforts! Playing a new instrument is hard work, and the harder things get, the more encouragement your child will need.

4. Never use practicing as a punishment.

5. Ask questions about what your child is playing, and show interest in what they are working on. Ask them to teach you what they’ve learned!

6. Encourage them to perform at small family gatherings or holidays! The more kids perform, the easier performing becomes.

7. Contact your child’s music teacher immediately if there are any problems with music lessons. This is especially important if you feel that lessons are interfering with the child’s academic work in the classroom. Communication is the key to success!

=Longmeadow Elementary Schools Band & Strings Grading Policy

Students in band and orchestra will receive three grades each trimester on their progress and participation in the program. If your child is enrolled in the program but does not receive a grade for band or orchestra on their report card, please contact your child’s music teacher immediately.

1. “Performs Written Notation Accurately”: This grade is an indication of the student’s progress reading musical notation, and is based on the student’s performance in lessons, rehearsals, and practice homework. A “3” means that the student is able to participate successfully in rehearsals and lessons. A “4” indicates that the student is able to read music that is more difficult than is typically experienced in lessons and rehearsals. A “2” means that the student is able to participate with some extra help and time, and that their abilities in this area are continuing to develop. A “1” indicates that the student is only barely able to participate in lessons and rehearsals due to challenges reading the music.

2. “Demonstrates Proper Tone Production”: This grade will be an indication of the quality of sound that a student is able to consistently produce on their instrument. In general, a “3” is considered average tone production—that is, the student is progressing at a rate which is to be expected for their age and individual ability. A “4” is considered above average progress, and a “2” is an indication that the student’s abilities in this area are still developing. A “1” indicates that the student is experiencing difficulty producing a good quality sound on their instrument.

3. “Exhibits Cooperative And Responsible Attitude”: Students begin each semester with a “3” in this category. However, students who repeatedly miss lessons and rehearsals, who routinely show up unprepared (without their instrument), or who exhibit inconsistent practice habits or a poor attitude may find their grades lowered. Students who practice consistently, maintain an exceptionally positive attitude, and always arrive at lessons and rehearsals prepared and on time will earn a “4”.