A MESSAGE FROM MR. DENNISTON:
I am very pleased to have each of you as a musician in the WMS 7th & 8th Grade Band. Together, we will continue to make the Band a source of pride for our school, our community, and ourselves. I pledge to do everything I can to make our Band experience interesting, educational and fun for all of us. I promise to work hard for you.
In return, I will be expecting an equal commitment from you. You will have rehearsals and sectionals to attend, as well as several performances throughout the year. Each rehearsal or sectional is a class, in which there are specific goals to be achieved. Your homework from me will be to prepare certain music, whether it is in your lesson book or Band folder, and complete assignments on SmartMusic, an exciting computer program that each of you will be able to take and use at home. Your grades are based on attendance and completion of your assignments, as well as your achievement of our program goals. I’m sure you can see the importance of attending all sectionals and rehearsals.
Every instrument case must have the student’s name on it. School-owned instruments also show the serial number. This is especially important because instrument cases tend to get mixed-up, resulting in students bringing the wrong instrument home or finding their instrument missing. Be sure to keep a written record of your instrument’s brand, model, serial number and cost at home. Students renting instruments should also have this information, along with a copy of the rental agreement.
Upon entering the school in the morning, go directly to the band room , put your instrument and folder in your “cubby”, then report to class. Please pick-up your instruments upon dismissal, or prior to your last period class if teachers allow.
Please do not leave instruments in school overnight and do not leave them in your lockers. The safest place for your instrument is at home. :) Having your instrument at home also makes it convenient for practicing. Be especially careful not to leave your instrument unattended in the school halls, or on school grounds, even for a moment.
PARTICIPATION IN CONCERT AND JAZZ BAND
Students will be allowed to participate in rehearsals and performances throughout the year, provided they meet certain minimum performance standards on their instrument. You will be advised regarding these standards in sectionals.
Beginning or less-accomplished students may require anywhere from a few months to a year or more of preparation for Band participation. The amount of time necessary is determined solely by the individual student’s willingness to work hard and learn. Sectional attendance and home practice are the most important factors. Everyone will continue to get lessons (sectionals) each week.
Bring all necessary equipment such as music, pencils, etc. Please make every effort to be in your assigned seat as soon as possible. Although it is a 35-minute rehearsal on paper, you need time to set-up, disassemble and maintain your instrument properly. Often, the chairs and stands must be set-up as well. Our rehearsal time is very valuable to us so please don’t waste it!
Students have volunteered to participate in Band because they enjoy playing a musical instrument with a group of friends. There is no place in Band for students who wish only to draw attention to themselves by their immature or improper behavior. Students causing disruptions can expect that their parents will be notified promptly.
The more time the entire Band can spend engaged in rehearsing, learning, improving and growing together musically, the better our Band will become. Your enjoyment of Band will also increase as the Band’s proficiency grows. Please bear in mind that any disruption diminishes the quality of Band for everyone.
Everyone will have one sectional each week, when possible. Sectionals are scheduled on a rotating basis so that a student will not miss a certain class more than once every four or five weeks. Sectional schedules are sent to homerooms and classrooms, as well as posted on the bulletin board outside the band room and on schoolwires. It is your responsibility to learn your sectional time each week. Make sure to properly inform your classroom teacher well in advance that you will be missing a particular class. Report to that class first, before your sectional, so you are not marked as “cutting”. Remember to find-out what work you will be missing and what your homework assignments will be. You are responsible for all classwork and homework assignments. The same is true for any Band assignments given should you happen to miss a sectional. Please be sure to inform me if you must be absent from sectionals, so you get full credit on your instrumental music report card grade. Communication between you and your teachers is most important.
Each student will be given his or her own set of music to practice at home, as well as a set of music to keep in an assigned folder at school. Lost folders or music must be replaced by the student. It is recommended that students purchase a small three-ring notebook for their Band music. Band members are responsible for having their music at every rehearsal and sectional. Once again, in order to earn full credit on your report card grade, you will need to have your instrument and all music for each session.
You should set aside time each day for home practice to maintain the skills you have, and to develop new skills. At your age, a 15-20 minute practice session four or five days a week is about the barest minimum needed to properly learn your Band music, and lesson assignments, and for overall improvement. Naturally, more practice time will lead to greater achievement.
In addition to your Band and sectional assignments, you may elect to work on solo or ensemble music, or popular songs during practice time.
Try to find a quiet place at home where you won’t be disturbed, and schedule your practicing for the same time each day. Remember that 30 minutes each day is much more beneficial than two hours every fourth day.
You will be given practice reports on SmartMusic, on which you will record your practice time for the quarter. Please refer to this practice report for more information regarding practice time. Points will be awarded for home practice, for your report cards and end-of-year awards.
Private lessons are very important for your musical development. There are many intricacies to playing an instrument that are best taught on a one-to-one basis, and you cannot expect this kind of attention in school sectionals of 8-16 people. Depending on your budget and ability level, you may choose to take lessons from a High School student, recent graduate or Professional.
All Band members are expected to participate in assemblies, field trips, and school concerts, as well as other scheduled performances. If you must miss a performance, you must bring a note from your parents in order to be excused. Unexcused absences will affect your report card grade.
Concert dress will be worn for all indoor evening school performances (Winter, District and Spring Concerts).
Young ladies: White blouses or turtlenecks, and dark dress pants (preferably black), black dress shoes (no sandals), black socks or hose.
Young gentlemen: White collared shirts with a tie, dark dress pants (preferably black), dark shoes and socks.
The Jazz Band is a small ensemble, which meets after school on Wednesdays from 2:35-3:30 PM. Students will be given a list of these after-school rehearsal dates.
In Jazz Band students learn a variety of music in jazz, rock, Latin and pop styles. Instrumentation is limited to saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, electric bass, guitar, mallets and drum set. These are the instruments for which Jazz Band music is written, at this level. You must be a member in good standing in the Band in order to participate in this group. The only exception would be a guitar or piano player that does not play an instrument in the Band. Auditions may be required if there is an excess of certain instruments.
Jazz Band has performed at school concerts, local events, and in competitions at Music Festivals.
It is expected that Jazz Band members will attend all rehearsals. Students wishing to be excused from a particular rehearsal must provide a written note from a parent.
Jazz Band dress consists of a collared white shirt and tie, black dress pants, dark socks and shoes.
NYSSMA SOLOS and ENSEMBLES, ALL-COUNTY TRYOUTS
Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the annual NY State School Music Association Evaluation Festival, held in April/May/June. You have the opportunity to perform a solo, or in an ensemble, and receive evaluative comments from a professional musician. Musicians wishing to be considered for All-County Band or Orchestra must perform a solo at this festival.
REPORT CARD GRADES
Report card grades are based on participation, minimum home practice (minimum 75 minutes per week), attendance at sectionals, practicing you instrument, and completion of SmartMusic assignments. Full participation in rehearsals (having your instrument and following all directions) makes up 25% of your grade. Taking your instrument home and practicing is considered your homework and makes up 25% of your grade. Attendance at, and being prepared for, sectionals makes up 25% of your grade. Attendance at performances makes up 25% of your grade.
You DO NOT lose points if you are absent from school, if you are unable to play due to illness or if your instrument is being repaired, or if another teacher would not allow you to attend. Please inform Mr. Denniston of these situations, so you will receive full credit. Remember that written excuses from a parent are required for missed performances. Additional points can be earned by practicing more than 90 minutes per week. There will also be other opportunities for extra credit.
PLEASE AVOID THE FOLLOWING SITUATIONS. Your grade will decrease for each occurrence.
-Unexcused lateness or absence from Band rehearsals.
-Unexcused absence from sectionals, or assignment unprepared for sectional.
-Instrument is left in school over a weekend.
-Unexcused absence from a performance.
-Less than 75 minutes practiced weekly
-For beginning students, missed sectionals or instruments left in school may result in your exclusion from the band program.
Section Leaders: Selected by Mr. Denniston. Whenever possible, a Section Leader will be chosen from both 7th and 8th grade for each large section of the Band (Flutes, Clarinets, Saxophones, Trumpets, Low Brass, Percussion). Section Leaders are expected to be musical leaders as well as assist with clerical tasks such as taking attendance and distributing music.