6th Grade, Beginning Band:
No previous musical experience is necessary, only a desire to practice daily, and improve with the ensemble! Students will be introduced to the major instruments of the concert band. We will, together, agree on instrument assignments based upon student choice and ensemble needs. Instruction will include instrument assembly, care, safety, and maintenance, characteristic tone production, air support, the comprehension, interpretation, and composition of notated music, aural skill development, and the role of the individual in the ensemble, both as musicians and team members. Successful completion of this class as well as its end-of year written and performance tests allows advancement to the 7th Grade Intermediate Band.
7th Grade, Intermediate Band:
Students will continue to develop their instrumental technique, both as individuals, and ensemble members. The students’ musical skills will develop to include all 12 major scales, the chromatic scale, as well as band literature of at least a grade II level. Instruction will culminate in adjudicated solo and large-ensemble performances. Successful completion of this class as well as its end-of year written test and audition allows advancement to the 8th Grade Advanced Band.
8th Grade, Advanced Band:
Students will continue to develop their musical prowess to include all 12 major scales in two octaves, the chromatic scale to the full range of their instrument, as well as performing literature of at least a grade III level. Instruction will culminate in adjudicated solo and large-ensemble performances.
OTHER ENSEMBLES and PERFORMANCES:
Additionally, students may audition into the Jazz Band which will meet after school on Mondays, and the Percussion Ensemble, which will meet after school on Fridays. Every year, the band program performs at least three major concerts, including the Winter Holiday Program, the Concert Festival Pre-Concert, and our year-ending Spring Concert. Some years we also perform at 8th Grade Commencement.
Students may be responsible for the purchase of their own reeds, mouthpieces, oils, the class-specific band book, and all-black performance attire. In most all cases, the rental of a quality, name-brand instrument will be FAR preferred to the school-owned instruments. Percussionists will need snare sticks and two pairs of mallets; yarn and soft rubber. Performances outside of the normal school day, and at off-site locations, are part of the curriculum, and, as such, are required.
Solo and Ensemble:
Each spring, hundreds of thousands of American band students from elementary grades to seniors in high school participate in their local Solo and Ensemble Contest. This is NON-COMPETITIVE. Students prepare a solo that is appropriate to their experience level, go to Atherton High School, and perform for one judge, who is usually a band director from the outlying areas or a retiree. There is NO audience, so there should be no pressure! Students are also encouraged to prepare a duet with another band student. In some cases, trios or larger can be formed. There is a nominal fee associated with each event ($7 for each solo, $12 per ensemble). This is a required event, please see “Grading,” later in the Handbook.
Every year, there are several honor bands that select top students from around our area. I VERY STONGLY encourage each of our students to audition for these. They are wonderful ensembles that allow students to meet friends from other schools, while getting to know high-quality band literature, while surrounded by other very dedicated musicians. Some of the honor bands are:JCPS 7th- and 8th-Grade All-County Honor Bands (Auditions are in October.)