A Guide for Parents


Each year, as sixth grade band begins at Glencoe, the band office is flooded with phone calls and questions concerning every aspect of the beginning band program.  Although this booklet is not in any way intended as a replacement for in-person contact with parents, I hope that it answers some of the questions that are asked most often.  Please feel free to contact me in person if you have any questions that are not covered here-- I would be more than happy to assist you.


Testing and Fitting for Instruments


The decision concerning which student should play which instrument depends on four factors:


  1. The physical suitability of the student for the specific instrument.  (Structure of mouth and teeth, lip size, hand size, body build, etc.)
  2. The student’s natural abilities in pitch discrimination and rhythmic recognition.
  3. The wishes of the student and his/her family.
  4. The balanced instrumentation of the band as a whole.


The process of choosing individual instruments, which takes place in the first couple of weeks of band class, consists of four steps:


Step One-- During the students’ PE class, I will come and talk to students regarding the joining of band and send information home to you.  I will give you a couple of days to talk this over with your child and make sure that this is the proper decision for your family.  The students will then begin coming to the High School Band Room immediately after school.  For the first couple of days they are actually in class I will administer a short test designed to measure each student’s level of musical “hearing ability.”  This is not a test that your child can study for or fail, and it is used only as a guide for instrument selection.  At this time I also give the students some basic information on the different instruments and ask them to think about three instruments that they might like to try.  The instruments they may choose from are the flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba and percussion (drums).


Step Two-- I consult with the students’ fifth and sixth grade teachers concerning progress in academic areas.


Please Remember:  We allow every student who wishes to start band an opportunity to do so.  Students are not excluded from the program on the basis of test scores or past academic performance.


Step Three-- I will meet with each student individually to allow him/her to try any of the instruments used in the band.  We begin with the three instruments that the student has chosen (as discussed in Step One above).  If one of these is not satisfactory, the student may try any of the others as well.  At this point we discuss the student’s success with each instrument and recommend the instrument that would “fit” your child most appropriately.


Step Four-- Students interested in playing percussion will take a short test in which rhythms are clapped back to the teacher.  Piano experience is also very helpful in playing drums.  The students selected (usually 4-6) play drums; the others play their previously chosen wind instruments.


After instrument fitting and percussion testing are completed, I will send home a letter which indicates the instrument that was recommended for your child.  An enclosed response form allows you to indicate whether or not you wish for your child to participate, and which option you wish to pursue for purchasing an instrument.


IMPORTANT:  We require every student (with his/her parents) who chooses to participate in band to commit to staying in the class through the end of the school year.  At that point, the parent and student will be given two weeks to make a decision regarding continued participation.  After the two-week “window” students are expected to continue with band for the following school year.


Instrument Purchase/Rental


  1. New Instruments-- Purchase or rental of a new instrument from Gadsden Music Co. is the most popular option for obtaining an instrument.  Gadsden Music Co. will sell you a band instrument on a “rent-to-own” basis for a beginning student.  If you choose not to have your student continue at the end of school, you may return the instrument without incurring any further cost.  If you are not sure whether your child will continue with band, it may be wise to choose this option at the start.


Please consult the list included later in this message for the brands and models of instruments that we recommend.  Our recommendations balance quality with price.  There are a number of inexpensive instruments available that are of poor quality and will not last; there are also no replacement parts for those instruments (these would included instruments bought from Sam’s Club, WalMart, etc.)  It is important that you purchase a quality instrument—the extra money spent now will save on repairs later, and it is difficult for your child to make satisfactory progress if the instrument is away for repairs.


  1. Used Instruments-- The purchase of a used instrument can be the least expensive option for obtaining an instrument for your child.  The option can also be the least risky from a financial standpoint, because value has already depreciated considerably from when the instrument was new.  Used instruments are available from a number of sources.  Friends and relatives, rummage sales, newspaper ads, and pawn shops are all common sources for new instruments.  We also usually distribute our own “classified” list of used instruments for beginning students.  I highly recommend checking with Gadsden Music Co. for a reconditioned used or rental return instrument.  I know that these instruments are in good repair before leaving the store.  Gadsden Music’s “rent to own” plan as well as a maintenance agreement is usually available for reconditioned used and rental return instruments.  Whatever the source for your used instruments, I ask that you arrange for me to inspect the instrument before you buy it.  I can help you determine if you are getting a good value, and the approximate cost of any repairs and/or additional parts needed.


  1. School instruments-- Baritones and tubas are very expensive instruments and we do not require the student to purchase them.  If your student is selected to play the baritone or tuba, we will supply the instrument and he/she will only need to supply a mouthpiece and valve oil.  Baritone players will need to purchase a Bach 6 ½ AL mouthpiece.  Tuba players will need to purchase a Conn Helleberg 7B or a Bach 18 mouthpiece.  The student will be responsible for keeping the school instrument clean and well-maintained.  The student and parents will assume responsibility for any damage to instrument beyond normal wear.




We will be using two band books for the entire year, entitled Essential Elements (Book One) and Winning Rhythms.  These books are available at Gadsden Music Co. but may also be ordered through the Band Office.  Separate books are published for each instrument, so be sure to buy the proper book for the instrument your child will be playing.  Checks for books purchased through the band office should be made payable to Glencoe High School.




Class will be held from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm on Wednesdays, and after school until 4:30 on Mondays and Thursdays.  




In keeping with the pride and self-respect we are seeking to promote among band students, concert dress should be very nice.  Students should not wear jeans, shorts, tennis shoes, or tops with printed messages or logos if at all possible.  In general, it helps to think about dressing as if the student were going to church or attending a wedding. Our first concert will be Thursday, December 14th at 6:30 Cove Creek Baptist Church.




Students are given letter grades for band during each grading period.  Our grading system is designed mainly to reward students for effort and self-improvement.  Any student, regardless of talent or musical background, should be able to earn a satisfactory grade.


The grading system is based on a point system.  Point totals are updated weekly, and printouts of your child’s grade are available at any point in the marking period from the band office.  The overall grade is divided into three categories:


Weekly Practice Average (100 points)


Each week your child will be required to turn in a practice card, signed by a parent, that states the amount of time spent practicing at home that week (band class and private lessons do not count in the total).  Blank cards are available in the bandroom and will be due each Friday.  There is a three-day grace period to turn in the cards after they are due: cards turned in later than Wednesday after the due date will not be accepted.


The minimum practice requirement per week is 100 minutes, and practice portion of the grade is simply the average of all of the weekly practice cards.  If a student averages more than 100 per minutes per week, the extra points are still recorded as part of the grade and can make up for lost points in other categories.




We believe that consistent practice is the most important aspect of participation in band, and it is therefore the most important part of the grading policy.  A good practice average not only earns more points, but helps a student to be more prepared for class and perform better on quizzes (positive factors in the other two grading categories).  Practice is the key to becoming a better musician…and to earning a better grade!




Quiz Scores (100 points)


This grading category is an average of the grades your student earns on quizzes given during the marking period.  A quiz may consist of written material or a short excerpt to be performed during class.  Quizzes will be assigned at least one class day in advance.  There are no “pop” quizzes. 


Daily Participation (150 points)


This portion of the grade is based on your child’s participation during class and includes preparation of the material assigned and having a pencil and music for each class meeting.  Other factors include starting and stopping with the director and responsiveness to musical direction and instruction.   



Sixth Grade Band Grading Summary


PRACTICE AVERAGE                                100 possible points

QUIZ AVERAGE                                         100 possible points

DAILY PARTICIPATION                           150 possible points

                                                                                                350 total possible points


Marking Period Grading Scale

307-350    A

253-306    B

206-252    C

158-205  D

   0-157  F 



Commonly Asked Questions…


Here are some of the questions that I hear many times each year as we begin with 6th graders:


1.  Will my student run into conflicts between band and sports?

In the fifth and sixth grades, band is mostly an after-school activity, and conflicts are few.  At the seventh grade level, we do all we can in our scheduling to avoid conflicts.  If conflicts do occur, we try to be accommodating in helping to resolve them.  Many of our best band students are also athletes.


2.  How much will my child have to practice each day?

The consistency and frequency of practice are much more important that the total time spent each day.  At this point our weekly requirement is 100 minutes, or 15-20 minutes a day.  However, it is most important that the student practice every day, even if that only means five or ten minutes on some busy days.  Learning to play an instrument involves training delicate muscles to do new things, and this is best achieved with consistent daily practice.


3.  How will I be informed of my child’s progress?

Your child will receive a grade for band on his/her report card each marking period.  In addition, we send home a separate evaluation for each student that details progress in many different areas of playing and classroom participation.  Each evaluation will also include my recommendation for whether the student should continue with band.  


4.  Are private lessons necessary for my child to participate in band?

Private lessons, in which pay for your child to study privately with an expert teacher on his/her specific instrument, are offered through the Center for Cultural Arts, but are strictly optional.  The individual attention received in one of these lessons can be as valuable as two or three of the students’ group class sessions.  Speak to me if you are interested in this and I will provide you with contact information.


5.  Can my child play an instrument that is not listed here?

The instruments included in the sixth grade band are flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion.  The tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, and French horn are instruments that we use in bands at higher grade levels.  We select students to switch to these special instruments based on performance ability, effort, and responsibility shown during their time as a part of the band.





Although we do not require band students to buy any specific brand or model of instrument, the instruments listed below are those that we feel offer the best value for the money.  In most cases they are not the least expensive instruments available, but offer a better long-term value when repair costs are taken into account.







Gemeinhardt Model 3

Jupiter 507RS




Yamaha YCL 250 (plastic)

Yamaha YCL 450 (wooden)

Vandoren B45 or equivalent

Swab, Cork Grease

Alto Saxophone

Jupiter 667 GN

Yamaha YAS-23


Swab, Cork Grease


King 601

Jupiter 600L

Bach 7C

Valve Oil


King 606

Jupiter 432 L

Bach 12C or equivalent

Slide Oil


Ludwig or
Yamaha Percussion


Vic Firth SD1 Sticks or 2B in another quality brand.




Mr. Tim Harris……………………………………………...….…….Band Director


Mr. Wes Beck…………………………………….…………..Percussion Instructor


Mrs. Katelyn Gable-Deerman..………………….………...……..Dance Instructor






Mr. Harris-



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