Beginner Band (6th grade) Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are all students beginners in 6th grade?

Usually. Some kids who transfer in or who have had private lessons may not be beginners, but at New Albany Middle School, all sixth grade students who choose band have always been taught in “beginner” classes. If you are not a beginner, please be sure to let us know.

2. Do students need to choose and buy/rent/borrow and instrument BEFORE
school starts in August?

Yes. We intend to begin with instruments in the first week. Choices and supplies will be
discussed later in this document and on the band portal.

3. How do we choose an instrument? 

Go to a fitting!!! Fittings are offered on March 13 & 14 in the Intermediate "S" Wing.
At a “fitting,” students will be able to try several instruments. Students will handle instruments and try to make a sound with the help of a music teacher. We have found that not everyone’s first choice is a comfortable fit (for either handling or sound making), and that students who choose a “best fit” are often happier and more successful. A director will NOT choose any instrument for any student, but we will offer guidance in selecting an instrument that should match students physically and otherwise. The middle school band portal provides many details about instruments and making smart choices.

4. Is it true that some students really do not “fit” certain instruments?

Yes. For example, a very small young person with extra skinny fingerprints may not be able to cover clarinet holes. Other examples are listed on instrument pages of the portal.

5. What about buying / renting / borrowing (and possibly repairing) an instrument?

We let the stores represent their own products and pricing, but Rettig Music and Music and Arts stores have a long history in the business and work closely with us to make sure that they service our band families appropriately. You can buy or rent at the time of your fitting OR shop around. There are other store options, and we recommend that you take the band instrument accessory list with you when you shop.  

It is our experience that instruments available at discount warehouses that also sell food, clothing, tires, and electronics are NOT of the same quality that you will find at a music store. There is a definite reason that band instrument prices are lower at the discount warehouses. Likewise, there are beautiful, inexpensive, new instruments for sale on Ebay of poor quality. Buyer beware.

6. What about students that have their heart set on one instrument, but it isn’t a good “fit”? Can they still choose it?

Yes. The music teachers will not choose instruments for students. We will give honest opinions based on observations and experience, but it is the student who will ultimately be doing the practicing, so the student must be comfortable in the choice that they make. Sometimes a student with their heart set on doing something AND a strong work ethic can overcome mismatch issues.

7. OK, we’ve had our fitting, chosen and instrument, and bought it. Now what?

Store it and don’t play it unless you’re planning to deal with private lessons. A lot of kids mess around with an expensive new instrument and accidentally cause damage. Others think that because they are not able to figure out how to play it right away, their choice was a bad choice. PLEASE be patient until
August, when we can help to teach proper handling and playing…step by step.

8. PERCUSSION

A limited number of percussion spots will be available next year. Students interested in percussion may complete a separate percussion fitting with Mr. Coon or Mr. Falk after their woodwind or brass fitting. We strongly believe that due to the demands of the percussion family, the best candidates need to have outstanding rhythmic skills and coordination, a strong work ethic, be dependable and responsible.  We are uncertain what the staffing and schedule will be next year, and these students may be challenged with having and extra amount of learning without an extra amount of support. Some students may be invited to switch from a wind instrument to percussion in the fall.


9. SPORTS?

We have LOTS of band kids in sports and many, many other activities. In fact, the music teachers work closely with the athletic directors to prevent conflicts. The practice requirements for band are not too demanding to be able to balance music and sports. 

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