6th Grade Band
This band is made up of beginners. We start them off and teach them to play the instruments assigned, and then prepare them for concerts and a contest. Instrument choice is determined by the student. However, we can’t have an entire group of one particular instrument. So, in some cases, they will not get their first choice, but will have to move to their second choice.
Example: Most kids want to play in the percussion section (Drums). Well, we can’t have 50 percussionists because that will over-balance the band. We will test each student out and the top numbers will be allowed to choose the drums. Usually we will take between 6-10. Those that tried out on drums as their first choice, but didn’t make it, will have to select another instrument.
Selecting an instrument is a very critical time. Once that student selects what they want to play, then that’s it. It is VERY difficult to switch to another instrument in later years.
The instrument selection happens in the first 6 weeks of the 6th grade year.
HOW STUDENTS ARE PLACED?
The first question that is usually asked is how are students selected to play percussion and the other instruments in 6th grade beginner band. Let’s answer that! First each student will learn about the different types of instruments, what they sound like, look like and what it takes to play them. This begins in Elementary Music with Mrs. Steele who does a great job with explaining everything. When the student gets to 6th grade they will know the basics of music, and they will have an idea of what the different types of music are like.
Then in 6th grade we do a refresher for a week or two and allow each student to write down their three choices of instruments that they would like to play. We do our best to put a student where they want to be, but there are playing tests, physical features (fingers, mouth, teeth…etc) that work for certain instruments. We always place the students on the instrument that they will be most successful at. Years of data, experience and college courses that the directors have or have taken makes us the best experts in this situation.
For percussion the same guidelines are in place, but we also use a separate testing system in addition to the one mentioned above. Each student is first evaluated on their rhythmic ability and the level of coordination. Each student will come into the testing room and there will be a metronome going at 72bpm. They will then be asked to tap their feet, then alternate, pat their lap, clap on certain beats and count out loud at the same time. Next they will go over to the practice pad. Here, Mr. Cartwright will play things for them and without any help they should mimic and play those afterwards. After the first test is complete Mr. Cartwright will write down comments and save those in a file for evaluation.
On the second test the metronome will be going at a little faster tempo and each student is required to play “sixteenth notes” to match the notes that are playing. This is a test done on a beatnik drumpad. This is an electronic drum pad that analyzes playing and gives the student a percentage score. This is very important to the selection of a student becoming a percussionist. Mr. Cartwright then compiles the data and selects those who made at least 80% on the first test and at least 70% on the second test to be in the beginner percussion section. Mr. Cartwright will usually select no more than 10 percussion students each year.
****ALL PERFORMANCES ARE REQUIRED AND A GRADE IS GIVEN! IF YOU KNOW YOU WILL MISS A PERFORMANCE, AN ALTERNATIVE ASSIGNMENT WILL BE ISSUED IF THE STUDENT COMES AND RECEIVES AN ASSIGNMENT SHEET FROM MR. WHATLEY. ****
Grades Will Be Determined By the following for the 6th Grade Band
- Each 6th grader will have a participation grade of 100.
- There will be chair tests given to put students in chair order and to assess student playing and understanding. These chair test grades will begin to show in the grade book only in the spring.
- Students my also have written rhythm tests.
- If a student is disruptive, leaves music or instrument at home, or chooses not to participate during class, their grade will be lowered.
– Semester Exams-
- Semester Exams and final six weeks grades are determined by attendance to the end of the semester concerts. (Christmas and Spring Concerts).
- This grade is an easy score of 100 just by attending and playing at the concert.
- If a student is absent from the concert, they must complete the 10 page research paper as their alternate assignment at 10 points per page.
Instrument Selection Guide
The flute is the smallest of the beginner instruments. It is a very popular selection each year, but only a small portion of those wishing to play flute will be selected.
Physical Characteristics: Flute players should have a slight “frown” to the upper lip with NO teardrop shape in the middle. Flute tones are produced by being able to focus an extremely small airstream to an exact location on the tone hole. The teardrop-shaped lip will make it difficult to direct the air so precisely. Flute players should also have agile fingers for moving this multi-keyed instrument through a fast musical passage. Students with extreme overbites should avoid choosing flute as this makes it difficult to produce quality sounds.
Other Considerations: Student with double-jointed fingers should avoid selecting flute as double-jointedness can cause lack of agility in the fingers.
FLUTE PERSONALITY: Conscientious
The oboe is similar in appearance to a clarinet, but it is played using a “double reed” instead of a single reed and mouthpiece. Selection of oboe players is EXTREMELY limited. VERY few will actually be selected for oboe.
Physical Characteristics: Students with profound overbites or under bites would have EXTREME difficulties producing good sounds on the oboe since the embouchure requires equal pressure on both sides of the reed at the same placement.
Other Considerations: Because the oboe is such a difficult instrument to master, only students with high academic performance records will be considered. Students who choose (and are selected) to play oboe are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to take weekly private lessons. Students are required to maintain a supply of 3-4 high-quality reeds at ALL times. Students with a history of disciplinary trouble will NOT be considered for oboe.
3% of students will be selected for OBOE
OBOE PERSONALITY: Studious
The bassoon is to the oboe what the bass clarinet is to the clarinet. It is the larger, lower sounding version of the double reed instrument. However, bassoon students will not play oboe before switching. Instead, they will begin on the bassoon itself. VERY few students will be selected to play Bassoon.
Physical Characteristics: A slight overbite is okay for students wishing to play bassoon, however a student with an under bite should avoid bassoon. Agile thumbs is a necessity for playing bassoon proficiently as well as a medium or greater hand span.
Other Considerations: Like the oboe, the bassoon is a difficult instrument to master. Only students with high academic performance records will be considered. Students who choose (and are selected) to play bassoon are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to take weekly private lessons. Students are required to maintain a supply of 3-4 high-quality reeds at ALL times. Students with a history of disciplinary trouble will NOT be considered for oboe.
3% of students will be selected for BASSOON
BASSOON PERSONALITY: Serious
The clarinet uses a “single reed” and a mouthpiece to produce the sound. Willingness to purchase or rent a director-recommended clarinet is a MUST! Unfortunately, there are some clarinets on the market whose poor design and craftsmanship make it next to impossible to succeed. We can help you avoid that pitfall.
Physical Characteristics: One necessity of clarinet tone production is the ability to make the chin flat. Orthodontia is okay, but if a student has an extremely rounded bottom row of teeth the mouthpiece will be hard to place in the proper position for tone production.
Other Considerations: Instruction on clarinet can be meticulous. Students who are able to focus and perform a detailed series of instructions could do well on clarinet. Students who have difficulty remembering a series of instructions should avoid playing clarinet. Clarinet players are responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4-6 quality reeds. Clarinet students will have the opportunity after their first year of instruction to audition for Bass Clarinet (based on their own proven musical and behavioral abilities while learning clarinet).
(Click picture for an audio sample)
24% of students will be selected for CLARINET
CLARINET PERSONALITY: Focused
The alto saxophone gives the impression of being both a brass AND woodwind instrument, however it is indeed considered a woodwind instrument. The alto saxophone (which uses a single reed like the clarinet) is a very popular instrument like flute and only a few students will be chosen to play it.
Physical Characteristics: Since the balance of the saxophone is maintained by the use of a neck strap, it is extremely important that students be able to sit up completely straight when asked to.
Other Considerations: Saxophone players are responsible for maintaining a working stock of 4-6 quality reeds. Alto Saxophone students will have the opportunity after their first year of instruction to audition for Tenor Sax or Baritone Sax (based on their own proven musical and behavioral abilities while learning alto saxophone).
10% of students will be selected for SAXOPHONE
SAXOPHONE PERSONALITY: Mellow
The trumpet is the smallest member of the brass family. Buzzing into a small mouthpiece produces the sound on trumpet.
Physical Characteristics: While orthodontia is somewhat troublesome at first to a trumpet player, it is not impossible to make good sounds with braces. A slight overbite is okay, but an under bite can severely hinder progress on trumpet. Trumpet players come in all shapes and sizes.
Other Considerations: Trumpet parts usually have the melody part; therefore students who choose and are selected for trumpet should exhibit a confident demeanor, strong personality, and demonstrate a high level of self-motivation.
13% of students will be selected for TRUMPET
TRUMPET PERSONALITY: Confident
- French Horn
The French Horn is also a member of the brass family. Buzzing into a small mouthpiece similar to a trumpet produces its sound. Only the top scores will be selected to play French Horn. Students with good musical ears (such as Honor Choir students) should consider French Horn.
Physical Characteristics: A slight overbite is okay, but an under bite can severely hinder progress on French Horn. Because the bell of the French Horn rests on the knees of the player while playing, it is imperative that a student’s upper torso be long enough to accommodate the size of the French Horn to make good sounds and that players be able to demonstrate sitting straight up when asked to do so. The French Horn’s keys are manipulated with the LEFT hand.
Other Considerations: Because of the difficult nature of French Horn notes students should exhibit GREAT ability to match sung or played pitches by humming or singing. Perhaps this is a good instrument choice for students who have participated in piano lessons or honor choir groups. Students with a history of academic or behavioral problems will NOT be selected for French Horn.
8% of students will be selected for FRENCH HORN
FRENCH HORN PERSONALITY: Academic
Trombone players should have good “musical ears.” The trombone is played like the other brass instruments (buzzing into a cup-shaped mouthpiece), but uses a slide instead of valves. The slide is not marked or notched and players rely on their memory and hearing to tell if they are in the EXACT proper location. Students with good musical ears (such as Honor Choir students) should consider trombone.
Physical Characteristics: While some might think that trombone players must have long arms, the truth is there are numerous accommodations that make it possible for students of all shapes and sizes to play. A slight overbite is acceptable, while an extreme under bite would hinder success. Trombone players should have slightly fuller lips than average.
Other Considerations: Great trombone playing takes good concentration and study. Many quiet academically minded students have excelled at trombone.
8% of students will be selected for TROMBONE
TROMBONE PERSONALITY: Analytical
The euphonium is a member of the brass family and looks like a small version of a tuba. Its sound is similar to that of a trombone, but it uses valves like a trumpet instead of a slide like trombone.
Physical Characteristics: Euphonium players should have moderately full lips, but not too full. A SLIGHT overbite is okay, but an under bite would hinder a good sound. The euphonium requires a medium-sized hand span to reach the valves and students should have an above average lung capacity.
Other Considerations: Students with an above average amount of orthodontia will find the mouthpiece of the euphonium a bit more comfortable than trumpet or French Horn.
4% of students will be selected for EUPHONIUM
EUPHONIUM PERSONALITY: Artistic
While many believe the tuba is the largest instrument in band and would be hard to physically manage, the tubas we use for beginners are smaller in size and easy to handle.
Physical Characteristics: Tuba players need to have full lips and a large lung capacity. While the size of the student doesn’t matter TOO much, a long torso helps a student reach the mouthpiece of the tuba while resting the bottom of the tuba on the edge of their chair or across their lap.
Other Considerations: The tuba provides the musical foundation for the band and requires players that are self-motivated over-achievers. Students with a history of academic trouble should not consider the tuba as we rely heavily on the ability of the tuba players to be consistently UIL eligible.
5% of students will be selected for TUBA
TUBA PERSONALITY: Unique
Just because you are always tapping on things does not mean that you are a natural percussionist. In fact, the percussion section is the most select, handpicked section in the band. Only students with the highest grades, lowest discipline problems, and extremely high gross and fine motor skills will be considered for percussion.
Physical Characteristics: Students should exhibit a great deal of coordination in gross and fine motor skills.
Other Considerations: The study of percussion includes bells, triangle, tambourine, maracas, claves, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, snare drum and many other instruments.
ONLY 8-10 students will be selected for PERCUSSION
PERCUSSION PERSONALITY: Coordinated