very glad you're considering being in the band program here at Holly
Shelter Middle School! If you've had another child in band, then
you already know what to expect. If not, I know this can be a very
confusing time for you and your child. Below are some frequently
asked questions -- I hope they will help you gain an understanding
of the band program here. If you have any questions, feel free to
You may also download an informational brochure!
if my child doesn't know how to play an instrument or read music?
- That's okay!
We start from the very beginning, assuming that none of the students
can read music or play an instrument.
and when do we get an instrument?
- Once we've
decided what instrument your child will play, I will send home
detailed information on the different ways to obtain an instrument.
In short, you can purchase an instrument, participate in "rent-to-own"
programs offered by local music stores, or get one from a neighbor
or an older sibling. The school also has a limited number of instruments
available to borrow for students with financial need. I have never
had a student who had to quit band because they didn't have an
- If you are
thinking of purchasing an instrument, see below for recommended
brands for different instruments. You can find instruments for
low prices at local department stores and online, but remember
-- you get what you pay for. An instrument with
a low sticker price may have a low sticker price because of poor
workmanship and subpar materials. The materials these instruments
are made of are often so inferior that repair technicians won't
or can't work on them. You also want to get an instrument for
which repair or replacement parts are easily available. There
are several brands which are high quality brands, but the parts
can only be obtained from overseas, resulting in higher repair
costs and longer time without an instrument. Also, unfortunately
many companies are making instruments in "new and exciting
colors" in the hopes that the customer will buy it because
it's "flashy" and not because it's a quality instrument.
The coloring is simply a plating which can (and usually does)
chip off. These chips can become stuck in the instrument, and
can also be inhaled by the student. When you buy a car or major
appliance, you want a quality item that will last years. A quality
instrument will last for many years and will have greater resale
- If you are
looking at an instrument online or in a local shop (like a pawn
shop), feel free to contact
me and I will give you any information I can to help you know
if it's a quality instrument for a reasonable price.
These are not the only reputable brands, but have been found
over the years to be durable, easy to repair, and of sound
band a year-long class?
- Yes. Learning
to play an instrument is a process that works best when it happens
on a continual basis. There are cognitive and physical aspects
of being a musician that must be practiced all year!
if my child didn't sign up for band, but now he/she wants to?
- You can have
your child's schedule changed. You can contact Dr. Pinto or ask
about it at the Open House (check www.nhcs.net/hollyshelter
for open house schedules). Also, if your child signed up for band
but it is not on his/her schedule in the fall, let me know as
soon as possible and I will make sure the student's schedule is
corrected so that they DO have band! Sometimes, when a student
has signed up for band, there is a mistake and it is not on their
schedule. The students later tell me they just assumed the class
was "full" and they didn't get in. Band is never "full".
If your child signs up for band, they SHOULD get in. If it's not
on their schedule, have them come to me and I will have their
activities will my child be required to attend outside of school?
- In sixth
grade, there are only two concerts outside the school day -- one
in December and one in May. These concerts take place at Holly
Shelter Middle School and usually last no longer than an hour.
The concert counts as 25% of your
child's grade for that nine weeks, so it is very important (and
required) that your child attend.
We rely on every member of the band. In the past, I have
had situations where parents punished their children for not cleaning
their rooms or not getting good grades by not letting them attend
the concert. While the concerts can and should be very rewarding
for the students, they should not be treated as rewards. To not
let a student attend a band concert as a punishment would be like
not letting them turn in their science project or take their end
of grade test. It will affect their grade negatively - an unexcused
absence means that the highest grade your child will receive that
nine weeks is a 75 (D).
being in band cost anything?
- There are
certain costs associated with being in band. Just as you would
have to buy certain supplies for your child to play a sport (cleats,
glove, shin guards, etc), there are supplies needed for each instrument.
For most of these, you'll buy it once and it will last all year.
The only things your student may have to buy year round are reeds,
and these range from $1.50-$3.00 each. How long the reed lasts
depends on how well your child takes care of the instrument. Students
must also buy a method book (it costs around $9.00 and they'll
use it all year) and a band shirt (usually around $15.00, but
they will wear it the entire time they're in middle school band).
We do an annual fundraiser, and students may use any money
they raise to pay for any costs! I've had several students
each year who didn't have to pay for a single thing out of pocket!
anyone be in band?
- Yes! While
being able to play an instrument is fun, learing to play the instrument
takes committment on the part of the student and the parents.
A large majority of the student's grade is based on class participation
and home practice. Students are required to practice an average
of 30 minutes a night, five times a week. So, if you're highly
motivated, this is the class for you! Parents, it is very important
that you support your child and allow them to practice their instrument
at home. As with any specialized skill, the students will not
improve without practice outside of class.
instruments can my child start on?
- Flute, Clarinet,
Trumpet, and Trombone. Per New Hanover County Schools Policy,
no sixth graders are allowed to start on percussion (drums), even
if they have drums at home or have played them at Church or the
Boys Club. Students must start on one of the instruments listed,
and then we'll have percussion auditions later in the school year.
They can also switch to other instruments such as saxophone, oboe,
bassoon, baritone, tuba, and french horn.
my child guaranteed to play the instrument of his/her choice?
- A band must
have balanced instrumentation to be successful. I will ask each
student to tell me their first choice of instrument, and if the
instrumentation is balanced, then everyone gets their first choice.
Most years, though, I have a large number of students who want
to play a particular instrument.
If we have
too many people who want to play the same instrument, I may ask
those students to volunteer to start on a different instrument.
Band is the same as most sports - a band that has 30 trumpets
and only 5 clarinets will be about as successful as a baseball
team with 2 pitchers and no catcher. If you already have an instrument
(from an older sibling, band camp, etc), then your child will
be guaranteed to play that instrument.
How will band benefit my child?
- I'm glad
you asked! Below are several facts that have come from research
on music and the human brain. It is well known that being in a
band class helps to raise test scores, but this is just one of
the many benefits to being a musician!
subjects offered in middle school only develop the cognitive
part of the brain. Music and the arts are the ONLY subjects
available to middle school students that ALSO develop the
part of the brain that governs emotions and emotional response.
can earn county, district, and state honors. Band classes
help to raise students' self-esteem.Band classes promote teamwork.
Band classes promote problem-solving and higher-order thinking
skills.Students who continue band through high school can
be offered music scholarships to college, even if they aren't
majoring in music!At the New Hanover County All-County Concert
of 2007, a professor from Duke University said that the FIRST
thing their admissions department looks for on college applications
is whether or not the student was in band.
your child stays in band through high school and becomes an
advanced player, he/she can make money playing their instrument!
else should I know?
understand - band is a class that counts in the student's GPA.
In the past I have had parents use band as a punishement for grades
or behavior, not letting students practice or attend concerts.
This severely impacts the student's grade. Not letting them practice
would be like not letting them do their math or science homework.
Not letting them attend a concert would be like not letting them
take their math or reading EOG.
What's this Brain Research you spoke of?
part of the brain responsible for planning, foresight, and coordination
is substantially larger for instrumental musicians than for the
general public. (from "Music on the Mind", Newsweek
a music elective course is a better indicator that a student will
stay in college than high SAT scores or a high GPA. (Dr. Denise
Gardner, Georgia Tech).
at the University of California and the Niigata Brain Research
Institute in Japan ahve found an area of the brain that is activated
only when reading music. (from NeuroReport, 1998)
musicians demonstrate 25% more brain activity than non-musicians
when listening to music. (from "Exposure to Music is Instrumental
to the Brain", University of Muenster)
ten year study indicates that students who study music achieve
higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background. (Dr.
James Catterall, UCLA)
with good rhythmic performance ability can more easily differentiate
between patterns in math, music, science, and visual arts. (TCAMS
Professional Resource Center)
children participating in an arts program that includes music
show significant increases in self-concept. (Auburn University).