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Make the Most of the School Band Experience

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Multi-ethnic students learning to play trumpet with teacher
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One of the great things about middle school is that students can finally participate in activities and sign up for subjects that they've been looking forward to since elementary school. Joining the middle school band can be a milestone, but also a learning experience for tweens. If your child is considering the school band or orchestra, consider the following tips to make the experience the best possible.

The Middle School Band - Tips for Tweens and Parents

  • Give it a Try: Every student should at least look into joining the middle school band or orchestra. Even students who have never played an instrument before, or who can't yet read music, should ask if they can participate. Schools often hold a "band night" for parents and children to meet the instructor and try out the instruments, or you may have the opportunity to learn about the band program at school orientation. It's a good idea to try every instrument, in order to determine which one might be best for your child.
  • Save Money: Joining the band or orchestra can be costly, but it doesn't have to be. If your child decides to give the band a try for a year, consider renting an instrument as opposed to buying one. If your child decides to stick with band, you can look into purchasing a used instrument from a student who has dropped out of band, or shop for used clarinets, flutes, or trumpets at pawn shops, or through local classified advertisements. Many music stores also offer parents the option of paying for an instrument in monthly installments. It's not a bad idea to look into optional insurance coverage, because at some point during the school year there's a good chance your child's instrument will need some professional adjustments.
  • Be Patient: Your musician should know that it takes time to master an instrument, and at first the band may seem like it will never master a song together. Be sure your child knows it takes time for the group to put it all together, and to be patient with the band instructor and with other members of the band. Your child's school will likely have a performance at the end of the year, so that you and your child can enjoy just how much the group has learned together.
  • Practice Your Instrument: If your child wants to join the middle school band, get a commitment at the beginning of the year that he or she will make practicing a priority. Learning a new instrument takes a lot of practice and dedication, and your child just won't be able to master his instrument if only plays and practices at school. The band instructor will probably ask the band members to practice 10 to 15 minutes per day. Help your child develop a routine for practicing, such as practicing right after his homework is completed, or in the mornings after breakfast.
  • Clean Your Instrument: All instruments require some care, and your child should be in charge of maintaining and cleaning his instrument. Ask your local music store about cleaning kits for your child's particular instrument. The band instructor will likely show your tween how to properly clean and store his instrument, but you can also find helpful online tutorials to walk you through the process.
  • Enjoy the Experience: Being a part of the school band is a privilege and if your child goes into it with the right attitude, it will also be a lot of fun. Encourage your tween by listening to him practice and by acknowledging how much progress he is making. Attend any band concerts or parades, and be sure you take plenty of pictures or video, so you can continue to enjoy his experience in the years to come.
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