6th Grade Beginning Band

Goals for 6th Grade Band:

  • Music Literacy (note names, rhythm reading techniques, recognizing expressive markings like dynamics, articulations, tempos)
  • Ensemble playing (blend, balance)
  • Characteristic tone on each instrument
  • FUN!  Games like the Count/Clap Challenge, Guess Who, Pass the Baton, Repeater, Scale Patterns 1,2, and 3, Around the Room, Longest Note and Band Olympics!

Frequently Asked Questions about 6th grade band:

How does the sixth grade schedule work if I sign up for band?

If students sign up for band, they will be placed in either a beginning woodwind class or beginning brass/percussion class. Each of these classes meet during the school day. Students will have six classes throughout the day: Four core classes (language arts, math, social studies and science) and two Related Arts classes (Spanish/Wellness and another arts elective – band!).

Do I need to know how to play an instrument before I join band?

Nope! Ms. Arthur will teach you everything you need to know, from how to put together and clean your instrument, to holding it, to creating the perfect embouchure (mouth position) for making a beautiful sound!

Do I need to know how to read music before band starts?

Nope! We spend the first part of the year learning how to read rhythms and note names together as a class. We get into some scales and music theory by the end of the year, even composing songs!

Is there guitar or drums in band?

Unfortunately, no. The instruments to play in band are: flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone*, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion*. They only place for playing “drums” (drum set) is in the jazz band, which is an early bird class that has auditions at the beginning of the year. Students need at least one semester of band experience before they are eligible to audition for jazz band. HOWEVER… percussion as an instrument choice offers snare drum, bass drum, auxiliary percussion (triangle, tambourine, cymbals, etc) and mallets (xylophone). * Students wishing to play saxophone or percussion will need to have to make an appointment to speak with Ms. Arthur before the school year starts.

How do I get an instrument?

Athey Creek has a very limited number of instruments for students to use. It is highly recommended that students rent an instrument from a local music shop. Wally’s Music in Oregon City will hold an instrument rental night here at Athey during the second week of school. During their visit, you can rent an instrument directly from them. Monthly rental rates vary between instruments. Wally’s has a rent-to-own program for many of their instruments as well. Other local stores that rent instruments include Beacock Music, Manselles, Tigard Music and Portland Music Company.

What are the practice expectations?

Generally, the more a student practices, the better they will sound on their instrument. Students will improve much more if they practice for shorter time periods more often, rather than one long marathon practice session. In the Athey Band program, we have twice-monthly practice journals, where students set goals and record what they worked on during their practice sessions. It is still possible to get a good grade in band without 100% on practice journals. I know students are very busy these days with sports, Scouts, volunteering, drama and other musical adventures, so the last thing I want is for students to get overwhelmed with practice expectations.

Should I buy an instrument before coming to band?

Band instruments are truly an investment. I generally do not recommend purchasing instruments until at least the second year of playing, as students may want to switch instruments or may simply decide that band is not for them. Beginners are also generally pretty rough on instruments, so putting a brand new shiny trumpet that will only stay shiny and dent-free for a few weeks seems like a waste. I DO NOT recommend purchasing instruments from non-music retailers (think big box stores, bulk stores, and the two-day shipping people). The frustration with shoddy craftsmanship quickly outstrips any savings at an initial purchase. If you find an instrument on Craigslist, feel free to send me the link to check it out BEFORE purchasing.

What instrument should I play?

This is perhaps the biggest question of all. There are three things to think about when choosing an instrument:

  1. Physical characteristics – lip shape, mouth/teeth shape, hand size, overall physique
  2. Balanced band – we need lots of different instruments to get the best possible sound
  3. Sound preference – which instrument has a sound that appeals to you? Some desire the low sounds of a trombone or a tuba, while others will naturally lean towards the higher pitches of a flute, or may appreciate the beauty of the French Horn. Each student is different.

The best way to decide is to hear the instruments live and then try each one. Students will have several chances to try each instrument before band starts, either at our Instrument Preview Night or at an individual appointment with Ms. Arthur in August.

What about orchestra?

As a beginner, you will need to choose between band or beginning orchestra, as they are offered at the same time.  Advanced orchestra students can sign up for the Advanced Orchestra academy class and another Related Arts class (band, choir, art).