Beginning Band at Swiss Point

SPMS Band calendar 2015-16

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spname25.gifMiddle School Band

Laurie Zentz, Director
Jeremy Price, Director

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement,in the thrill of creative effort.”~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Welcome to Beginning Band at Swiss Point!

Why should my child join the middle school band at Switzerland Point?

There are so many wonderful reasons to join the band in school.  Having the skill to perform on a musical instrument disney1.jpghas been one of the most cherished accomplishments throughout history.  85% of adults who do not know how to play an instrument say they wish they did.  Students who learn to play an instrument can use this skill and knowledge for the rest of their lives.  There is nothing like the joy of performing music with friends.  It happens every day in school groups and continues for adults who still to play in community bands and orchestras or for those who perform professionally.  Even if you don’t go on to perform in your adult years, your musical experience and knowledge causes you to listen to music with deeper understanding and enjoyment.

  • Band is a group effort.  Musicians are required to shift from an “I/Me” reasoning to a “We/Us” concept. This means extending oneself beyond the normal considerations of much of our fast-paced, competitive day-to-day living.  Instead of the logic being, “what’s in it for me?”, it becomes, “what’s in it for us?”  The values of cooperation, communication, concentration, correlation and completion come into play during every rehearsal and performance.  These are great values for a future career!
  • Music is one of the few academic disciplines that requires the student to master skills and apply them immediately in performance.  In other words, application of what is learned happens over and over in band class.
  • Band builds positive self-worth.  Although we share many similarities with our athletic counterparts, everyone in the band plays a starting role.  Rarely is a person serving as an alternate or substitute.  There is no “bench” in the band.
Aside from the obvious benefits of playing a musical instrument, there are a number of surprising academic benefits to students who study music. Students who learn an instrument at a young age stimulate the brain in a valuable way. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument enhances a student’s academic performance in math, language arts, foreign language and other academic areas.  Even standardized test scores such as the SAT are higher among musicians.  In band class students use their brain power in a totally different, holistic way.


girls1.jpgWhatever the reason, playing an instrument can bring joy and fulfillment like no other activity.  The most common remark from parents following a wonderful school concert is, “I wish my parents would have encouraged me to play an instrument and stick with it.”


Because of the nature of band class, students often bond with the other band members and they become a close knit “family”.   Band is a place where every individual is a valued member of the “team”.  Differences are celebrated!  Imagine going to a new school and not knowing anything about where to go, or who to talk to.  The transition from school to school is easier for band students because they have many friends to help them through this process.  Once they get to high school, incoming band freshmen have immediate contact with upperclassmen, in a big brother/big sister kind of way.  

How often will my child have band class?

At SPMS we are on a “block schedule” which means that the students have 3 classes per day which last approximately 90 minutes each, and one short class that lasts 40 minutes.  There are two days in a “cycle”, so on the second day the students go to their other 3 classes, and the cycle repeats.  We call the days “Silver Day” and “Black Day”.  So, your child will have a 90 minute band class every other day.  Some will have band for skinny period, which means they will have band every day for 40 minutes.  The students keep up with it better than the parents do!

What instruments can my child choose from in band class?

First of all, you do NOT need to get an instrument before school starts.  We will help your child through the process of selecting which instrument is best suited for him/her.  We include all the traditional concert band instruments:  flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, beginner3.jpgoboe, saxophone, french horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion.  The selection process takes about 2 weeks.  The students will try each band instrument and select a first and second choice.  Together the entire band determines the balanced instrumentation.   Parents are notified of the student’s choice and invited to “instrument rental night” with Rhapsody Music.  There are other options for obtaining an instrument as well.  Please be careful in buying a used instrument or a new instrument online.  If the deal seems too good to be true, it is!  I do NOT advise purchasing an instrument from Amazon.  Most of those “band director approved” no name instruments are of poor quality and can’t be repaired.

Will my child be graded in band class?

Yes!  Band is an academic subject and is graded accordingly.  You will receive a course syllabus at the beginning of the year.  Students are graded on playing tests and other assessments.  Performances count as Summative Assessments and the dates are announced well in advance.

Where will my child keep their instrument?

Band lockers are provided in the band room, and the instrument should go home at least twice a week for practice.  Locks are optional and will be provided upon request.

beginner5.pngWhat supplies are needed for band class?

The band supply list includes one pack of pencils and one ream of copy/printer paper.  These are donated to the band and are used throughout the school year.  The band method books, sheet music, and music folder will be provided, along with most of the accessories that are needed for each instrument (reeds) and all band music.  Students need their band instrument for every class period.  Their responsibility grade will be lowered if they forget their instrument.  When instruments go into the repair shop, we provide a loaner instrument so no instructional time is lost.

Will there be after school practice?

After school practices will be very rare given that we get so much accomplished during each band class.  Having to stay after school for band is almost non-existent at SPMS.

Are there out of town trips?

Our Beginning Band usually takes a day trip with our Wind Symphony, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Bands to Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia.

Are there competitions?

Our bands participate in the Florida Bandmasters Association MPA (Music Performance Assessment) which is not a competition.  It is an assessment opportunity where we are judged against a standard of excellence and given a rating.  The Beginning Band usually does not participate in this event.  Occasionally we may compete in a festival at a major theme park. The students will have the opportunity to go to competitions in high school band.

How much will band cost?
Although we would prefer for it to be free, there is a fee to participate in band.  “Pay to Play” is here to stay in sports andCCE1.jpg the arts in most school districts.  However, the cost of band is much less than the other typical activities that today’s youngsters are involved in.  It’s much less than travel sports or even dance lessons.  The band fee of $145 per year covers everything except the instrument (you will either provide your own, rent or buy from a music dealer, or rent from the school) and the end of the year reward field trip.  Uniform shirts/dresses, T- shirts, method books, reeds, oils, sheet music, entry fees, clinicians, rewards, celebrations, and most transportation along with lots of other necessities are covered in the band fee.  Because of the Band Fee, we will not be constantly asking you for money.  It’s all included!  There will be very minimal fun fundraisers to benefit the entire program.

Instrument costs will vary, but can be rented from a music dealer for $25-$40 a month on a “rent to own” program.  Typically your instrument is paid for in 2-3 years.  Some of the larger, more expensive instruments may be rented from the band.  These are tuba, baritone, french horn, bassoon, oboe, bass clarinet, and tenor/bari saxophone.  Your instrument is an investment which will hold value for years to come.  Be sure to rent/buy a name brand instrument!

Will Band fit in an aggressive academic schedule?

Students and parents often assume that the only way to get good at music is to do nothing else. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, one of the facets of the band that we are most proud of is that we accomplish very high musical goals while maintaining a balance with the total school experience.  In our band program we have MANY students who excel in advanced courses, MANY are on sports teams, MANY are participating in clubs like “Dreams Come True” and “Fellowship of Christian Athletes”, and academic events like “Math Counts” and “Battle of the Books”.  Many are involved in church activities, and MANY have been involved in our school drama productions.  It is very true that band kids are some of the most well-rounded kids around!

How good does my child have to be to get started?

To begin in band all you need is a great attitude and desire to learn!  You will soon be able to do things you never thought you could!  Our students come from excellent elementary music programs which have prepared them well to succeed in band!

Will band and time commitment adversely affect my child’s grades?
Whether you are in band or not, good grades are dependent upon being an organized, good worker.  If you are conscientious and organized, band (or any other activity) will not adversely affect your grades.  The band schedules have been carefully developed to work with the school’s academic demands.  Most of our work is done in class.  Of course, some practice at home is required in order to make progress.

“Band teaches me a lot about life: the discipline, dedication, how hard work pays off, how to respect, and how to enjoy.”

~ Band Student

What the parents are saying:

“Our band was amazing last night!  I have to say that I was especially impressed with how much improvement our bands have made this year.  I was blown away by the 6th graders!  When my daughter started 6th grade band (she’s now in 8th) they sounded nothing like they did last night.  You passion and dedication shines through!  Beautiful performance by all and I applaud you!”

~ 8th grade parent


“The spring concert was just amazing!!  Thank you for all your hard work with our children!  It has been so enjoyable watching the growth in their music all year long.  I cannot wait till there are more concerts.”  ~ 6th grade parent


“I’m very glad my daughter is in the band.  She really likes it this year and is enjoying you as a teacher and playing clarinet.  I played tenor sax back in the day and had such good band experiences so am excited she will have those great memories, too.”  ~ 7th grade parent 

Congratulations on making the decision to involve your child in band at SPMS!  

Instrument selections are done with the band director’s assistance during the first 2 weeks of school.  You do not need to make a rental or purchase before school starts!


Warning:  All instrument brands are not of the same quality. Shop wisely at a reputable MUSIC STORE, not a big box discount store, Craig’s List or eBay.  I warn you against buying an instrument from, because they are not an instrument company and cannot service what they sell. 
A quick search on eBay will show multiple instruments without a ‘brand name’ for less than $200 NEW.  Don’t be fooled.  These are cheaply made instruments that will begin to fall apart the first few months of use.  The local instrument repair shops will not have replacement parts for off-brand instruments.  It’s better to rent or buy a quality instrument from the start.  You might be able to find a NAME BRAND used instrument in a pawn shop, eBay, Craig’s list, but it’s difficult to shop for a used instrument without any instrument experience and knowledge.  If you have any questions, please let me know.
FLUTE – Yamaha 221, Buffet, Pearl 500 series, Jupiter, Gemeinhardt
CLARINET – Yamaha, Jupiter, Buffet, Yamaha 450 (wooden clarinet – superb value),
Used wooden clarinets (Normandy 4, Noblet, Buffet E11)
ALTO/TENOR SAXOPHONE – Jupiter, Yamaha 23, Vito (Japan)
TRUMPET – Yamaha 2335 or higher, Bach, Jupiter, King, Holton
TROMBONE – Yamaha 354, Jupiter, King, Holton
PERCUSSION – Bell Kit and Practice Pad w/ stand in back pack style case w/ wheels (Ludwig, Pearl, Yamaha, etc.)
The larger, more expensive instruments can be rented from the band-owned inventory.
Rented from school:  Tubas, Baritones (Euphoniums), French Horns, Tenor Saxophones, Bassoons, Bass Clarinets, Oboes
**The fee to rent a school-owned instrument is $100/year.  
This covers all repairs throughout the year, ultrasonic cleaning, mouthpieces, and accessories.  

This is NOT a rent to own deal.

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