4th Grade Band
Tagged: Beginning Band
April 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm #36082
I am curious about the benefits of fourth grade band. My district is considering beginning band instruments in fourth grade and I am of the philosophy that fifth grade is more age appropriate. Does anyone have experience with going from fifth to fourth grade band or strong opinions either way? Thank you for your help.April 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm #36159
We are going to make this same move next year, beginning our instrumental program in 4th instead of 5th, so I’m interested to hear experiences from others! I’m expecting that interest and excitement will be high, but that we will probably get through only about half of the material, moving through things much more slowly with more repetition, more warm-up, games, clapping and singing of songs, note reading exercises, etc. My hope is that we will have a stronger foundation by the time the students get to middle school, and that our fifth graders will be able to get into more interesting music by the end of the year.April 7, 2014 at 7:15 am #36163
We actually went in the opposite direction and now start band in 6th Grade instead of 5th. The reason behind this was that we saw 5th graders twice a week…..we see 6th grade every day. They are caught up by mid 7th grade, and we are finding that the fundamentals are MUCH more solid. Retention from 6th to 7th is also much more solid than 5th to 6th this way (again…I think it was 2 days per week vs 5 days that made the difference). We keep about 87 percent from 6 to 7.
What is the reasoning behind a 4th grade start? Will you see them every day?April 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm #36167
There are a couple of reasons for us to try 4th – one is that there is a lot of community and parent interest in starting earlier. The second reason is that I teach at a small K-8 school with an inflexible schedule and I don’t get to see ANY of my bands every day, not even my advanced middle school group, so I feel like maybe starting early and getting a stronger foundation will eventually start to have a positive impact on my older bands.April 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm #36168
How many days per week do you see your current groups?
If rehearsal time is an issue, a 4th grade start might be the best option. I know of no schools in Ohio that do it (where I am…though I’m sure there are a few), but I’ve heard of several in Illinois that do a 4th grade start. I would definitely consider limiting which instruments you start: Flute, Clarinet, Alto, Trumpet, Trombone, and Percussion.April 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm #36171
My wife taught in a private school that started in 4th grade and you are correct you will cover only about half of what you will in a 5th grade year. The nice thing about it can be that you have them for a longer time before the normal Middle School transition which even in 1 building districts seems to be a quitting point. If I remember correctly she saw them twice a week for 20 minutes in like instrument lessons and than started Group Band rehearsals after Christmas.
I would suggest that you get some curved headjoints for the flutes to make the stretch easier, although not totally necessary. She started Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Trumpet, Trombone/Baritone and Percussion (Bells).
I can talk to her about it to get you more specific information if you would like. Just let me know.April 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm #36178
When I began my position we started students in the fourth grade, but over time I realized that many fourth graders do not possess the attention span needed to properly learn and instrument and also, that many students are not physically ready to start some of the instruments. We were experiencing a 15 – 20% attrition rate due to these factors. We made the move to just starting fifth graders six years ago and now we have 1% attrition rate. I also find that middle school students who start in seventh and eighth grades learn at a much faster rate than elementary band students, catching up to incoming seventh graders in just 10 weeks of steady practice. Maturity and self-direction have a lot to do with how well a student can learn an instrument.
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