New to Band?

Hello, Rising 5th Grade Parent!

Our names are Steve Heldt and Kyle Jones, the Instrumental Music Directors for Aspen School District.   As you probably already know, your child is about to embark on the musical experience known as “Band!”  You probably have a lot of questions, and we are happy to answer all of them.

First of all, what is Band?

  • Bands have been in schools since the turn of the 20th century.
    • Although different than typical “core” classes, Band is rigorous, engaging, inherently differentiated, and for everyone
  • Band classes are popular around the globe because of their ability to synthesize all other areas of study in a school into a single activity.
    • Countless studies have proven time and time again that band students are higher-achieving than their non-musician colleagues.
  • Band also stresses group progress and achievement as much as individual achievement.
    • Come the first concert, your child will definitely know what it feels like to be a part of something bigger than oneself!
  • Band is community-oriented.
    • The Band serves the school and the community, acting as a public outlet for student achievement.
  • Band opens doors.
    • From travel, to competition, to scholarships, to the simple joy of making music, your student will enjoy many opportunities only available to musicians.
  • Band is fun!
    • There is no feeling quite like the thrill of coming together with friends and making music!
  • Band is a family.
    • Students and families in the band support each other inside and outside of the rehearsal room.  Think of it this way:  Your student’s first day of high school, he or she will already have a built-in group of dozens of friends from freshmen to seniors ready to support their needs.

We could go on, but those are some of the big ones!

Why should my student do band?

We’ve been working on the answer to this question for a while now.  From our experience, the reason is different for everyone.  But, the best place to start is here:  http://aspenbands.org/advocacy/

How do I sign up/rent an instrument?

If you are able to make it to sign-up night – great!  You’re all set up and good to go!

If not, it’s still really easy to sign up!  All you need to do is go to the Required Materials page of our website:  Instrument Rentals and follow the these steps:

  • Select our school
    • From the first drop-down menu, select “Aspen, CO”
    • From the second drop-down menu, select “Aspen MS – 5th grade”
  • On the next page, select the instrument your child has been fitted to (Every student was fitted for an instrument last week.  If your student has NOT been fitted, contact us personally and we can set up a fitting time.)
  • PM Music automatically includes required materials such as a music stand, our method books, and things like reeds for clarinets.
  • When you check out, PM will take the deposit for your instrument, ensuring that it will be ready and waiting for you on your scheduled delivery date (either June or August).  That deposit also covers the first three months’ rent.

Wait, we have to rent an instrument?  We can’t afford this right now.

That is fine, we have scholarships available.  Please contact Craig Rogers at Aspen Middle School to set this plan up.  Financial difficulty is never a reason not to do Band – We’ll make it work!

What if I just want to go buy an instrument instead of losing money renting?

Well, renting works great because you get a quality instrument ($800-$1,200) for a very low monthly rental rate.  On top of that, your first 9 months of rental money is able to be applied to the price of purchasing an instrument if you choose to later on.  Also, PM Music covers lost and stolen instruments, as well as any repairs that need to be made.  If you insist on buying , please consult us (Steve Heldt or Kyle Jones) before purchasing!  It is very easy to be fooled into buying a terrible instrument for your child – let us help!

My son or daughter already plays piano, violin, guitar, recorder, didgeridoo… why can’t they play that in band?

The short answer is that those instruments are not part of our ensemble.  Just as you wouldn’t put a saxophone in a string quartet, we do not include several instruments in our traditional wind band setting.  That said, we do include piano guitar, and bass in our Jazz Band.  Learning multiple instruments is fantastic for the young mind.  Many of our brightest musicians play multiple instruments.  It will only aid them further in their musical journey.  In fact, the directors play over thirty different instruments!

Why are some band instruments like the saxophone or the drums not an option?  My student wants to be a “drummer!”

There are several reasons we limit the initial instrument offerings.  For example, some instruments (like the saxophone or tuba) are too large for 5th graders to play at first.  Second, we need to keep a balanced instrumentation.  If everyone took up the saxophone, we would not be able to achieve the goals of the group. (Just like a sports team – an entire team of goalies is not going to be very effective.)  Finally, we want to put students on instruments that transfer easily to those other instruments later on.  What we can guarantee is that any will be fun and rewarding to the student who works hard to master it!

For student that want to learn to play the drums set, we encourage them to become a percussionist.  Please note being a percussionist and being a drummer are two different things.  All percussionists are drummers, but not all drummers are percussionists.  We teach a well-rounded approach to the percussive arts.  If your student chooses percussion, they will learn both battery and mallet (pitched) percussion.

I still have a few questions.  Can we talk about this some more?

Of course!!  Feel free to contact us via phone or email any time.  All of our contact info is available at : http://aspenbands.org/contact/