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in the Folly Quarter Band Program

Beginning a student's band experience in Middle School

In the Howard County Public School System, students are first offered the opportunity to participate in instrumental music in the third grade. Instruction on band instruments begins in the fourth grade. The focus of instrumental instruction in the elementary school is on the individual developing basic techniques to perform at a rudimentary level.

In middle school, this focus begins to be focused on the students performing together in an ensemble. The majority of instructional time (about 83%) is spent working with the students in a large ensemble of 50 or more. Many programs do not start beginners after the fifth grade. At Folly Quarter, Mr. Spang works with students who are just beginning their band experience with a special beginner sectional created in place of a traditional sectional. These students are affectionately known as newbies. Because of current instrumentation, the director has the prerogative not to start all instruments (in other words, beginning drummers will not be allowed to begin if there are already too many in the FQMS program).

Because these students only meet with the Band Director once a week (and during that time he is running from newbie student to newbie student), private lessons with a private teacher outside of school are highly recommended to reinforce the instruction. Mr. Spang has a list of highly qualified instructors, if you are interested. Click on the Resources Tab to find the list of Private Instructors online.

Once a student performs anywhere near grade level, they are "graduated" into the normal Band Class. Because they are beginning at least one or more years behind their peers, this requires a great deal of hard work and diligent practice on their part. While not every student succeeds, the majority go on to high school music programs and have a great experience in Band for the rest of their lives.

You should rent (or purchase) an appropriate instrument from a music store and pick up the beginning band text Accent on Achievement, Book 1. Some students who are beginning large instruments (such as euphonium, tuba, bass clarinet, or bari sax) may have the instrument supplied by the Director. Newbies will be graded on a modified list of expectations, or Ladders to Success, from other band students.

This program is for the highly motivated student who has a burning desire to learn a musical instrument and help the FQMS Band Program. It is a serious undertaking, requiring an investment of time, effort and money that should not be entered into lightly.

If you have any questions regarding this program, or what instruments are most needed in the band, please do not hesitate to contact the director.